R.I.P. The Lion of Vienna

England Beat Austria (1952)

Nat Lofthouse.

How many times do you see a modern day goalkeeper fall over and get a foul just because someone looked at him? And how many times after such an incident do you find yourself thinking or saying “I wonder what Nat Lofthouse would make of that” or something along those lines.

One of those great names of the game, names everyone should be aware of even though he plied his trade well before most of our births, along with the likes of Mathews, Finney, Milburn, Mortensen, Wright, the superstars of that post-war pre-1966 era. Players we shouldn’t forget in these days of over priced prima donnas.

Shouldn’t of course just remember him for that challenge in the ’58 Cup Final on Harry Gregg that left the the United ‘keeper sparko in the back of the net along with the ball, as Lofthouse claimed his second of the game in Bolton’s 2-0 victory. Shoulder charges were legal back then, ref allowed it, even if Nat admitted it was a foul and Gregg held no animosity about it.

Nah the 452 appearances over 15 senior seasons at the one club, his home town Bolton, reaping 255 goals, along with his heroics in scoring 30 goals in only 33 appearances for England. That’s what should be remembered. The game that got him his title of “The Lion Of Vienna”, as the unofficial European championship between England and Austria where he was on the receiving end of some, even then, questionable challenges which ended up with him being carried off sparko this time, after scoring his second goal when during a run from his own half he was elbowed in the face, challenged from behind and taken out by the ‘keeper. He was all about goals and they wouldn’t stop him scoring the winner. He came back on the pitch, no subs back then, after shaking it off and even in his knackered state he apparently could have scored a couple more. Before he and the rest were carried off the park on the shoulders watching servicemen from the Dorsetshire Regiment.

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