Football legends turn out for Nat Lofthouse funeral

Bolton came to a standstill this afternoon 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.

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.

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.

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."

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