It was no great surprise that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson should be one of the first people to pay tribute to former Daily Star chief sports photographer John Dawes.
Sir Alex more than most recognises a real professional – he also knows a character. And Dawesy, as he was universally known, fitted the bill on both counts.
So no doubt Ferguson spoke for many of the countless football managers and players who knew Dawesy – particularly in the North West where he was based – when he spoke movingly after the Star man died suddenly at home, aged 65.
Ferguson said: ‘John was one of the great personalities of the football world. He was always the centre of attraction at press conferences and photoshoots, purely due to his presence and personality.
‘He was a terrific man and he will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.”
Liverpool spokesman Ian Cotton added: ‘John was a larger-than-life character, always great company and was well-known throughout the game. We are sorry to hear this very sad news and our thoughts are with John’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
Dawesy was old school in the sense that he built up relationships with scores of people over a long period of time, and there was mutual respect on both sides.
It enabled him to enliven many a dull picture opportunity with a car boot full of props that always seemed to be on hand.
And it also meant he was able to persuade a succession of England players and managers to be snapped in the sort of unflattering positions they wouldn’t contemplate now.
On one memorable occasion, Bobby Robson was persuaded to pose on top of a camel in the desert, only for Dawesy to discover that, when it came to getting the picture back to the office, nothing was being wired because of some international incident or another.
That wasn’t going to stop the consummate professional. Needless to say, only one other picture got through that day. Bobby Robson on a camel.
Dawesy was born in Warrington, Cheshire, and joined the town’s John Mountfield Picture Agency from school, aged just 15.
He went on to work for the Widnes Weekly News and Mercury Press in Liverpool before joining the Daily Express in 1970 as a news photographer.
In 1978, he joined the newly launched Daily Star as chief sports photographer, going on to cover four World Cups and four Olympics.
His fondest career memory came in 1982 in the USA, when he was personally invited into boxer Muhammad Ali’s home by The Greatest himself.
In 1997, John left the Daily Star to freelance, and continued to see his pictures published in the nationals until just three weeks ago.
He won countless awards but the one he cherished most at his home in Southport, Merseyside, was the British Picture Editors’ Award, which he landed in 1994.
He leaves a wife of 45 years Marion, 64, and children Brendan, 40, Jack, 37 and Amanda, 35