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Birmingham City and Nottingham Forest legend who was the first £1m footballer dies aged 69

Trevor Francis, the former Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest striker and England international renowned for being the first £1m player in British football, has died at the age of 69 after suffering a heart attack in his Marbella apartment.

A statement from his family read: “Trevor Francis has died at the age of 69. He had a heart attack at his apartment in Spain this morning. On behalf of the family, 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 began his playing career with Birmingham where he scored 133 goals in 329 appearances which earned him his record-breaking move to Forest in 1979.

During his time at the City Ground, Francis twice won the European Cup in back-to-back seasons under Brian Clough, and was the match-winner in the first of those successes, a 1-0 victory over Malmo in 1979.

Francis went on to represent Manchester City, Sampdoria, Atalanta, Rangers, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday, and spent time on loan in the USA with Detroit Express and in Australia with Wollongong City.

He also played 52 times for England between 1977-1986, scoring 12 goals. Francis was selected in Ron Greenwood’s squad for the 1982 World Cup where he scored in matches against Czechoslovakia and Kuwait.

Francis during his time with Sampdoria in Italy (Photo: Getty)

Francis later moved into management, taking in spells with QPR, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham and Crystal Palace.

Under his stewardship, Wednesday reached both the FA and League Cup finals in 1993 but they were defeated on both occasions by Arsenal.

He suffered the same fate in 2001 when Birmingham were beaten on penalties by Liverpool in the 2001 League Cup final.

A number of ex-teammates and former clubs have paid tribute to Francis following his passing.

Gary Lineker tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear that Trevor Francis has died. A wonderful footballer and lovely man. Was a pleasure to work alongside him both on the pitch and on the telly. RIP Trevor.”

Viv Anderson wrote: “Just heard the unbelievable news regarding Trevor Francis, he was such a wonderful person and fabulous teammate he will be sadly missed, my condolences go to his family and friends RIP.”

Nottingham Forest tweeted: “Nottingham Forest is deeply saddened to learn the passing of two-time European Cup winner, Trevor Francis. A true Forest legend who will never be forgotten.”

Chris Kamara, who worked alongside Francis on Sky Sports, tweeted: “Oh no, just heard Trevor Francis has passed away. What a player he was and what a gentleman. Got to know him well when Trevor was doing his co commentary’s [sic] for Sky a job he loved. RIP Trevor the first million pound player who always looked a million dollars.”

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