By Spy Uganda
Former England international striker Paul Mariner, who scored at the 1982 World Cup and had a short playing stint in Australia, has died at the age of 68.
His family released a statement saying Mariner had “passed away peacefully after a brief battle with brain cancer”.
“We would like to thank all the people who came to see him through his illness for their support and the messages that were sent to him; they meant a great deal to him and us,” the statement said.
Mariner played three seasons with Arsenal but is perhaps best remembered for his eight years at Ipswich Town.
He won the 1981 UEFA Cup at Ipswich, having lifted the FA Cup in the 1977-78 season under his future England manager Bobby Robson.
A brave and physically imposing forward, Mariner scored 135 goals in 339 games for the club, having begun his professional career with unfashionable Plymouth Argyle.
He scored for Ipswich in the first leg of a 5-4 aggregate win over AZ Alkmaar in the UEFA Cup final.
For England, he netted 13 times in 35 matches, including the final goal in a memorable 3-1 victory over France at Bilbao in the opening Group 4 game of the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
But he did not score again in the tournament as the Three Lions were eliminated in the second group stage.
Mariner also played in the 1980 European Championship, where England failed to advance from a group that included Italy, whom they face in Sunday’s 2020 Euro final at Wembley Stadium.
Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton, a teammate from the 1982 World Cup, led the tributes on Twitter, calling Mariner “a great gentleman and a terrific player”.
Mariner played briefly with the Wollongong Wolves in the 1988 National Soccer League season, appearing in two matches as a guest player without scoring.
Wollongong were minor premiers after finishing top of the table but lost in the 1988 preliminary final to eventual champions Marconi Fairfield.
Mariner finished his playing career with four seasons in the US, with Albany Capitals and San Francisco Bay between 1989 and 1993, before turning his hand to coaching and TV commentary.
At the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer (MLS), Mariner was assistant coach to former Liverpool and Scotland defender Steve Nicol.
The pair would later work together as football pundits at Connecticut-based international broadcaster, ESPN.
He returned to the MLS as head coach of Toronto FC in 2012, having previously served as the club’s director of player development.
But he was sacked just eight months later after Toronto finished a disappointing 10th in their conference.
Mariner died in the UK “surrounded by family” after “unbelievable care” from the country’s NHS (national health service), according to the statement.
His death comes as England prepare for their first major final in 55 years since winning the 1966 World Cup, also at Wembley Stadium, after a 4-2 victory over West Germany.