TRIBUTES have been paid to former footballer Ally Dawson – who honed his skills as a boy at Johnstone High School before going on to captain Rangers – after his death at the age of 63.

Mr Dawson, who had been battling ill health, made 315 appearances for the Ibrox club during a 12-year spell there.

He also earned five Scotland caps under legendary manager Jock Stein in the early 1980s.

Mr Dawson was well known in the local area, having grown up in Johnstone Castle and served as a member of the 3rd Johnstone Boys' Brigade.

His family said in a statement: "It is with much sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Ally Dawson following a long battle with illness.

"To us, Ally was a loving husband, father, son and brother but we know he meant a lot to so many others.

"We will remember the impact he had on our family with affection, inspired by the courage with which he fought his illness and the way he lived his life and grateful that Ally spent his final days with those he loved and who loved him."

Mr Dawson joined Rangers in 1975, at the age of 16, after leaving Johnstone High.

The full-back suffered a fractured skull on a club tour of North America in an incident which many felt prevented him reaching his true potential.

However, he went on to captain Rangers and won two Scottish Cups and four League Cups.

Rangers said they were "extremely saddened" to hear of their former player's death.

"The thoughts of the directors, staff and players of Rangers are today with the family and friends of Ally," the club added in a statement.

Mr Dawson moved to Blackburn in 1987 and spent three years at Ewood Park before spells with Limerick and Airdrie and a stint as a player/manager in Malta.

He later spent three years as Hamilton manager, leading Accies to the Third Division title in 2001.

The former defender went on to be a youth coach with Rangers and then worked for the Street Soccer Scotland charity.

Mr Dawson was a founder member of the organisation and coached Scotland to the Homeless World Cup title in 2011.

David Duke, founder and chief executive of Street Soccer Scotland, said: "The Street Soccer family is deeply saddened by Ally's passing. We have all lost a father figure and a brilliant man whose positive impact on those he worked with and those he supported will never be forgotten.

"Ally was humble, kind-hearted and gifted. There are many Street Soccer people today who have lost a great friend and mentor and somebody who changed their lives for the better.

"Our thoughts are with Ally's family and friends at this difficult time.

"In due course, we will consider how best to reflect Ally's legacy in Street Soccer Scotland but, for now, we are all reflecting on a profound contribution to our collective journey and missing Ally immensely."