- He played for more than 20 clubs including Leicester
- Gary Lineker pays tribute to his ‘boyhood hero’
Frank Worthington pictured with Leicester City in 1973. Photograph: PA
The Guardian- PA Media and Guardian sport
The former England forward Frank Worthington has died at the age of 72 after a long illness, his family have said.
Worthington played for more than 20 clubs including Huddersfield, Leicester and Bolton during a long career that stretched from 1966 to 1991.
One of English football’s great mavericks, he made his England appearances in 1974, scoring two goals. His family said he died peacefully in hospital in Huddersfield on Monday.
Worthington is well remembered for his wonderful individual goal for Bolton in a Division One match against Ipswich in 1979.
Worthington’s wife Carol paid tribute to the much-loved football showman. “Frank brought joy to so many people throughout his career and in his private life,” she said. “He will be greatly missed by everyone who loved him so much.”
Gary Lineker was among those in the world of football to praise Worthington’s influence. “Profoundly saddened to hear that Frank Worthington has died,” tweeted the former Leicester, Tottenham and England striker. “He was my boyhood hero when he was at Leicester City. 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).”
Former Scotland striker Ally McCoist, who partnered Worthington up front at Sunderland in the 1982-83 season, believes his former teammate should have earned far more than his eight England caps. “Make no mistake about it, Frank Worthington should have 40, 50 caps,” McCoist told talkSPORT. “He was talented beyond belief, and for an old-fashioned ball-player of that generation, Frank was up there with the best of them. I’m gutted, absolutely gutted.”
Worthington started his career at Huddersfield before moving to Leicester in 1972. He went on to play in the US, Sweden, South Africa, the Republic of Ireland and Wales as well as for numerous league and non-league clubs in England.
He had a spell as player-manager of Tranmere and later became an after-dinner speaker. Worthington also released an autobiography, One Hump or Two, which contained entertaining accounts from his playing days, as well as stories about his life off the pitch.
Unashamedly non-establishment, Worthington hit the headlines as much for his off-field exploits as his rarefied talents on it.
Once described by the former Huddersfield and Bolton manager Ian Greaves as “the working man’s George Best”, Worthington played in 22 consecutive Football League seasons from 1966-67, scoring 266 goals in 882 appearances in all competitions.
In 14 of those seasons he played in the top division, scoring 150 goals in 466 matches, and won the Golden Boot in 1978-79 as the leading scorer ahead of Kenny Dalglish and Frank Stapleton.
In 2016 he denied claims by his daughter Kim-Malou Worthington that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.