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Trevor Francis: The story of Britain’s first £1m football transfer



Former Nottingham Forest footballer Trevor Francis has died aged 69, leaving behind a legacy of being Britain’s first £1million player.

Francis died on Tuesday in his home in Marbella in Spain from a suspected heart attack, and players past and present have since paid tribute to his legacy.

The striker won 52 caps for England, played in the 1982 World Cup, had spells in Italy and also managed clubs at the highest level.

However, he is best known for something that did not happen on the pitch.

Francis told the Guardian in 2019: “I won European Cups with Nottingham Forest, I played 52 times over nine years for England, but whenever I go to a sporting occasion I’m always introduced as the first £1m footballer, as if that’s the only thing I achieved in my career. But do I feel proud of being the first £1m player? Absolutely.”

Francis had already achieved legendary status with Birmingham City throughout the 1970s by scoring 133 goals for the club in 328 appearances.

But the West Midlands side was never likely to push for titles and Francis knew he needed to step up if he was going to win trophies.

He said during the period: “I want to be part of a successful team and unless I see signs that we are going somewhere I won’t stay.”

Nottingham Forest and Coventry entered a bidding war for his services. Coventry matched the offer but Francis went with Forest who were, at the time, in a better position to challenge Liverpool for the league title.

Legendary Nottingham manager Brian Clough turned up for his press conference wearing a full tracksuit and carrying his squash racket – claiming he was late for a game. The gaffer also said that Francis’s price tag was actually £999,999 – and not the full million – to stop the figure going to the striker’s head.

It turned out Clough was bluffing about the £999,999 and that £1.15million had actually been paid. “Brian was very clever with the media,” Francis said. “He used to make headlines, and wasn’t bothered whether they were true or not.”

However, it was still a huge surpassing of the previous record – which, a month earlier, had seen David Mills swap Middlesbrough for West Brom for £516,000.

Little did we know but the floodgates had opened on the market and the transfer record was broken twice more in 1979 before the first £1.5million transfer was made in 1981. The current transfer record is the £106million Chelsea paid for Enzo Fernandez in January.

Francis’s first match was for the team’s C string side as they played out “in front of 20 people” against Notts County’s reserves in a game purposed for training.

But it didn’t stop Francis from feeling nervous.

“The following week I played for the first team and it suddenly dawned on me, at Portman Road, when the supporters sang ‘What a waste of money’ throughout the game,” he said in 2009.

“I found myself trying to justify the £1million.

“You have to be yourself and play your own game. There was a pressure lifted when I got my first goal against Bolton.”

The goals did come, however, and at important times too – with Francis throwing himself at the ball to score a header against Malmo that won Forest the 1979 European Cup.

To this day a giant picture of Francis stooping to head the ball against Malmo remains on display inside Nottingham Forest’s stadium.

Forest lost another legend on Monday with Chris Bart Williams passing away aged 49.

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We have a modern sports administration in Lagos – Aiyepeku




Sports administration has moved beyond the outdated rhetoric that characterizes the Nigerian system and inevitably leaves the country behind when results do not match inputs.

However, things have become different in Lagos over time, especially since the administration of Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the helm of the Lagos State Sports Commission is ensuring that round pegs are put in round holes.

The duo of Mr. Sola Aiyepeku, Executive Chairman and Mr. Oluwatoyin Gafaar, Director General of the Sports Commission are goal scorers and technocrats in sports administration.

There has been synergy between the Sports Commission and other stakeholders, both in the public and private sectors in order to drive the THEMES agenda of Governor Sanwo-Olu.

Chairman Aiyepeku gave an insight into how sports is being run in the Centre of Excellence on Wednesday when he was the guest of over 300 journalists covering the ongoing 7th National Youth Games in Asaba, Delta State. The Youth Games has witnessed a high influx of sporting media since its inception at the Asaba 2023.

Aiyepeku told the journalists that he was ready for any jab of questions from the sportswriters, as he knows his onions when it comes to facing the inquisitiveness of sporting media as he was on media practitioner.

The session at the media centre of the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba was very entertaining, informative and educative as some of the journalists later confessed to Independent News Express.

Aiyepek took the time to explain to the journalists how sports are practiced in Lagos State. According to him, the administration lacks the old-fashioned style.

