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Famous Like Me > Footballer > F > Trevor Francis

Profile of Trevor Francis on Famous Like Me

Name: Trevor Francis  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 19th April 1954
Place of Birth:
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Trevor Francis (born Plymouth, England, April 19, 1954) was a noted footballer who is in the English game's history books as the first one million pound player.

Francis, a nippy and skilful forward, joined Birmingham City as a schoolboy but was quickly into the first team, making his debut in 1970, aged just 16. His talent was noted when, before his 17th birthday, he scored four goals in one game. He ended his first season with 15 goals from just 22 games.

Birmingham City were an average side in the 1970s, reaching the odd domestic semi-final but never making great shakes in the First Division championship, so the ability and achievements of Francis were made more notable as a result.

In 1977 he scored one of Birmingham's most famous goals, when he turned away from the touchline and cut inside four QPR defenders, constantly being forced backwards, before suddenly unleashing a 25 yard shot which caught the goalkeeper off guard. In the same year, he was given his first England cap by Don Revie. England were beaten 2-0 by Holland.

Francis negotiated a secondment from Birmingham in 1978 to play for the Detroit Express in the fledgling NASL in 1978, before returning home to the Midlands. However, in February 1979 came the moment which would define his career and leave his name permanently in football folklore.

Nottingham Forest, the reigning League champions and League Cup holders managed by Brian Clough, put in a bid for Francis which totalled just over one million pounds. No player had ever been sold between English clubs for a seven-figure fee before, and the deal was sealed, with Francis famously being introduced to the media by a manager impatient to play squash - Clough was in his white gym kit and carrying a racquet as he took the press conference.

Forest retained the League Cup shortly afterwards though Francis was ineligible, and made progress in the European Cup to the extent that they reached the semi-finals, at which point Francis was permitted by registration rules to take part. They won their semi-final, and in May 1979 Forest took on Swedish side Malmö in the final in Munich, and a major instalment of the huge investment money was repaid just before half time.

The ball was spread to Forest's lugubrious but skilful winger John Robertson wide on the left and he took on two defenders at once to reach the byline and curl an awkward, outswinging cross towards the far post. Francis was sprinting into position but even he had to up the pace to reach the cross as it dropped, and ended up throwing himself low at the ball. He connected with his head and the ball diverted powerfully into the roof of the net. Forest won the match 1-0 and the goal was used in the opening titles to Match of the Day for years afterwards. A giant picture of Francis stooping to head the ball remains on display in the main entrance and reception area of Forest's stadium. Even though the season ended there, Francis duly headed back to Detroit for another summer playing in the NASL.

Francis never fully got into the groove as a Forest player. He was in the side which lost the League Cup final to Wolves in 1980 but then retained the European Cup against Hamburg SV, yet somehow his Forest career never took off in the way such a huge fee would demand. He scored 14 goals that season and just six the next. Although still a regular for England (though he wasn't in the squad for the 1980 European Championships because of injury), his club football was not hitting heights.

He was sold to Manchester City in 1981 (again for a million pounds - the fee was now commonplace after the initial purchase opened the floodgates) where he scored 12 goals in 26 games and made the squad for the 1982 World Cup in Spain. He duly managed goals in the group games against Czechoslovakia and Kuwait but when England needed goals in the second group phase, he and the other strikers hit a barren spell. England went out after two goalless draws.

Later that summer, Francis was courted by Italian giants Sampdoria, who paid Manchester City 700,000 pounds for his services. He won the Coppa Italia in 1985 before joining Atalanta for 800,000 pounds where he played plenty of games but only managed one goal. In 1986, he made his 52nd and final appearance for England in a victory over Scotland. He had scored eleven goals.

Francis returned to Britain in 1987 and joined Rangers F.C. under Graeme Souness, as part of his self-styled "English invasion" at Ibrox. Francis cost just 75,000 pounds and won the Scottish Cup in 1988 before moving to London to become player-manager of QPR.

Though still an outstanding player with QPR, Francis was blasted for his management style, with players claiming he was too strict a disciplinarian - he once famously tried to ban one of his players from attending the birth of his first child because QPR were due to play an important game. The player went to his wife's side anyway and Francis fined and publicly slammed the player, which earned him enormous criticism.

Francis left QPR in 1990 to play for Sheffield Wednesday, winning the League Cup in 1991 as a non-playing substitute, prior to promotion back to the top flight. He later took over as manager after the departure of Ron Atkinson and guided Wednesday to an excellent third placed finish in 1992. The following year, Wednesday reached the FA Cup and League Cup finals, losing both to Arsenal, the former after a replay. In 1994, Francis finally retired as a player.

After leaving Wednesday, Francis spent time working as a television pundit (something which he had done throughout his career and at which he excelled) before going back to his spiritual home of Birmingham City as manager in 1996, aiming to get them back into the top flight. They continued to reach the play-offs but failed to get promotion. They also lost a League Cup final in 2001 to Liverpool. Francis left later that year.

He had a short spell in charge of Crystal Palace, the only notable moment of which was when he smacked his reserve goalkeeper Aleks Kolinko after the player had laughed when Palace conceded a goal.

Francis, who is married to childhood sweetheart Helen, is now working once again as a pundit.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Trevor Francis