Mel Charles, who played as a defender and a striker, spent seven years with Swansea before joining the Gunners in 1959 for a reported fee of £46,750 – a record for a transfer between two British clubs at the time.
He also earned 31 caps for Wales and was part of the side that reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 1958, with Brazil great Pele reportedly describing him as the best defender he faced during the tournament.
“It’s a sad, sad loss,” Swansea coach Alan Curtis told the club’s official website. “Mel was part of a huge sporting family in Swansea.
“Not only was he highly respected as a footballer, he was a fantastic character who enjoyed life to the full. Everybody loved to be in his company.
“There is no doubt he will go down as one of Swansea and Wales’ greatest players and will now join that great football team in heaven.”
The brother of ex-Leeds, Juventus and Roma great John Charles and father of Jeremy Charles, who played for Swansea between 1976 and 1983, Mel also had spells with Cardiff City and Port Vale before retiring in 1972.
He worked a number of jobs following his retirement and published an autobiography in 2009, entitled ‘In The Shadow Of A Giant’, in reference to his brother.
He is understood to have been in a care home in recent times due to ill health.