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Frank Worthington: Highlights From an Entertainer 

Frank Worthington, the great football entertainer passed away aged 72. We look back at just some of the great memories he gave us.
IMAGO / PA Images Leicester City v Manchester City - Premier League - King Power Stadium A minutes applause for Frank Worthington is observed before the Premier League match at The King Power Stadium, Leicester. Issue date: Saturday April 3, 2021.

On March 22, 2021, football lost another of its great entertainers. Former Bolton Wanderers, Huddersfield Town and Leicester City legend Frank Worthington sadly passed away.

Worthington was a showman with the skill to back it up. He also had an eye for a wonder goal. Today we look back at just some of the memories that Worthington leaves behind and will be forever remembered amongst football fans. 

Frank Worthington: A Look Back at One of Footballs Finest 

Wonder Goal

Frank Worthington will be remembered for many things, however, his wonder goal for Bolton Wanderers will undoubtedly go down as his best goal and also one of the best goals by any player ever. During the 1978/79 season, Worthington had his best campaign in front of goal and would go on to win the golden boot for the most goals scored in the season. It is one goal, however, that stands head and shoulders above the rest and displayed the type of skill he was capable of.

Playing Ipswich Town in April 1979 at Bolton’s home of Burnden Park, Worthington produced a moment of genius. Controlling the ball first with his head on the edge of the penalty area and with his back to goal he calmly juggled the ball with his feet before flicking the ball over his head and those of the defenders before calmly volleying the ball into the net.

High Blood Pressure Halts Liverpool Move 

During his time at his first, and home town, club Huddersfield Town, bigger clubs were taking notice of this talented forward. In 1972, one of those clubs and perhaps the biggest in Liverpool came calling. A fee of £150,000 was agreed upon. The gifted striker, sadly for all concerned, failed his medical due to high blood pressure. The cause was due to the recent death of his father.

The then-Liverpool manager, the great Bill Shankly, was determined to get his man. He promptly sent Worthington off to Majorca for a holiday to relax for a week. A huge mistake on the part of the Liverpool legend. Due to an abundance of alcohol and his liking of women, he did very little in the way of relaxing.

Upon his return to England, Worthington returned to Liverpool for a second medical. Only to fail it once again. His blood pressure was higher than when he left. The Liverpool dream was dead, although Frank Worthington being Frank Worthington will have taken it all in his stride, not giving it a second thought.

Making an Impression on Sir Alf Ramsey 

In 1972, Worthington’s form began to catch the eye of England manager Alf Ramsey. Called up to the England U23 squad, Ramsey met Worthington at Heathrow airport along with the rest of the squad ahead of a summer tour. Worthington turned up at the airport in high-heeled cowboy boots, a red silk shirt and a lime velvet jacket. It prompted a shocked Ramsey to let fly an expletive. Worthington would later say: “I suppose I’ve always been a bit of a peacock. It didn’t really matter whether people accepted me or not.”

Only eight England caps would follow, all in 1974.

22 Consecutive Seasons in the Football League 

From 1966 to 1987, Worthington played 882 games in all competitions scoring 266 goals. His final season completed a remarkable 22 consecutive seasons in the Football League. 14 of those were in England’s top-flight, including the season in which he won the Golden Boot, beating the likes of Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish to the award. In total, he scored 150 goals in England’s top tier. Between 1985 and 1987 he was also the player-manager of Tranmere Rovers

Entertainer on the Field, Playboy Off It

Frank Worthington’s greatness on the field was almost equalled by his antics off the pitch. Described as the workingman’s George Best by his former manager Ian Greaves, Worthington was more than capable of keeping up with anything Best could do. His attempts to sign for Liverpool are well documented as are some of his other ways of relaxing away from football. Alcohol was a major pastime, as was dating the likes of Miss Great Britain and the iconic sex symbol Raquel Welch. Stories surrounding Worthington’s playboy lifestyle are easy to find especially in his autobiography “One Hump or Two”.

Frank Worthington In His Own Words

Frank Worthington was an Elvis Presley fanatic and would ask if fans would want their programmes signed by himself or the “King” of rock ‘n’ roll. He was one of football’s great mavericks and entertainers, thrilling fans at the many clubs he played for and those he played against. Not short of a quote for reporters, here is a look back at just a few.

When asked in a Q&A to name his toughest opponent, he replied: “My ex-wife”

“I admit I used to get about a bit, but I am quieter these days. Instead of going out seven nights a week, I keep it to six.

“It’s a wonderful way to make a living. I still think it’s a game to be enjoyed, a game where the individual can express himself and entertain the public.

“People say I’ve squandered fortunes — booze, gambling and women. Well, as my old mate Stan Bowles said, it’s a lot better than wasting it.

“The Seventies were absolutely the best time for any football player, not just for football, but for the life and for the music industry, the things that were going on around us. They were absolutely fantastic.

“I have no complaints about my life and my career so far and no regrets, apart from one thing. If only I had taken things a little easier early on, I would have gone to Liverpool and the sky would have been the limit, but I have never made excuses for anything because that is a weakness. I have always known what I was about and where I was going.

Frank Worthington: 1948 – 2021.

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