Reflecting on the historic moment when Brian Clough recruited Trevor Francis, Britain’s inaugural £1m player
Former England striker, Trevor Francis, has passed away at the age of 69 due to a heart attack while in Spain.
In a landmark move in 1979, he became the first British footballer to be transferred for £1m, going from Birmingham City to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest.
Francis was instrumental in securing two European Cups for Forest – once in 1979, scoring the decisive goal against Malmo, and again in 1980.
Earning 52 caps for England, he netted 12 goals before transitioning into a managerial role.
On behalf of his family, a statement was released expressing their shock and grief. It read: “This has taken everyone by surprise. We are all deeply saddened. He was not only a football legend, but also a genuinely good-hearted individual.”
Francis split his time between Spain and Solihull. Despite a heart attack 11 years ago, he maintained his health with daily vigorous walks.
He had routine health checks through the League Managers’ Association and was said to be relishing life, as per his representative.
Francis was predeceased by his wife Helen in 2017, following her cancer diagnosis. They had been married since 1974 and had two sons, Matthew and James.
Francis, a Plymouth native, joined Birmingham as a schoolboy and was the Blues’ youngest debutant in 1970 at age 16 – a record surpassed only by current England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham in August 2019.
During his career, Francis scored 119 goals in 280 league appearances before his monumental switch to join forces with Clough at Nottingham Forest.
After contributing to Forest’s two European Cup victories, he played for Manchester City and Italian clubs Sampdoria and Atalanta.
He had a stint in Scotland with Rangers before joining QPR as player-manager.
His managerial role was reprised at Sheffield Wednesday, leading them to the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1993, although they were defeated by Arsenal in both.
Francis hung up his boots in 1994, just before turning 40, leaving behind a legacy of 632 appearances and 235 goals.
In 1996, he returned to Birmingham as manager and led the Blues to the 2001 League Cup final, where they narrowly lost to Liverpool in a penalty shootout.
His last managerial role was with Crystal Palace, where he served for two years. He also contributed as a media pundit with Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Trevor Francis was a two-time European Cup winner with Nottingham Forest
‘An Eternal Titan of the Club’
Fond eulogies poured in from Francis’s former clubs, teammates, and media colleagues.
Nottingham Forest expressed their deep sorrow, calling Francis “an unforgettable Forest legend”. Birmingham City referred to him as “an eternal titan of the club” and “the player everyone aspired to watch”.
Sheffield Wednesday also expressed their grief, conveying their condolences to Francis’s family and friends during this incredibly challenging period.
Sampdoria extended their simple condolence message of “Rest in peace, Trevor Francis” while Rangers expressed their sorrow over his demise.
The Football Association tweeted: “We are profoundly saddened by the news of Trevor Francis’s passing at the age of 69. He represented the Three Lions with 52 caps and 12 goals, including two in the 1982 World Cup, between 1977 and 1986. Our thoughts are with his loved ones and former clubs.” The EFL referred to Francis as “one of the best that English football has ever witnessed”.
Tributes from individual colleagues and teammates also poured in, highlighting Francis’s kind, humble, and supportive nature, as well as his legendary status in the football world.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Trevor Francis Death
What is Trevor Francis known for?
Trevor Francis is known as Britain’s first £1m footballer and a former England forward. He had a distinguished career both as a player and a manager, having played for clubs like Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, and Manchester City. He won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest and also had a successful managerial career, including a stint with Birmingham City.
How old was Trevor Francis when he died?
Trevor Francis passed away at the age of 69.
What was the cause of Trevor Francis’s death?
Trevor Francis died due to a heart attack while in Spain.
Which teams did Trevor Francis play for?
Trevor Francis played for several teams, including Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City, Sampdoria, Atalanta, and QPR. He also had a stint in Scotland with Rangers.
Did Trevor Francis have a managerial career?
Yes, Trevor Francis had a successful managerial career. He managed Sheffield Wednesday, leading them to both the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1993. He later managed Birmingham City and took the team to the 2001 League Cup final. His final managerial post was at Crystal Palace.
Who survived Trevor Francis?
Trevor Francis is survived by his two sons, Matthew and James. His wife Helen predeceased him in 2017.