'We all loved him' - Club legends pay tribute to ex-Sunderland, Huddersfield, Leicester, Bolton and England striker Frank Worthington
Sunderland legend Gary Rowell has paid tribute to ex-Huddersfield, Leicester, Bolton and England striker Frank Worthington, who has died aged 72.
One of English football’s great mavericks, Worthington died peacefully in hospital on Monday evening following a long illness.
Worthington won eight England caps and represented over 20 clubs in a long playing career that began with Huddersfield in 1966.
He made 20 appearances and scored two goals for Sunderland between December 1982 and June 1993.
Sunderland tweeted: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of former player Frank Worthington.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
And club legend Rowell has also paid his tribute.
Rowell said, “We all loved him, Frank was one of the biggest names in the game.
"He always had a smile on his face and he loved his football and loved life.
"He was one of those guys you loved to be around because you knew you were going to have a good time.
"I’m shocked at the news and it’s very sad,” he told the club website.
Nick Pickering who also played with him at Sunderland added: “When Frank arrived the first thing he said to me was, ‘I’ve seen you play on the left wing. When you get the ball just play it in to my feet and get on your bike, I’ll find you and when I do just get your cross in.
“It’s really sad to hear about Frank. He was such a skilful player and a great lad who really loved his football.”
Worthington’s wife Carol paid tribute to the much-loved football showman, who died in hospital in Huddersfield.
“Frank brought joy to so many people throughout his career and in his private life,” Carol Worthington said.
“He will be greatly missed by everyone who loved him so much.”
Worthington’s daughter, Kim Malou, announced on Facebook in 2016 that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, but he issued a statement the following day denying that he had the condition.
Unashamedly non-establishment, Worthington hit the headlines as much for his off-field exploits as his rarefied talents on it.
Once described by former Huddersfield and Bolton manager Ian Greaves as “the working man’s George Best”, Worthington played in 22 consecutive Football League seasons from 1966, scoring 266 goals in 882 appearances in all competitions.
In 14 of those campaigns 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 Kenny Dalglish and Frank Stapleton.
Former Leicester, Tottenham and England striker Gary Lineker offered his condolences on Twitter following the death of his “boyhood hero”.
“Profoundly saddened to hear that Frank Worthington has died. He was my boyhood hero when he was at @LCFC,” Lineker posted on social media.
“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).”
Worthington’s former clubs were also quick to pay their respects on social media.