The family of former Castleford player Tony Dean has paid tribute to the “best dad in the world” after he lost his long battle with cancer.
Mr Dean, who played for Castleford between 1969 and 1973, before going on to coach Wakefield for two years in the 1980s, died on Friday, at the age of 65.
His son Lee, 27, said: “He was not just a brilliant rugby league player but he was a top dad as well.
“He’d do anything for anybody and he would drop everything to help people out.
“I know it’s a cliché but he really was the best dad in the world.”
Mr Dean didn’t start playing rugby until he was 19.
He was originally a cross country runner before joining Castleford Rugby Union in 1968.
Lee added: “When he first started playing rugby he was still working as a plumber.
“He would go to work all day and then train the kids at Ackworth rugby club two nights a week.
“The nights he wasn’t running sessions he would go and turn the floodlights on and play football and rugby with all the local kids.”
Mr Dean, of Watering Troughs, Ackworth, made 30 appearances for Castleford before going on to play for Hunslet and Hull.
He was part of Hull’s 1982 Challenge Cup winning team, who famously defeated Widnes after a replay.
Mr Dean then coached at Wakefield Trinity between 1986 and 1988.
Lee said: “Everyone knew him in Ackworth. He was always busy doing something.
“He was very sporty and didn’t believe in kids wandering the streets. He would get everyone together from the village.”
Lee Robinson, club historian at Wakefield Wildcats, was also on the coaching staff at the same time as Mr Dean.
He said: “Tony had a great personality as a coach, generally full of humour as well as encouragement for the youngsters at the club and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
“Everyone at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats sends their condolences to Tony’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Mr Dean leaves behind wife Susan, three sons - Lee Paul and Phil and three grandsons Sam, Ben and Jack.
His funeral will take place at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Ackworth on Friday, August 1 from 1pm. The public are welcome to attend.