Former England player Frank Worthington passes away age 72 following illness, his family have announced on Tuesday morning.
Worthington played for the likes of Huddersfield, Leicester and Bolton during a 24-year playing career, while also making eight appearances for England and finding the net twice.
The much loved player was dubbed as one of the great mavericks of English football, however had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in recent years.
He died peacefully in hospital on the 22nd of March, his family confirmed, with his wife, Carol, leading tributes.
“Frank brought joy to so many people throughout his career and in his private life,” said Carol Worthington.
“He will be greatly missed by everyone who loved him so much.”
Worthington was one of the greatest players of his generation, ‘maverick’ a word certainly branded about by fans, and also had a playboy lifestyle while an outlandish sense of dress.
A scorer of some cracking goals, he found the net over 250 times during a playing career which also took him to Sweden, the USA and even South Africa.
In 1984, he also made three guest appearances for Manchester United on their post-season tour of Australia – yet he was a Southampton player at the time.
He made a further guest appearance for the Premier League club in May 1985, in Peter Foley’s testimonial against Oxford United.
1966–1972 – Huddersfield Town – 171 games (41 goals)
1972–1977 – Leicester City – 210 games (72 goals)
1977–1979 – Bolton Wanderers – 84 games (35 goals)
1979 → Philadelphia Fury (loan) – 21 games (10 goals)
1979–1982 – Birmingham City – 75 games (29 goals)
1980 → Mjällby AIF (loan) – 12 games (4 goals)
1981 → Tampa Bay Rowdies (loan) – 26 games (11 goals)
1982 – Leeds United – 32 games (14 goals)
1982–1983 – Sunderland – 19 games (2 goals)
1983–1984 – Southampton – 34 games (4 goals)
1984–1985 – Brighton & Hove Albion – 31 games (7 goals)
1985–1987 – Tranmere Rovers – 59 games (21 goals)
1987 – Preston North End – 23 games (3 goals)
1987–1988 – Stockport County – 19 games (6 goals)
1988 – Cape Town Spurs
1988 – Chorley
1988–1989 – Stalybridge Celtic
1989 – Galway United
1989 – Weymouth
1989–1990 – Radcliffe Borough
1990 – Guiseley
1990–1991 – Hinckley Town
1991 – Cemaes Bay
1991–1992 – Halifax Town (player-coach)
Total – 828 games (260 goals)
1974 – England – 8 games (2 goals)
1985–1987 – Tranmere Rovers
In an interview with LeicestershireLive in 2011 he described playing under Jimmy Bloomfield as the favourite time in his career.
“It was an absolutely iconic time,” he said. “Fantastic.
“I had a brilliant time with brilliant players. Jimmy Bloomfield was a brilliant man and an excellent manager. He gave us licence to express ourselves. He was one of my favourite all-time managers.
“It ranked right at the top as one the best times during my career.
“There were some of my favourite characters down there. Alan Birchenall is my all-time favourite. Then we had Keith Weller, Jon Sammels and Steve Earle, who all joined from London clubs, because there was a connection between Leicester and London at that time.
“And then Dennis Rofe signed from Leyton Orient, and he was a really tough full-back. We called him Sid James out of the Carry On films, because he looked so much like him.
“We had a great time on and off the pitch. We were good enough to win a trophy.
“We wanted to entertain but you need that underlying hunger to win, not just entertain. But that wasn’t for the want of trying. We wanted to win.”
Former Leicester City striker, Frank Worthington has passed away at the age of 72.
His family announced the news in a statement this morning.
One of the most entertaining players to ever wear a Foxes shirt 🦊 pic.twitter.com/tORdverwH7
— BBC Leicester Sport (@BBCRLSport) March 23, 2021
Worthington admitted he liked an active social life away from football but said ultimately the football always came first, despite his reputation.
“When I first went to Leicester I stayed in the Holiday Inn in St Nicholas Circle and it was absolutely amazing,” he said.
“I was there for about nine months because they couldn’t get me out of there. I loved it. All the stars from Bailey’s nightclub all stayed there.
“We got to meet these guys and they would come down to watch our games, and it was reciprocal between us footballers and the stars of entertainment.
“Nothing came before football. It was the be-all and end-all of everything.”
“I established myself in the England team and scored a winning goal for my country, and we did really well and then Don Revie took over and destroyed it all,” he said not holding any grudges on a short international career.
“There were players like myself and Tony Currie, who was another superb player, who were pushed out as he got rid of the skill and went for the workers. They were good club players but weren’t international players.
“Revie took English football down a couple of grades. In my time, Sir Alf Ramsey and Joe Mercer were iconic figures.
“Jim Bloomfield should have been made an England manager. He had all the credentials and the background to manage his country. He was a brilliant guy to play for.
“I don’t think about not winning more caps because I have never dealt in negativity. I concentrated on positivity and that is why Leicester was such a great time in my career because we only dealt in positivity.”
“As I grew up in Halifax, my two brothers, Bob and Dave, both defenders, played professional football for 20 years for Halifax, Notts County, Middlesbrough, Southend United and Grimsby,” he said on feeling blessed.
“I was the lucky one because I was given the talent to get to the top of English football.
“I was blessed with attacking skill and that was all to do with control of the ball. Not ball control, but control of the ball.
“I learned at a very early age you never let the ball do what it wants to do. You make the ball do what you want to do. It was bred into me.
“I used that to get to the top of English football, and I did that through Leicester City. I was so lucky.
“You know that Kylie Minogue song, ‘I should be so lucky, lucky, lucky’? I adore little Kylie. She is fabulous.”
