128. Nat Lofthouse
Nathaniel Lofthouse, OBE (born 27 August 1925), better known as Nat Lofthouse, played for Bolton Wanderers for his whole career. He was capped 33 times for the England national football team between 1950 and 1958, scoring 30 goals and giving himself one of the greatest goals-per-game ratios of any player to represent England at the highest level.
Born in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1925, Lofthouse joined the town’s main club on 4 September 1939 and made his debut in a wartime 5-1 win against Bury on 22 March 1941 when he scored two goals. It was then more than five years until he made his league debut for the club, but he eventually played against Chelsea on 31 August 1946, when he scored twice in a 4-3 defeat. Lofthouse would go on to play 33 games for England but his debut on 22 November 1950 made him 25 when he finally broke into the team. He perhaps justified a claim to an earlier call-up by scoring both goals in a 2-2 draw against Yugoslavia at Highbury on his debut.
On 25 May 1952, Lofthouse earned the title ‘Lion of Vienna’ by scoring twice in England’s 3-2 victory over Austria. Back from national team duty, he then scored six goals in a game between the English Football League and the Irish League on 24 September 1952. In 1953, he was declared English Footballer of the Year and on 2 May that year, he scored a goal – but was on the losing side – in the famous FA Cup Final of 1953 (aka ‘The Matthews Final’), having previously scored in each round. That season he topped the First Division goalscoring charts with 30 goals. On 22 October 1958, Lofthouse broke Vivian Woodward’s 47-year-old England goalscoring record by netting his 30th goal in a 5-0 win against the Soviet Union in London.
On 3 May 1958, almost five years to the day after losing the 1953 final, Lofthouse captained Bolton in the 1958 FA Cup Final against Manchester United, who three months earlier had been involved in the Munich air disaster. Against a national wave of sympathy for United, Bolton won the game 2-0 with Lofthouse scoring two goals, the second of which was highly controversial and remains a talking point to this day. Lofthouse went into a challenge with the United keeper Harry Gregg and barged him into the net to score as shoulder charging the goalkeeper was a legitimate tactic at the time. On 26 November 1958, Lofthouse made his final England appearance, against Wales, at the age of 33, and he officially retired from the game in January 1960 because of an ankle injury, although his final league game wasn’t until 17 December of that year, when he suffered a knee injury against Birmingham. Lofthouse stands 7th in the all-time top division goalscorers in England.
After retiring from playing football, Lofthouse became the assistant trainer at Burnden Park on 10 July 1961 and was then appointed chief coach at the club in 1967. In 1968, he spent a brief time as caretaker manager of the club and took over the job full-time on 18 December. Before becoming Bolton’s chief scout, he became an administrative manager at Burnden. In 1978, he became the club’s executive manager. In 1985, at the age of 60, Lofthouse became caretaker manager at the club again and became president in 1986.
Nat Lofthouse died on 15th January 2011.