LONDON: Former England striker Frank Worthington has died aged 72 following a long illness.
Worthington, who won eight England caps and scored twice for the national team, began his career at Huddersfield Town.
He went on to make more than 200 appearances for Leicester City and played for clubs including Bolton, Birmingham City, Southampton, Leeds United and Sunderland. He also had a spell as player-manager of Tranmere Rovers.
Former Leicester striker Gary Lineker paid tribute, tweeting: “Profoundly saddened to hear that Frank Worthington has died. He was my boyhood hero when he was at LCFC.
“A beautiful footballer, a maverick and a wonderful character who was so kind to this young apprentice when he joined the club. RIP Frank [Elvis].”
Worthington was known as much for his flamboyant antics off the pitch as he was for his maverick talents on it.
He played in 22 consecutive Football League seasons from 1966 to 1987, scoring 266 goals in 882 appearances in all competitions.
In 14 of those campaigns he played in the top division, scoring 150 goals in 466 matches, and won the Golden Boot award playing for Bolton in 1978-79 as the leading scorer ahead of Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and Arsenal’s Frank Stapleton.
It was during that season he scored one of the defining goals of his career against Ipswich at Burnden Park in April 1979, juggling the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the penalty area before turning, knocking the ball over the onrushing defenders and volleying low into the corner.
He was player-manager of Tranmere between 1985-87 before having a number of short spells at non-league clubs including Chorley and Weymouth. He was player-coach at hometown club Halifax in the 1991-92 season.
He made all eight of his England appearances 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 great character who lit up the game. He was also a marvellous after dinner entertainer with his football tales.
“Our deepest sympathies to Carol and all his family. Frank will be much missed but never forgotten.”
In 2016, Worthington’s daughter, Kim Malou, announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease though he denied this the following day.
In a statement, his wife Carol said: “Frank brought joy to so many people throughout his career and in his private life.
“He will be greatly missed by everyone who loved him so much.”