‘A top player and a top man’: Alan Brazil and Mick Mills pay tribute to Paul Mariner after former Ipswich and England striker dies aged 68 after battle with brain cancer
- Former England, Ipswich and Arsenal star has died of brain cancer, aged 68
- The former striker scored 139 goals in 339 games for Ipswich over eight years
- He won 35 caps for England, scoring 13 goals including a vital strike vs Hungary
England’s horizons were rather different when Paul Mariner scored the most important goal of his international career.
It was November 1981, Hungary were the visitors to Wembley and World Cup qualification was in the balance after the shock of losing the previous game in Norway.
England, having failed to reach the finals in 1974 or 1978, had to win and they staggered over the line on a night of high tension thanks to Mariner, who turned a wayward shot by Trevor Brooking into the net.
Former England and Ipswich centre forward Paul Mariner has died at the age of 68-years-old
The goal sparked a run of rich form, six goals in five consecutive games for his country.
He led the line in the World Cup and Ron Greenwood’s team returned home after the second group stage, unbeaten and having conceded only once.
Mariner, who died on Friday aged 68 after suffering brain cancer, scored 13 goals in 35 games for England.
He is perhaps best remembered as the swashbuckling centre forward in the wonderful Ipswich Town team who won the FA Cup and UEFA Cup under Bobby Robson.
The Englishman made 35 appearances for his country, scoring 13 goals, and won the UEFA Cup
Mariner’s family have confirmed that the 68-year-old died after a short battle with brain cancer
‘One of the great Ipswich players and a top, top guy,’ said former strike partner Alan Brazil on Sunday, as he recalled one of his finest goals, scored against Liverpool at Portman Road.
‘Liverpool defenders were backtracking as Mariner came flying in beyond the far post. He leapt way above everyone and absolutely smashed a bullet header into the far corner. The place erupted.’
It was a more typical Mariner finish than the famous goal against Hungary, epitomising the fearless spirit that made him such a popular team-mate.
‘Everyone adored him,’ said Mick Mills, his former captain for both Ipswich and England. ‘A massive, massive personality and a terrific player, everything about him was colossal.’
Mariner was born in Bolton and started out at Chorley Town before launching his professional career as a teenager at Plymouth Argyle, helping them win promotion to the old Division Two.
Robson moved him to Suffolk in 1976, in a deal worth £220,000 and he made his England debut within six months.
Mariner (right) helped guide Ipswich Town to UEFA Cup triumph after defeating AZ Alkmaar
He scored 135 goals in 339 games in eight years at Portman Road, where he remains a legend. ‘A superstar of a footballer and a superstar of a man,’ said Ipswich manager Paul Cook.
Mariner left Ipswich for Arsenal in February 1984.
He moved to Portsmouth two years later before moving to North America, where he made his home as a coach and TV pundit after his playing career.
He also returned to Plymouth as a coach and, briefly, manager from 2009 to 2010.
Mariner’s greatest moment in an England shirt came when he scored against Hungary in 1981
The 68-year-old took to coaching after his playing career and was the head coach at Toronto
Mariner made 60 appearances for Arsenal from 1984-1986 before signing for Portsmouth