Charlton leads tributes to Lofthouse, the brave 'Lion of Vienna'

Sir Bobby Charlton led the tributes to Nat Lofthouse, who died on Saturday. The former Bolton Wanderers centre-forward, who scored 30 goals in 33 England games, was described by Charlton as "a great player, without any question".

Lofthouse and Charlton's England careers briefly overlapped in 1958 and they both scored in a 5-0 win in a friendly with the Soviet Union at Wembley that year. That was Lofthouse's final international goal, and since his retirement only Charlton, Gary Lineker, Jimmy Greaves and Michael Owen have scored more goals for England.

"He was a leader," said Charlton. "He had fantastic ability in the air and he was strong. He was a talisman. I played about four or five games with him with England at the end of his career and I felt that he was the one that was in charge. I know a lot of people in the game of football will be very, very sad today about Nat Lofthouse, who was a great player without any question.

"You just put the ball in there at any height and he was so brave. He scored phenomenal goals in the air. In those days, if you were a centre-forward, you had to do more than score goals. You had to lead. You had to be tough."

It was Lofthouse's bravery that led to his being nicknamed "the Lion of Vienna", after his performance in the famous 3-2 win over Austria in 1952. Lofthouse scored twice, and was carried off injured but returned to the pitch. The later England manager Sir Alf Ramsey said: "The way he insisted on coming back on lifted the heart of every Englishman in the stadium. It made us redouble our efforts to keep the Austrians out."

Lofthouse's entire club career was spent at Bolton Wanderers, for whom he scored 255 League goals in 452 appearances.

Bolton's chairman, Phil Gartside, said: "He was a one-club man and our football club meant as much to him as he did to us." Lofthouse scored both goals in Bolton's FA Cup final win over Manchester United in 1958, the second controversially as he pushed goalkeeper Harry Gregg into the net.

Don Howe, another England team-mate, said of Lofthouse: "He was not only a great player, he was a great character."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat