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Nat Lofthouse


English centre-forward, nicknamed the 'Lion of Vienna', who was a star with Bolton Wanderers and England during the 1950s.  Lofthouse was an old-style number nine: ‘A battering ram,' as he once described himself. Tom Finney was far more generous, listing his attributes as ‘speed, fearlessness, a hard shot in either foot, good heading ability, and a robust frame to stand up to all the physical stuff'.

Born in Bolton, in 1925, Lofthouse joined his home town club in September 1939.  He quickly made an name for himself as a courageous striker while still rising at four a.m. and working an eight-hour shift in the mines.  Although the start of his League career was delayed by the outbreak of the Second World War, the conflict that shaped him as a player. ‘It toughened me up, physically and mentally,' Lofthouse recalled. Too young for military service, he worked in a coal mine, pushing tubs of coal, building his strength and fitness.

Lofthouse made his debut for England in November 1950 and would go on to play 33 games for his country.  He earned the title 'Lion of Vienna' by scoring twice in England’s 3-2 victory over Austria in May 1952. 

 In 1953, he was named English Footballer of the Year.  That same year he achieved the unusual feat of scoring twice in an FA Cup Final, the legendary Matthews' Final, and yet finishing on the losing side.  Three years later,  Lofthouse broke Steve Bloomer’s  49-year-old England goalscoring record by netting his 29th goal in a 5-1 win against Final in Hellsinki.  

By 1958 Lofthouse, now nearing the end of his career, captained Bolton to victory over Manchester United in the FA Cup Final and scored the last of his 30 goals for England.  The second of the two goals he scored in the FA Cup Final remains one of the most controversial in the history of the competition.  Lofthouse went into a challenge with the United keeper Gregg and barged him into the net to score.

He retired as a player in 1960 due to injury with a career total; of 285 goals in 485 matches.  He later managed the club for a few years, and then in 1986 accepted the post of club president. Greatly admired by subsequent generations of footballers he received an OBE in January 1997 and Bolton named their East Stand at their new Reebok Stadium after him.