Soccer

Ex-Leicester and England star Frank Worthington dies age 72 after long illness

Frank Worthington has died following a long illness, his family have announced.

Famously once described as “the working man’s George Best”, Worthington, 72, played for the likes of Huddersfield, Leicester and Bolton during a 24-year playing career.

He also made eight appearances for England, scoring two goals.

Worthington, one of the great mavericks of English football, had been suffering with an illness in recent years. He died peacefully in hospital on March 22, his family confirmed.

“It is with great sadness that the death is announced of football legend Frank Worthington who passed away last night,” read the statement from Worthington’s family.

"Frank died peacefully in hospital in Huddersfield following a long illness."

His wife, Carol, lead tributes: "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.”

Worthington was one of the greatest players of his generation and his playboy lifestyle – and outlandish sense of dress – made him a favourite with fans. He also refused to wear shinpads, playing with his socks around his ankles.

A scorer of great goals, he found the net 266 times in 882 appearances in all competitions and played 22 consecutive Football League seasons.

In 14 of those seasons he played in the top division, notching 150 goals in 466 matches, and won the Golden Boot award in 1978-79 as the leading scorer ahead of the likes of Kenny Dalglish and Frank Stapleton.

He would win Match of the Day's goal of the season the following year for a sensational virtuoso effort for Bolton against Ipswich.

His playing career also took him to Sweden, the USA and South Africa while in 1984 he also made three guest appearances for Manchester United on their post-season tour of Australia – despite being a Southampton player at the time.

He made a further guest appearance for the Red Devils in May 1985, in Peter Foley's testimonial against Oxford United.

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Worthington suffered from ill health in recent years, leading to his daughter announcing in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

He issued a statement the following day denying that he had the condition, insisting: “I have never been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or any other neurological disorder or illness.

“I do have some issues with short-term memory impairment but I have been assured this is not particularly unusual for a man of my age.”

Worthington’s first club, Huddersfield paid tribute, tweeting: “Everyone at #htafc is devastated to hear of the passing of Town legend Frank Worthington.

"Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Ex-Leicester, Spurs and England striker Gary Lineker also offered his condolences: "Profoundly saddened to hear that Frank Worthington has died. He was my boyhood hero.

"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)."

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