SAINTS and Great Britain rugby league legend Alex Murphy OBE celebrates his 80th birthday today – Easter Monday.

A proud son of Thatto Heath, the former St Austin’s school pupil signed for Saints on his 16th birthday in 1955 and made his first team debut 51 weeks later.

He was no stranger to the team – spotted as a prodigious talent, Murphy had been allowed to train with the first team squad as a 15-year-old.

He was marked out as a player with star quality – and he had the skills and a magnetism that would make him the biggest personality in rugby league.

Blisteringly quick, Murphy’s performances in 1957/8 season were so impressive that he made the Great Britain tour to Australia at 18 - the youngest ever tourist. He would go on to play for Great Britain 27 times.

Murphy would go on to win every domestic team honour with the Saints – winning at Wembley with his hometown club in 1961 and 1966, skippering the team in the latter of those.

His love of Wembley continued after he left Saints for Leigh in 1967, and was player-coach when the Hilton Parkers pulled off a shock win against Leeds beneath the Twin Towers in 1971.

A move to Warrington – again as player coach – saw more Challenge Cup success in 1974.

When he finally hung up his boots, Murphy had coaching spells at Salford, then back at Leigh – where he guided them to the League Championship in 1982 – and then he got the ball rolling at sleeping giants Wigan.

He returned to Saints in November 1985 – and although he guided Saints to Wembley in 1987 and 1989 defeats to Halifax and Wigan ensued.

However, Saints did win the John Player Trophy for the only time under Murphy.

Long after retirement he remains one of the town's favourite sons - and worshipped as the greatest by those who ever had the privilege of seeing him play.

Happy birthday, Alex!