Prolific forward had a short spell with Naxxar Lions
Former England striker Paul Mariner, who played a pivotal role for Ipswich Town in their golden era winning the 1978 FA Cup and 1981 UEFA Cup, has died aged 68, his family announced on Saturday.
The 35-times capped Mariner — who scored in the first leg of Ipswich’s UEFA Cup victory over Dutch side AZ Alkmaar — had been battling brain cancer.
Mariner is fondly remembered by Maltese football fans for a short spell with Naxxar Lions in the late 1980s.
“We regretfully inform you that Paul passed away peacefully on July 9 surrounded by his family, after a brief battle with brain cancer,” his family said in a statement.
Ipswich — now in English football’s third tier League One — paid a handsome tribute to their former talisman.
“We are devastated to hear the news of the passing of Town legend Paul Mariner at the age of 68. The thoughts of everyone at #itfc are with Paul’s family and friends at this sad time,” the club said in a tweet.
Mariner scored 13 times for England—including in the opening 3-1 win over eventual finalists France in the 1982 World Cup finals.
“We’re sad to have learned that Paul Mariner, who made 35 appearances for the #ThreeLions , has passed away at the age of 68,” tweeted the England team.
“Mariner represented England between 1977 and 1985, scoring 13 goals. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his family, friends and former clubs.”
Mariner went on to play for amongst others Arsenal (1984-86) — the side that Ipswich had beaten in the 1978 FA Cup final.
Towards the end of his career, Mariner decided to play in Malta and he joined Naxxar Lions where he spent two seasons.
During his time in Malta, Mariner collected 49 appearances with Naxxar Lions, scoring 12 goals.
After hanging up his boots in 1993 he pursued a career in management including the first club he had played for Plymouth Argyle and then Toronto FC in Canada.
“Paul lived a full life and was fortunate enough to represent a group of fantastic football clubs as well as his country, all of which meant the world to him,” his family’s statement read.
“Anyone who knew Paul will attest to his fantastic sense of humour, his passion for life and for his work.
“He will be sorely missed by everyone who was ever around him and by those most close to him.”