Vic Barney, a former Headington United captain who became one of the first Englishmen to play league football in Italy, has died at the age of 84.

Barney, who lived in Farmers Close, Witney, died at the John Radcliffe Hospital on Friday.

It was in 1946 that Barney played a season for Napoli and he made such an impression at the southern Italy club, that he was greeted as a hero when he returned to celebrate his golden wedding there in 1992.

In the last year of the Second World War, when he was an infantryman in the British Army, Barney was sent to Naples for rest and recuperation after a battleground accident.

He soon found himself in charge of the football stadium.

"Before war broke out, I had been a good little footballer and the word got round as it does in the services," the 5ft 5in Barney once recalled.

"In 1945, the War was virtually over and the stadium was being used for top games involving army teams.

"I got to play as an inside forward, and the Italian lads, seeing me play, got friendly.

"Not long after I was turning out for Napoli a lone Englishman in an Italian team. It was a wonderful experience."

On his return to England, Mr Barney, who had moved from London's East End to Oxfordshire after marrying his wife Alma, played league football for Reading, Bristol City and Grimsby Town.

In 1950, he joined Headington United the forerunner of Oxford United and played for them for three seasons in the Southern League, the last two as captain.

Following a disagreement with United over the terms offered to him for the 1952-3 season, he was given a free transfer and signed for Guildford.

He then went to work at Pressed Steel, where he was player and coach for the company football team.

But his passion for the game also took him into boys football, training youngsters at Shipton-under- Wychwood.

Even after having triple bypass heart surgery in his seventies, he still coached pupils at the King's School, in Witney.

His two sons, Victor and Duncan, also had spells in the game with Bristol Rovers and Oxford City.

Mr Barney used to joke how little money he received, compared with today's footballers.

"The top money when I was in the game was £8 per week, £2 win bonus and £1 for a draw," he once said.

"But I've loved the game all my life and the memories are precious. Returning to Naples in 1992 was one of the best."

His neighbour, Neil Grace, said: "Vic was a great character, for whom football was a abiding passion. He had no other hobbies as far as I know."

A funeral service for Mr Barney, who leaves a widow and two sons, will be held the Holy Trinity Church, Witney on Monday, June 5 at 2pm, followed by burial.