He stressed that as an administrator who has seen it all in the world of sport and traveled near and far, he knows that modern ways of working deliver results.

He revealed how the Sports Commission has integrated over 400 games masters and mistresses from educational districts in Lagos State into a modern school sports system by given them retraining at a recent workshop.

“It was a kind of revolution because we showed them the best sports practices. Not only have we equipped them to carry out their active-duty duties, but we have also equipped them with knowledge so that they can be useful to the society and their families after their service,” Aiyepeku said.

He also revealed what the state is doing to ensure that no sport is left behind.

“We value development, which essentially means giving everyone a sense of belonging. We have also managed to separate and classify these sports so we can focus on the results.

“We don’t necessarily want to win at all costs like other states do, but we want to advance the development agenda. According to us at the Lagos State Sports Commission, we are not desperate as we see these youth games as a talent scouting program,” he added.

He said that the Sports Commission also places a strong emphasis on development, as many of Lagos’ athletes benefit from some form of grant to help them prepare for and compete in tournaments without stress.

Aiyepeku stressed that Lagos is a breeding ground for athletes and will continue to be at the forefront of ensuring the comprehensive development of athletes.

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Sports Minister Excited About Young Talents Emerging From National Youth Games




The Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has expressed his delight over the number of emerging talents being discovered at the ongoing National Youth Games, taking place in Asaba, Delta State.

Senator Enoh stated that the Games stays true to its purpose of providing a platform for young talents to be unearthed.

He noted that talents are not in short supply in the country, what is needed is the platform for visibility. He stressed that the ministry is not oblivious of this need, and his administration is determined to make available these platforms across the federation.

“This edition of the National Youth Games has given visibility to very talented kids that represent the future of our sports as a nation. Availability of talents has never been a problem for our sports, but instead, the provision of platforms for these talents to be seen has remained our Achilles heel,” the Minister said. “This administration is committed to ensuring that platforms are available for budding stars, especially in our rural areas.”

“While our elite athletes continue to make us proud, we want to guarantee the future by creating a production pipeline for emerging talents to come through, transition, get nurtured and collect the baton when the time is right on the elite stage,” Senator Enoh concluded.

At the end of Day 6, Delta State remained top of the medals table with 36 Gold, 25 Silver and 23 Bronze medals. Lagos State sits second with 18 Gold, 12 Silver, and 15 Bronze medals, while Edo State occupies the third spot with 17 Gold, 12 Silver, and 13 Bronze medals.

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Lagos Cycling Gold Medalist Canvasses For Regular National Tourneys To Keep Athletes In Top Form




The need to have regular local competitions is necessary to keep the athletes, especially the young boys and girls, who are outstanding in the National Youth Games in their top form and busy out of social vices.

This was the submission of one of Team Lagos cyclists, Isiaka Ibraheem who won two medals at the Asaba 2023 Games.

Ibraheem, a student of Government Junior College, Ikoyi, Lagos won a gold medal in the Point Race on Thursday. He had earlier won a silver medal in the Individual Time Trial.

While Ibraheem was so excited winning the gold and silver medals for Team Lagos, he wanted the sports authorities at both the state and national levels to organise more competitions to keep the athletes busy as lack of regular competitions slow down the development of the athletes in their choosing sports.

“We cannot demand for more at this stage if not for any other thing but to keep the athletes busy and in good form. When there is no competition, the form of these athletes would definitely go down. I want to beg the Federal Government of Nigeria to channel resources into exposing athletes from the National Youth Games to more local and international competitions,” Ibraheem said.

He gave kudos for what the Lagos State Government is doing for sports in the state, adding that the officials in Lagos Sports know their job and they take the welfare of the athletes serious.

“We have good training before traveling down to Asaba and this is what helped most of us at the National Youth Games,” he said.

Head Cycling Coach in Lagos, Lukman Oyebola also corroborated Ibraheem that more competitions are needed to give these young athletes future in sports.

He said if there could attention for Ibraheem, who had proven beyond reasonable doubt to be a good cyclist, the country would be better for it in the nearest future.

“Ibraheem is just going to 14 and the potential in him is great. I have no doubt that he would win gold in Asaba because he performed very well in tournaments we went to in Ibadan and Ogun State recently,” Coach Oyebola said.

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