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Trevor Francis: Former England, Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday striker dies aged 69

Trevor Francis played for Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Man City, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Rangers, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday; striker became Britain's first £1m footballer; he won the European Cup twice with Forest; he featured 52 times for England, scoring 12 goals

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Former Nottingham Forest striker Trevor Francis talks about his greatest-ever game, the 1979 European Cup final

Former England striker and first British £1m player Trevor Francis has died aged 69.

Francis died at his home near Marbella in Spain on Monday morning, a spokesman for the family has confirmed.

The statement said: "Trevor Francis has died at the age of 69.

"He had a heart attack at his apartment in Spain this morning. On behalf of the family, this has come as a huge shock to everybody. We are all very upset. He was a legendary footballer but he was also an extremely nice person."

Born in Plymouth in 1954, Francis started his career at Birmingham City and went on to score 119 goals in 280 league appearances for the club before becoming Britain's first £1m player when he joined Nottingham Forest in 1979.

Trevor Francis
Image: Francis was Britain's first £1m player

Speaking about being the first £1m player in an interview back in 2019, Francis said: "I never realised at the time the significance of it.

"I smashed, literally smashed, the transfer record. Doubled it. It was just a magical figure - a million pounds. Paris Saint-Germain spent nearly £200m on Neymar, but I don't think it has the same magical appeal that £1m did.

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Francis picked the best players he played with in his #One2Eleven

"Do I feel proud of being the first £1m player? Absolutely."

Francis went on to score the winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final as Forest beat Malmo 1-0 and was part of the squad when the club won the competition again the following year.

He left Forest for Manchester City in 1981 before having spells in Italy with Sampdoria and Atalanta.

He went on to play for Rangers, Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday before retiring in 1994.

Francis won 52 caps for England, scoring 12 goals between 1977 and 1986, and featured at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

After his playing career, he moved into management and had spells in charge of QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham City and Crystal Palace.

He guided Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham to major finals as a manager.

Former Forest team-mate Peter Shilton was among the first to pay tribute to Francis.

The former England goalkeeper tweeted: "I'm absolutely devastated to hear about my old team mate Trevor Francis such a wonderful gentleman a friend and a terrible loss."

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Peter Shilton pays tribute to Francis, saying his former team-mate was capable of scoring incredible solo goals

Another of his former team-mates Viv Anderson said: "Just heard the unbelievable news regarding Trevor Francis, he was such a wonderful person and fabulous teammate he will be sadly missed, my condolences go to his family and friends RIP."

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Former Nottingham Forest captain John McGovern pays tribute to Francis, saying the person behind the player was just as impressive

A tweet from Birmingham City read: "Blues is deeply saddened and shocked to learn of the passing of club legend Trevor Francis, at the age of 69 on Monday 24 July 2023.

"Trevor will forever be revered as a giant of the club, the player everyone wanted to see. He represented Blues on 330 occasions, scoring 133 goals. Blues sends its thoughts and deepest sympathies to Trevor's family and friends."

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Former Birmingham midfielder Michael Johnson pays tribute to his former manager Francis

A tweet from Forest read: "Nottingham Forest is deeply saddened to learn the passing of two-time European Cup winner, Trevor Francis. A true Forest legend who will never be forgotten."

Another of Francis' former clubs, Sheffield Wednesday, tweeted: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Trevor Francis. Our thoughts are with Trevor's family and friends at this incredibly difficult time."

'One of the best English players of all time'

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol pays tribute to Trevor Francis:

"Trevor Francis will go down in history as not just the first British £1m player but also as one of the best English players of all time.

"I was fortunate to watch him play towards the end of his career when he was playing for Queens Park Rangers and he was an incredible player to watch. His touch, vision, movement, some of the goals he scored for QPR are still talked about to this day.

"I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times at Sky Studios. The last time I met him I told him he was one of the best players I'd ever seen in my life, and I think he was quite touched by that.

Trevor Francis

"The move to Nottingham Forest was incredible not just because it was for £1m - that was an extraordinary amount of money in 1979 - but also because of what Forest had done. They'd gone from the Second Division and in their first season back in the top flight they won the title.

"Then the following season they won the European Cup again. He joined Forest when they were the champions, Brian Clough signed him. When he was introduced to the press, Clough turned up in his squash kit and with a racquet because he was going off to play afterwards.

"Trevor Francis went on to score one of the most famous goals in English football, the winning goal in the 1979 European Cup final - a brilliant header.

"He was an incredible player, an incredible man."

Francis had a life packed with magic memories

Sky Sports' football feature writer Adam Bate:

The first million-pound player in English football, Trevor Francis was also only the second Englishman to score a winning goal in a European Cup final and what is telling about the outpouring following his death is how many were touched by his talent.

Francis is regarded as Birmingham City's greatest-ever player. He scored the most significant goal in the history of Nottingham Forest. But there are also fond memories at Queens Park Rangers - his hat-trick goal against old rivals Aston Villa, aged 35, is worth a watch.

At Sheffield Wednesday, he took over as manager in 1991 and guided the newly-promoted team to third place in the top division - a feat that has been bettered by only two English managers in the subsequent 32 years. Two Wembley cup finals followed in 1993.

Sampdoria player Trevor Francis in action as Napoli's Diego Maradona looks on
Image: Francis in action for Sampdoria as Napoli's Diego Maradona looks on

And that is just in England. Francis' record in Italy, with Sampdoria and Atalanta, was impressive enough for Fabio Capello to rate him as the best of his countrymen ever to make the adjustment to Serie A. He continues to be fondly remembered at Sampdoria.

Speaking to Francis a decade ago, fresh from a trip back to Genoa, he was noticeably thrilled by that. "It had been 30 years since I had seen some of those people. I was greatly appreciated by the supporters and they gave me a warm welcome on my return," he said.

"It was a wonderful two or three days and it was particularly nice to go back there with my son because he was not born when I had been out there. So while he had heard about it and seen photographs, it was lovely for him to see all that."

One memory among a lifetime of them. He will be missed.

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