England great Lofthouse dies at 85

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Former England football international Nat Lofthouse OBE has died aged 85, his club Bolton Wanderers have announced.

Lofthouse made more than 450 appearances for the Trotters, scoring 255 goals for the club between 1946 and 1960.

He also represented England 33 times and scored 30 goals.

Bolton announced Lofthouse had died peacefully in his sleep at his nursing home on Saturday night.

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside said: "On behalf of everyone at Bolton Wanderers Football Club, I would like to extend our deepest condolences to Nat's family, who are very much in our thoughts at this time.

"Nat undoubtedly is a Bolton Wanderers legend. He was a one-club man and our football club meant as much to him as he did to us."

He continued: "We will miss him but we will celebrate his life, his legacy and great times that he brought to Bolton Wanderers."

After finishing playing, Lofthouse remained at the club in a number of off-field positions including chief coach, chief scout, caretaker manager and club president, in which he remained until his death.

Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, described Lofthouse as "a true legend" and pointed to his loyalty as a one-club man.

Mr Clarke said: "What is very rare these days is to have a one-club footballer at the top like he was, playing for Bolton for the whole of his career, scoring a fantastic number of goals both for them and for England.

"A true legend of the game undoubtedly."

Lofthouse was one of the most feared centre-forwards of his generation, renowned for his strength and finishing ability on the ground and in the air.

He became known as the Lion of Vienna after a goalscoring, match-winning - and pain-defying - performance in England's 3-2 win over a fearsome Austria side in 1952.

Lofthouse opened the scoring but was then subjected to some tough tackling throughout the rest of the game. He played on and was knocked unconscious in the process of netting the late winner.

The other game he became synonymous with was the 1958 FA Cup final, when he scored twice in Bolton's 2-0 victory over Manchester United.

Lofthouse controversially barged United goalkeeper Harry Gregg into the net in the process of scoring one of his goals.

He belonged to a golden generation of England players along with the likes of Sir Tom Finney and the late Sir Stanley Matthews whose time came before the 1966 World Cup success.

Lofthouse retired in 1960 after a serious knee injury.

He played at Bolton throughout his career after signing for his hometown club at the age of 14.

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