The final whistle for Sam after 106 years

A FORMER professional footballer whose determination to stay fit helped him become the country's oldest man has died at the age of 106.

Sam Latter passed away peacefully in his seat at Strachan House in Blackhall, where staff called him the "elder statesman and mascot" of the home.

Friends and relatives have also paid tribute to the former player, whose funeral – attended by more than 100 people – took place on Tuesday.

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His closest relative was great nephew Edward Green, who said: "There are mixed feelings. It's a wonderful chance to celebrate a great, gentle man, but of course we are sad he has passed away.

"He was active mentally and physically right until the last few days. He was still interested in what was going on around him like the World Cup.

"He was always a lovely, refined person with a great sense of humour, taking great care in keeping fit and not eating excessively.

"He retained an interest in the people around him and I think that helped him live so long."

Glasgow-born Mr Latter was a professional footballer for the now extinct side Third Lanark, and moved to the Capital in 1931 to be with his wife Flora. She died in 1990.

He lived in Liberton for 70 years before moving to the care home.

In August last year when Rutherglen man Bob Taggart died at the age of 109, Mr Latter inherited the title of Scotland's oldest living man.

Friend Tony Sheldon said: "He was always bright and alert and very fit for his age.

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"He suffered a broken hip in 2000 and a broken leg two years ago, but he refused to get downhearted and his charismatic personality made him a great favourite.

"He died hours before the World Cup match between England and the USA – perhaps he knew more than we did."

As well as his football career he worked in business selling tyres before opening a sweet shop on Lothian Road in the 1950s.

He and his wife had no children.

Fiona Moncur, general manager at the home, said: "We're all really sad and he will be missed. He was the elder statesman of the home, and something of a mascot."