Trevor Francis | Britain’s First £1m Footballer | Obituary


Obituary – Trevor Francis – Britain’s First £1m Footballer

Footballing legend Trevor Francis, known as Britain’s first £1million player, has died aged 69 from a heart attack. His sudden death comes six years after the passing of his wife of more than four decades.

  • Died: July 24th, 2023
  • Details of death: died from a heart attack

Early Career

Francis quickly rose in status, making his debut for Birmingham City’s first team in 1970, aged just 16. His talent was noted when, before his 17th birthday, he scored four goals in a match against Bolton Wanderers. He ended his first season with 15 goals from just 22 games. Birmingham City manager at the time, Freddie Goodwin compared Francis to both Jimmy Greaves and Denis Law.

Birmingham City

In the 1970s, Birmingham City reached the occasional domestic semi-final but failed to make a great impact in the First Division championship, so the ability and achievements of Francis were made more noticeable as a result.

On 30 October 1976, he scored one of Birmingham’s most famous goals, when he turned away from the touchline and cut inside two Queens Park Rangers defenders, constantly being forced backwards, before suddenly unleashing a 25-yard shot.

Detroit Express

Francis negotiated a secondment from Birmingham in 1978 to play for the Detroit Express in the North American Soccer League (NASL), where he scored 22 goals in 19 league matches and was named to the NASL first XI alongside Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia before returning home to the Midlands.

Nottingham Forest
Nottingham Forest, the reigning First Division champions and League Cup holders managed by Brian Clough, put in a bid for Francis which totalled just over £1 million. No player had ever been sold between English clubs for a seven-figure fee before (the erstwhile record was less than half), and the deal was sealed, with Francis famously being introduced to the media by a manager impatient to play squash; Clough was in his red gym kit and carrying a racquet as he addressed the press conference.

While recognised as the first British million-pound player, the actual transfer fee for the player was £1,150,000, including 15% commission to the Football League. Clough wrote in his autobiography that the fee was £999,999, as he wanted to ensure the million-pound milestone did not go to the player’s head, although Francis says that was a tongue-in-cheek remark by Clough.

International Career

Francis played for England 52 times between 1977 and 1986 and scored 12 goals. In 1977, he was given his first England cap by Don Revie, in a 2–0 loss against the Netherlands. After missing out on Euro 1980 due to an Achilles injury, Francis was named in the England squad for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. In the first round of the tournament, he scored in the group games against Czechoslovakia and Kuwait. England were eliminated after two goalless draws against both the host nation and West Germany. In spring 1986, he made his 52nd and final appearance for England in a victory over Scotland, and was subsequently not selected for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico.

Personal Life & Death

Francis married Helen in 1974. The couple had two children together. On 5 April 2017, it was reported that Helen Francis had died.

On 13 April 2012, Francis was reported to be recovering in hospital from a suspected heart attack.

Francis died of a heart attack at his home near Marbella, Spain, on 24 July 2023. He was 69.

Date of birth: 19th April 1954

Date of Death: 24th July 2023 (aged 83)



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