Trevor Francis, famed as Britain’s first £1 million player, has died. Aged 69 ,Francis represented Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Rangers, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday during his playing career. The Three Lions icon passed away at his home in Marbella on Monday morning having suffered a heart attack.
A statement from his family 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.”
Francis spent half a year in Spain and the rest in Solihull. He suffered a heart attack 11 years ago and had kept himself fit with daily power walks.
He had an annual health check through the League Managers’ Association and, according to his spokesman, was “enjoying life very much having eventually got over the death of his wife”. Helen passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer.
The ex-Birmingham City striker played 52 times for his country between 1977 and 1986. Francis joined Blues as a schoolboy and made his debut in 1970, aged just 16.
His goalscoring prowess was evident immediately, scoring 15 times in his debut season. In all, he would find the net on 133 occasions for Birmingham in 329 games across nine seasons.
Legendary Nottingham Forest boss Brian Clough made Francis Britain’s first £1million player in 1979, and he would help Forest to back-to-back European Cups, a feat never since matched by an English side, including scoring the winner in the first final against Malmo.
He left Forest for Manchester City in 1981 before spells in Italy with Sampdoria and Atalanta.
Francis returned to the UK in 1987 when he signed for Rangers, but spent just one season at Ibrox before departing for QPR where he became player-manager.
He then signed for Sheffield Wednesday and took over as boss following the departure of Ron Atkinson, leading the Owls to a third-placed finish in the top flight in 1992.
Francis then steered Wednesday to both cup finals the following season, where they were beaten twice by Arsenal. He hung up his boots in 1994 and was dismissed by the Hillsborough club a year later.
He then returned to St Andrew’s in 1996, spending five years as Blues boss including leading them to the League Cup final in 2001.
His final managerial appointment came at Crystal Palace, but he was sacked after a couple of seasons in charge.
Internationally, Francis scored 12 times in his 52 appearances for England, including strikes against Czechoslovakia and Kuwait in the 1982 World Cup.