A SKETCH drawn by a youthful John Lennon which later became a famed album cover is now thought to be of a North-East footballer.

Researchers believe that the iconic sketch used as Lennon’s album cover for his 1974 record Walls and Bridges is of Newcastle United legend George Robledo, heading home the winner in Newcastle’s 1952 FA Cup final against Arsenal.

The drawing was created by Lennon when he was only 11 years old.

Author Nestor Flores was in the middle of researching the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of George’s late brother, Ted Robledo, when he discovered the famous photograph.

It wasn’t until much later he realised it was the artwork for Lennon’s fifth album.

Mr Nestor said: “By reviewing hundreds of records and after going through loads of old photographs I found a picture of Robledo scoring that goal.

“After writing a bit more, and after having a good night’s sleep, I realised the picture of the goal was almost identical to the cover of John Lennon’s album.

“That photo was taken on May 3, 1952, and Lennon’s drawing is dated June of that year.”

Robledo eventually retired to his native Chile in Vina del Mar, with his wife, Gladys, now 83, where he died of a heart attack in 1989, aged 62.

His daughter, Elizabeth, 48, who now lives in Sydney, Australia, said she was lost for words at the “incredible” discovery.

She said: “It’s amazing that a young writer from Valparaiso discovered that dad was drawn by John Lennon when he just 11 years old.

“My mum still loves the club – and any other English news. I keep her up to date with Newcastle news and I think she even goes to see some English games in Chile.”