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Paul Mariner, prolific England striker and Revolution coach, dies

Mr. Mariner, working out with Revolution players at Train Boston.
Mr. Mariner, working out with Revolution players at Train Boston.Kreiter, Suzanne Globe Staff

LONDON — Paul Mariner, a former England striker who played at the World Cup in 1982 and later coached in Major League Soccer, including as the top assistant for the New England Revolution for several seasons, died Friday. He was 68.

Mr. Mariner had brain cancer, his family said.

”My life changed forever when [head coach] Steve Nicol hired Paul Mariner to come work with the Revs,’' Taylor Twellman, the franchise’s leading all-time goal scorer, told ESPN after news of Mr. Mariner’s death was released. “I’m a better person because of him. He helped me enjoy the process more. I’m not even talking about soccer; I’m talking about life.’'


Both former players have been soccer analysts with ESPN; from 2014 to 2020, Mr. Mariner was also a color commentator on the Revolution’s television and radio broadcasts.

Mr. Mariner (left), with Revolution head coach Steve Nicol.
Mr. Mariner (left), with Revolution head coach Steve Nicol.Tlumacki, John Globe Staff

He was hired by Nicol in 2004 and served as his right-hand man until 2009, when he left to manage his former team, Plymouth, in England’s Second Division.

“Anyone would be foolish not to have Paul Mariner associated with them,’' said Jay Heaps in 2009, then a defender for New England who would later serve as head coach of the team. “He’s a great motivator, he’s a great technical director, in terms of how he trains and everything. Paul has the complete package.’'

He came to the states and helped coach at Harvard University and played on the Boston Bolts club team before joining the Revolution.

Before that, he was a creative, fearless, and prolific striker in England.

A native of Lancashire, he scored 139 goals in 339 games for Ipswich Town, helping the club win the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981. His other clubs included Arsenal and Portsmouth.

“When you think of an old-fashioned center forward, a lot of people think that means some square head who is just a nuisance,” Nicol told The Boston Globe when he hired Mr. Mariner, a club rival in England. “But Paul had all the attributes of a great striker, a great touch and understanding of the game.’'


Mr. Mariner scored 13 goals in 35 appearances for England, playing at the European Championship in 1980 and the World Cup two years later, where he scored against France. He tied the national team record set by Jimmy Greaves with a six-game scoring streak.”

Mr. Mariner (left) crashed to the ground after colliding with West Germany's Uli Stielike during a World Cup match in 1982.
Mr. Mariner (left) crashed to the ground after colliding with West Germany's Uli Stielike during a World Cup match in 1982. Associated Press

Mr. Mariner also served as head coach for the Toronto FC in the MLS.

“Paul lived a full life and was fortunate enough to represent a group of fantastic football clubs as well as his country, all of which meant the world to him,” his family said in a statement. “Anyone who knew Paul will attest to his fantastic sense of humour, his passion for life and for his work.’'

An animated presence on the sidelines, he was known for his strong support for his players and for his outsized personality.

Twellman said he will long remember his laugh.

”You could be sitting anywhere in the world and if you heard that laugh, everyone in the building would look around . . . . . and say ‘you know what, I’m kinda jealous, I kinda want to be at that table, because that guy seems to be having fun.’’