Fans reacted as the former England player passes away age 72 following illness…
Frank Worthington RIP. Maverick with magic in his boots, full of tricks & goals, juggling ball over Ipswich defence and volleying in for #bwfc, dancing across muddy pitches. #htafc #lcfc legend. Mad he got only 8 #eng caps (2 goals). Thoughts with Frank’s family & friends. #elvis
— Henry Winter (@henrywinter) March 23, 2021
🖤 It is with great sadness that Bolton Wanderers has today learned of the passing of club legend Frank Worthington.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/tEYRFCaw1P
— Bolton Wanderers (@OfficialBWFC) March 23, 2021
Goodbye Frank Worthington, maverick and genius. Simply my favourite player of all time. You gave me a love of the beautiful game. pic.twitter.com/buAOeBsBO3
— Thogdad (@thogdad) March 23, 2021
Former Leicester, Bolton and England star Frank Worthington has sadly passed away aged 72.
RIP Frank. 🌹 pic.twitter.com/UH1m8bT4S3
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) March 23, 2021
— Mark (@gelderdend_com) March 23, 2021
@dealatrip: Just a great footballer who loved playing the game. RIP Frank.
@peterbing1712: So many great footballers passing away, I remember Frank playing. I’d say he was the Eric Cantona of his day, bit of a maverick but what a player he was. RIP Frank. Condolences to your family
@leenorganics: Peter Lorrimer and Frank Worthington in the same week, two legends of the beautiful game RIP
@AdamWhiteside5: Heard so many stories from my Granddad about Frank Worthington. A legend who will forever be in Bolton folklore for that outstanding goal against Ipswich. RIP.
@MartinWilly: First ever game I went to Worthy scored that goal however I Didn’t see it as I was kicking a klix coffee cup up and down the Manny Road Terrace. What an absolute legend of a player. A legend of a man and a fine after dinner speaker. Much love. Sleep well legend.
@sterambo1967: He lived life to the full, whilst Its ok to be sad at his passing I’m very grateful to have had the privilege of watching his magic in the white shirt … his best footballing years were with us. RIP Frank
@Monkbythesea: Absolutely devastated. What a hero this man was. I’ll never forget that goal against Ipswich, we actually lost the match but it felt like a win
@OttoLeicester: One of the best players I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and he was wearing a Leicester City shirt. RIP
@CoplandGary: That is very sad news 😞. I remember being seated next to him & a gorgeous young blonde lady in the early 80’a. I was in awe of the guy we referred to as the English George Best. Wonderful player & he had a good eye for the ladies & the goal. RIP Frank 😢
@CarrotteG: My favourite Frank Worthington quote: “I was always a crumpet man, not a boozer”.
@richarddoxsey: I was at Burnden Park the day he scored that goal. A goal so great no-one cared we lost the game. We had just witnessed true greatness. Such a fabulous footballer to watch. He should have had 100 caps. I suspect if he was Brazilian he probably would have !!
@PhilWardle: Played against him in a charity match in aid of a teammate who died from cancer in his 20s. Proper bloke, incredible skills, and took the time to sink a few beers with everyone in the clubhouse afterwards. RIP
@St_JaMe5: My Grandad always used to tell me about THAT goal he scored when I was younger, he was a big fan of Frank and often said that was his favourite ever goal. RIP
@spkinson: Similar childhood memories. The elegance, control and touch. So much time on the ball. And of course the hair. RIP
@secondflight2: Sad to hear of the passing of former team mate Frank Worthington, Frank was a great character blessed with tremendous skill, it was a pleasure to have been in the same dressing room as him
Will always remember the afternoons in Magaluf with Frank holding court in a beach bar
@jobeylad: Frank, you were worth the admission fee alone. Thanks for being this boys hero. A genius with a football. R.I.P
@fjackneal: RIP FRANK …….When you and archie gemmil played together you always knew where each other were on the pitch, you passed to each other without looking up, such a joy to watch…..SAD DAY…”OHhhh frankie frankie, frankie frankie frankie frankie worthington…God bless you..
@MickSTaylor: As a boy, I used to deliver newspapers to Frank. I’m a Town fan and he was my dad’s favourite player, so it always made my day to see Frank’s friendly smile. And he smiled a lot. Amazing footballer too 🙂
@Eggyfartz: One of football’s greatest entertainers. Hopefully he and Elvis are rocking the heavens
@jimwilkz: My final memory of Frank Worthington playing is seeing him get sent off at Gigg Lane when he was player manager at Tranmere. He walked into a crowd of players disputing some decision & what he said must have been so funny both sets of players were clutching their ribs as he left
@mandmflem: RIP Frank Worthington. A great player, & a great adversary in an era when rivalry between teams was real & robust. Not like these modern times when it’s carried out by juveniles hiding behind their keyboards, throwing personal insults at players & their families.
@fedgilb: 14 Goals in 32 appearances for Leeds in 1982. I can still see him raising his hands after scoring. What a character. Not some much a Leeds Legend. More Simply a legend! #lufc RIP Frank Worthington
@air_mason: This bloke was one of the most entertaining and gifted of his generation! A real character as well…. RIP ‘the great’ Frank Worthington
@TerryMac777: Devastated to hear the passing of Frank Worthington, a larger than life character who will be sorely missed by everyone. Thoughts with all his family #ripfrank
@_toosb: RIP Frank Worthington. One the best players I ever saw at Sunderland and he was past his best by then too. I remember him being a pundit on Sky Sports in about 1992. Richard Keys kept calling him “Fabulous Frank”. Frank told him to stop crawling about and just call me Frank.
@ProfJeffKenner: Met Frank Worthington on the train once going to a football match in the last 70s. Charming, friendly and highly intelligent – best days were at Huddersfield in the early 70s.