Britain’s first million-pound footballer, Trevor Francis, has died aged 69 after suffering a heart attack in Spain.
Francis had spells in the North with both Manchester City, for whom he played from 1981-82, and Sheffield Wednesday, whom he joined in 1990 and became player manager a year later, staying with the club as manager until 1995 after retiring from playing in 1994. Perhaps most famously in Sheffield, Francis led the team to both the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1993, only to lose both to Arsenal.
Despite spending several years plying his trade in the North, Francis actually achieved his £1m move in the Midlands, moving from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest for the fee in 1979. Forest manager Brian Clough would later insist that the fee was actually £999,999, however, so it could be debated that his record-breaking fee was actually achieved with his £1.2m move to City two years later, although Francis himself insisted Clough’s claim was one of the characterful manager’s many gags.
Francis won two European Cups with Forest, in 1979 when he scored the winner against Malmo, and 1980. Francis also won 52 England caps and scored 12 international goals.
Francis was also one of the first English players to enjoy a successful career in Europe, spending five years in Italy with Sampdoria and Atalanta from 1982-87.
More recently, Francis became a familiar sight on TV screens after hanging up his boots, with regular appearances as a pundit on both Sky Sports and BT Sport.
A statement released on behalf of his family said: “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 the 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 and an annual health check through the League Managers’ Association, according to a spokesperson.