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English Soccer’s Nat Lofthouse, ‘Lion of Vienna,’ Dies at Age 85

Ex-England soccer player Nat Lofthouse has died at the age of 85, his former club Bolton Wanderers said on its website.

“Nat died peacefully in his sleep at his nursing home in Bolton on Saturday night,” the team said.

Lofthouse, one of the outstanding English centre-forwards of the post-World War II era, spent his entire career at Bolton. He scored almost 300 league and cup goals in more than 500 appearances for the northwest England team over 14 years.

His physical power and aerial ability also helped him to get 30 goals in 33 games for England, and he earned the nickname “Lion of Vienna” after a two-goal performance in a 3-2 win over Austria in 1952.

“He was a leader, he had fantastic ability in the air, and he was strong, but he was also a talisman,” Lofthouse’s former England teammate Bobby Charlton told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek program. “You just put the ball in there at any height and he was so brave. He just scored phenomenal goals in the air. He was a great player without any question.”

In 1953, Lofthouse won England’s Footballer of the Year award. In the same year he captained Bolton to a 4-3 defeat to Blackpool in the F.A. Cup final as his national teammate Stanley Matthews starred for the opposition.

Five years later, Lofthouse scored twice in Bolton’s 2-0 F.A. Cup final win over Manchester United. The second goal came amid controversy as he shoulder-charged United goalkeeper Harry Gregg into the net.

After his playing career ended in 1960, Lofthouse served Bolton in a number of roles, including coach, caretaker manager and president. In 2006, he was voted Bolton’s greatest-ever player in a poll of fans.

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