Frank Worthington: Former England striker dies aged 72 following long illness

Frank Worthington began his career at Huddersfield in 1966 and has played for over 20 clubs in his 26-year career.

Former England striker Frank Worthington has died at the age of 72 after a long illness.

Worthington, who has eight England caps and two goals for the national team, began his career at Huddersfield Town.

He made over 200 appearances for Leicester City and played for clubs such as Bolton, Birmingham City, Southampton, Leeds United and Sunderland.

He was also player-manager of Tranmere Rovers.

Former Leicester striker and Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker paid his respects with a tweet: We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Frank Worthington. He was my hero as a kid when he was at LCFC.

A good footballer, an outsider and a great character who was so kind to this young student when he joined the club. RIP Frank. [Elvis]

Worthington was not only known for his antics off the field, but also for his skills on the field.

He played in the Football League for 22 consecutive seasons from 1966 to 1987, scoring 266 goals in 882 appearances in all competitions.

For 14 of those seasons he played in the highest league, scoring 150 goals in 466 games. He won the Golden Boot in the 1978/79 season, when he played for Bolton, as top scorer ahead of Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton.

That season he scored one of the most important goals of his career against Ipswich at Burnden Park in April 1979. He juggled the ball with his back to the goal on the edge of the penalty area, made a pirouette, evaded the onrushing defenders and scored low in the corner.

He coached Tranmere players from 1985 to 1987, after which he had several short spells at non-league clubs such as Chorley and Weymouth. Player-coach of the Halifax home club during the 1991-92 season.

He made all of his eight appearances for England in 1974, scoring in friendlies against Bulgaria and Argentina.

In a statement, the Professional Footballers’ Association said: We are very sad to hear the news about Frank Worthington. He was a great player and a great character who beat the game. He was also a great entertainer after dinner with his football stories.

Our deepest condolences to Carol and her family. Frank will be missed but never forgotten.

Former Bolton striker Alan Goulding, who assisted Worthington in the famous goal against Ipswich, told Radio Manchester: Frank was a very good player. We always had a little fun with me doing all his shopping for him while he did all the showbiz stuff.

Frank was there with George Best and others of that ilk in football. He had the image of a playboy. To be fair, he enjoyed his social life, but his football came first.

I will remember him as a good friend, a great footballer with the best left foot I have ever seen in anyone.

In 2016, Worthington’s daughter Kim Malu announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, which he publicly denied the next day.

In a statement, his wife Carol said: Frank has brought joy to many people throughout his career and in his personal life.

He will be greatly missed by all who loved him so much.

One of the game’s great artists is a tribute to Phil McNulty.

Frank Worthington will be remembered as one of football’s great entertainers, a gifted striker with a colourful lifestyle that made him popular with his teammates and with fans around the world.

Ian Greaves, his coach at Huddersfield Town and Bolton Wanderers, described him as a working George Best.

There were similarities on and off the field, but nothing should obscure or minimize the remarkable natural abilities that made the great Worthington one of the game’s most flexible and effective strikers.

He has been at many clubs in his career, but even that path could have taken a different turn when he moved from Huddersfield Town to Liverpool for £150,000 in the summer of 1972. The traditional signing photos were taken with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly and his then right-back Bob Paisley, except that Worthington had to undergo medical surgery for high blood pressure.

Frank Worthington signs for Liverpool in 1972 with Bill Shankly (left), assistant Bob Paisley (centre) and club secretary Peter Robinson (right) before the deal fell through.

Who knows how he would have fared at Anfield, but soon Leicester City, who he joined, and every club he played for afterwards were eternally grateful to have benefited from this former outsider – he even had a picture of his idol Elvis Presley on his desk when he was player-manager of Transworld Rovers, which caused excitement and amusement everywhere he went.

Worthington won just eight caps for England, but he played at a time when unpredictability was often greeted with suspicion.

He has had a glorious career in which he has stayed true to his footballing principles that the game is there for fun and enjoyment, and anyone who has seen him in action will be glad of that.

Club Legend Walkthrough – Worthington Gives Gifts.

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