Ex-England player Francis dies aged 69

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Former England forward Trevor Francis has died aged 69 after suffering a heart attack in Spain.

In 1979 he became Britain’s first £1m footballer on completing a transfer from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest.

He won two European Cups with Forest – in 1979, when he scored the winner against Malmo, and 1980.

Francis also won 52 England caps, scoring 12 goals, before embarking on a managerial career.

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.

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 being diagnosed with cancer.

Born in Plymouth, Francis joined Birmingham as a schoolboy and was the Blues’ then-youngest debutant in 1970 aged 16 – a record only beaten by current England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude Bellingham in August 2019.

Francis went on to score 119 goals in 280 league appearances before his history-making switch to link up with Brian Clough.

After Forest’s two European Cup wins, he joined Manchester City before spells with Italian clubs Sampdoria and Atalanta.

A season in Scotland with Rangers followed before he joined Queens Park Rangers, where he also became player-manager.

He later performed a similar role at Sheffield Wednesday and helped lead them to both the FA Cup and League Cup finals in 1993, losing both to Arsenal.

He formally retired as a player in 1994, shortly before his 40th birthday, having made 632 appearances and scored 235 goals.

He then returned to Birmingham as manager between 1996 and 2001 and guided the Blues to the 2001 League Cup final where they lost to Liverpool on penalties.

After leaving St Andrews, his final managerial post was at Crystal Palace where he spent two years.

He also worked as a media pundit with both Sky Sports and BT Sport.

More to follow.

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