Charlton leads tributes to Nat Lofthouse

Legend, leader and loyal are just three of the words employed to describe Nat Lofthouse following his death at the weekend. The 'Lion of Vienna', who scored a phenomenal tally of 30 goals in 33 appearances for England, passed away peacefully in his sleep at his nursing home.

Aside from being a robust, strong, powerful forward, Lofthouse will predominantly be remembered for being a one-club man, rare in this day and age given the liberal movement of players between clubs.

Lofthouse played for his hometown club Bolton between 1946 and 1960 before retiring from the game with a knee injury, playing more than 500 matches in which he scored 255 league goals and a further 30 in cup competitions. Reflecting on the man and player, close friend Sir Bobby Charlton said: "He was a leader, he had fantastic ability in the air, and he was strong, but he was also a talisman.

"I played four or five games with England at the end of his career and I felt he was the one who was in charge, he was the leader.

"I'm really sorry, and anybody in this part of the world will be very sorry, he isn't with us any more because he was a fantastic credit to the game."

He earned the sobriquet 'Lion of Vienna' following his performance in England's 3-2 win over Austria in 1952 when he scored the winner despite being elbowed in the face, tackled from behind and brought down by the goalkeeper.

The other match for which he was synonymous was the 1958 FA Cup final when he scored twice in Bolton's 2-0 victory over Manchester United, controversially barging 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 Sir Stanley Matthews whose time came before the 1966 World Cup success.

"You have to put him in with those two great players," added Charlton.

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