• February 5, 2023

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

Frank Worthington began his career with Huddersfield in 1966 and has played for more than 20 clubs during his 26-year career

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

Worthington, who won eight international matches in England and scored twice for the national team, began his career in Huddersfield Town.

He has played for Leicester City more than 200 times and played for clubs such as Bolton, Birmingham City, Southampton, Leeds United and Sunderland.

He also worked as a player manager at Tranmere Rovers.

Former Leicester forward and BBC Match of the Day host Gary Lineker paid tribute, tweeted, “It’s deeply sad to hear Frank Worthington’s death. He was my childhood hero when he was with LCFC.

“A beautiful soccer player, outsider and wonderful character who was so kind to this young apprentice when he joined the club. RIP Frank (Elvis).”

Worthington was as known for his flamboyant off-field antics as he was for his underdog talents.

He played 22 consecutive seasons in the Football League from 1966 to 1987 and scored 266 goals in 882 games in all competitions.

In 14 of these campaigns he played in the top division and scored 150 goals in 466 games. In 1978-79 he won the Golden Boot Award for Bolton as top scorer ahead of Kenny Dalglish from Liverpool and Frank Stapleton from Arsenal.

That season he scored one of the defining goals of his career against Ipswich at Burnden Park in April 1979 by juggling the ball with his back to the goal on the edge of the box before turning and throwing the ball over the aspiring defenders and volleying deep in the corner.

He was player manager for Tranmere from 1985 to 1987 before spending brief periods at non-league clubs such as Chorley and Weymouth. In the 1991/92 season he was player-coach at the home club Halifax.

He played all eight games in England in 1974 and scored friendly matches against Bulgaria and Argentina.

In a statement, the Professional Football Association said: “We are very sad to hear the news about Frank Worthington. He was a great player and a great character lighting the game. He was also a great post-dinner entertainer with his football stories.

“Our deepest condolences to Carol and his whole family. Frank is greatly missed but never forgotten.”

In 2016, Worthington’s daughter Kim Malou announced he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he denied publicly On the next day.

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

“He will be missed very much by everyone who loved him so much.”

“One of the game’s great entertainers” – Phil McNulty’s tribute

Frank Worthington will be remembered as one of the game’s great entertainers, a superbly gifted striker with a colorful lifestyle adored by teammates and loved by fans everywhere.

Ian Greaves, his manager in Huddersfield Town and Bolton Wanderers, called him the “George Best of the Worker”.

There were similarities on and off the field, but nothing is allowed to ever obscure or downplay the wonderful natural ability that made the great Worthington one of the silky and effective attackers in the game.

He has graced a multitude of clubs throughout his career, but even that path may have taken a different turn when he moved from Huddersfield Town to Liverpool for £ 150,000 in the summer of 1972. The traditional signature pictures were taken with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly and his then right-hand man Bob Paisley only for Worthington to fail medical because of “high blood pressure”.

Frank Worthington signed for Liverpool in 1972 - before the deal collapsedFrank Worthington signed for Liverpool in 1972 with Bill Shankly (left), assistant Bob Paisley (center) and club secretary Peter Robinson (right) before the deal collapsed

Who knows how he would have fared at Anfield, but Leicester City, which he soon joined and all the clubs he later played for, were eternally grateful to have benefited from the services of this one-time outsider – him even had a picture of his idol Elvis Presley on his desk as player manager at Tranmere Rovers – which brought excitement and entertainment everywhere.

Worthington only won eight caps in England, but played at a time when unpredictability was often viewed with suspicion.

He had a glorious career in which he stayed true to his football principles that the game was about entertainment and pleasure, and anyone who saw him in action will be glad he did.

The Death of a Club Legend – Worthington Tribute

Jack

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