Barry John, seen here in his playing days for Wales, died on Sunday.. (Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images)
Barry John, known as the “King” of Welsh rugby during a golden era and arguably the sport’s first superstar, has died. He was 79.
“Barry John died peacefully today at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his loving wife and four children,” said a statement from his family on Sunday.
“He was a loving Dadcu (grandfather) to his 11 grandchildren and much-loved brother.”
John shot to fame after guiding the British and Irish Lions to a series victory over New Zealand in 1971, a period when rugby union was still amateur.
But the fly-half hung up his boots at the age of 27, unable to cope with the attention that followed the oval ball’s then-equivalent of Manchester United’s George Best.
“Barry was just about reaching his zenith then. He should have stayed in rugby a damned sight longer than he did. The world never saw the best of Barry John,” Wales and Lions No 8 Mervyn Davies said in Peter Jackson’s book, the Lions of Wales.
John, born in Cefneithin, north west of Swansea, in 1945, first played first-cl
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