Remember Trevor Francis for what he achieved, not what might have been | Jonathan Wilson

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Technically gifted forward did not meet early expectations, but who could have? Injuries set him back but he was a fine player

In December 1978, the 24‑year‑old Trevor Francis shambled on to the stage to receive the Midland Football Writers’ Player of the Year award from Brian Clough. Although never a fastidious dresser himself, Clough looked him up and down and told him off for having his hands in his pockets. Francis, then at Birmingham City, was one of the most hyped players in English football at the time, but he meekly withdrew his hands and muttered: “Yes, sir.” Two months later, Clough made him the first million-pound British footballer by signing him for Nottingham Forest.

Perhaps after a youth as gilded as Francis’s had been, making his debut for Birmingham at the age of 16 and scoring 15 goals in his first 22 games, perhaps after setting a landmark fee, it was impossible for him to live up to expectations. Perhaps the expectations were never realistic. Francis had a perfectly decent career. He won two European Cups (although he played in only one final). He won league cups in Scotland and England, as well as a Coppa Italia. He played 52 times for England, scoring a dozen goals. But there was a sense that he did not quite achieve the heights that seemed possible in that season of his debut. But then who could have?

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Written by Jonathan Wilson
This news first appeared on under the title “Remember Trevor Francis for what he achieved, not what might have been | Jonathan Wilson”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.