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Bolton paid its respects today during the funeral of one of England's greatest-ever footballers.

Centre forward Nat Lofthouse, who played 452 games for Bolton Wanderers between 1946 and 1960, scoring 255 goals, died on 15th January aged 85 at a Bolton care home.

His beloved Bolton Wanderers, his hometown team, was the only club he played for in his illustrious career, although he did play 33 times for England, scoring 30 goals, one of the best-ever England goalscoring records.

Thousands of Boltonians lined the streets this afternoon as the funeral cortege passed through the centre of Bolton, a large town just 10 miles from Manchester, following his 12.30pm funeral at the parish church on Churchgate. Over 500 guests attended the funeral in the church, but thousands gathered outside the church and were able to listen to the service thanks to loudpeakers.

Amongst those carrying Lofthouse's coffin were Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle, Bolton Wanderers captain and centre forward Kevin Davies and Wigan Athletic owner Dave Whelan.

During the service, eulogies were offered by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, a boyhood Bolton fan and former Wanderers player.

Amongst the great names of the footballing world attending the funeral were Sir Tom Finney, who played for Preston North End and England at the same time that Lofthouse played, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Fulham manager and former Manchester United player Mark Hughes and former Manchester United star Sir Bobby Charlton, who won the World Cup with England in 1966 and is on the Manchester Utd board of directors.

Kevin Davies, who has scored 61 goals in 271 appearances for Bolton Wanderers since 2003 and, like Lofthouse was, a centre forward, said: 'I can't compare myself to someone like him. I have seen clips of him as a player and from living in the town and speaking to people he was an absolutely amazing footballer.

'He was an amazing person as well. He had a lot of time for people at the club and in the town and we'll miss him.'

After the service, a guard of honour was formed by surviving members of Bolton's 1958 FA Cup Final team, whom Lofthouse captained to a 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Wembley, scoring both goals himself. The funeral cortege then made its way through the centre of the town as thousands lined the streets giving a huge round of applause as it passed by.

Lofthouse, who was a Bevin Boy during the War, also scored for Bolton in the 1953 FA Cup Final against Blackpool, but Bolton lost 4-3 in what is arguably the most famous of all FA Cup Finals, known to this day as the Matthews Final thanks to the wondrous play of Blackpool's great Stanley Matthews.

During his playing days, Lofthouse earned the nickname Lion of Vienna after he scored his second goal against Austria in 1952, then the best team in Europe, despite being elbowed in the face, tackled from behind, and finally brought down by the Austrian goalkeeper in a 3-2 victory for England. He was also stretchered off unconscious during the match but game back on to carry on playing not long after. That was in the days that footballers were real men, unlike the cissy footballers who fall over at the slightest gust of wind today.

On Monday night, Bolton captain Kevin Davies and Chelsea captain John Terry laid wreaths in honour of Lofthouse just before the Premier League game at Bolton's Reebok Stadium and a minute's silence was held before kick-off. Bolton lost 4-0 against the champions. Ironically, it was Chelsea who Nat Lofthouse made his Bolton debut against, scoring twice in a 4-3 defeat in 1946.

Football pays its respects at funeral for late Bolton and England legend Nat Lofthouse

By Sportsmail Repo rter
26th January 2011
Daily Mail



Nat Lofthouse

27th August 1925 - 15th January 2011



Legend: Lofthouse

Bolton came to a standstill as thousands turned out to pay their last respects to the town's greatest footballer, England legend Nat Lofthouse.

The renowned Wanderers centre forward, known as the 'Lion of Vienna', died on January 15 at the age of 85.

His funeral service at Bolton Parish Church was attended by more than 500 invited guests as well as members of the public.


Leading the way: Bolton boss Owen Coyle joins the pallbearers carrying the coffin of legend Nat Lofthouse during the memorial service at the Bolton Parish Church

Speakers were also erected so that thousands more could listen and pay tribute to a man who scored 255 goals in 452 league appearances for his hometown club and 30 in 33 games for England.

Eulogies were offered by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside and Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor, a boyhood Bolton fan and former Wanderers player.

Current Trotters captain Kevin Davies and manager Owen Coyle were among the men who carried the coffin along with Wigan owner Dave Whelan, a contemporary player.


Paying their respects: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was joined at the service by Fulham boss Mark Hughes, who played under Ferguson at United, Sir Trevor Brooking, ex-Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale and former Aston Villa owner Doug Ellis

Davies, also a centre forward, said: 'I can't compare myself to someone like him. I have seen clips of him as a player and from living in the town and speaking to people he was an absolutely amazing footballer.

'He was an amazing person as well. He had a lot of time for people at the club and in the town and we'll miss him.'

After the service the funeral cortege travelled through town to huge applause before going on to a private committal.

Many prominent figures from the footballing world were in attendance including Sir Tom Finney, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton.


Mark of respect: Chelsea captain John Terry (left) and Bolton Wanderers captain Kevin Davies present wreaths in memory of Nat Lofthouse at the Reebok Stadium on Monday night

A guard of honour was formed by surviving members of the 1958 FA Cup final team, whom Lofthouse captained to a 2-0 victory over Manchester United at Wembley, scoring both goals himself.

Lofthouse also led the team in defeat at Wembley in 1953.

Other former Bolton managers to attend included Jimmy Armfield, Bruce Rioch, Colin Todd and Sam Allardyce.

Armfield said: 'He was probably one of the best centre forwards England every had, very aggressive and combative with great speed.

'He was everything a centre forward should be and was a great one-club man. The two words Lofthouse and Bolton go together. This is a great send-off for him - he'd have liked it, I'm sure.'


Legend and a leader: Bolton Wanderers captain Nat Lofthouse lifts the FA Cup for his team after inspiring them to a 2-0 victory in the FA Cup Final in 1958. He scored both the goals against a Manchester United team still in mourning after the Munich Air Disaster. To this date, it remains the last time that Bolton Wanderers have won the world's oldest and most famous domestic football trophy.

dailymail.co.uk
Last edited by Blackleaf; Jan 26th, 2011 at 01:51 PM..