FORMER Bradford Northern player Ian Van Bellen has died at the age of 73.

The popular forward began his career with home-town Huddersfield, signing as a 17-year-old in 1963, and also played for Castleford, Fulham, Halifax, Kent Invicta and Keighley.

The prop was brought to Odsal by Peter Fox from Huddersfield for £1,500 in October 1977 and played his part in one of Northern’s most successful periods.

Van Bellen featured in Bradford’s 17-8 win over Widnes at Swinton in the Premiership final of 1978.

He was a part of the side who also beat Widnes 6-0 in the final of the John Player Trophy at Headingley in January 1980 before going on to win the First Division title the same season.

Van Bellen, whose younger brother Gary also played for Northern, moved to Fulham for £5,000 ahead of the 1980-81 campaign, where he became a cult hero for the London club in their early days.

He made 25 appearances for Fulham, scoring four tries in their historic first season at Craven Cottage.

He joined Blackpool and then played for Halifax, Kent Invicta and Keighley before retiring in 1985.

Following news of his death, Huddersfield Giants wore black armbands against Leeds Rhinos in their last match as a mark of respect, while London Broncos held a minute’s applause before their game with Salford.

Van Bellen also played rugby union for Huddersfield RUFC, with his father being the former long-serving steward at the Waterloo ground.