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Ipswich Town legend Paul Mariner dies aged 68

Ipswich Town Football Club has paid tribute to legend Paul Mariner who has died aged 68.

Paul, who was a key player in one of the most successful sides in the club's history, died yesterday surrounded by his family after a brief battle with brain cancer.

Having began his career at Plymouth Argyle, Paul moved to Ipswich in 1976.

He was part of Sir Bobby Robson's FA Cup winning side of 1978 and went on to lift the 1981 UEFA Cup with Blues.

He made his international bow for England in 1977 and went on to win 35 caps, leading the line for England in the 1982 World Cup finals.

His family said: "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.

"Anyone who knew Paul will attest to his fantastic sense of humour, his passion for life and for his work."

Paul departed Town for Arsenal in 1984 and also played for Portsmouth, Wollongong City, Albany Capitals and San Francisco Bay before hanging up his playing boots in 1993.

He later managed former side Plymouth as well as Toronto FC.

Paul was inducted into the Ipswich Town Hall of Fame in 2011 and in total scored 135 goals for Blues in 339 appearances.

Mark Ashton, Town CEO, said: “It’s incredibly sad news and the thoughts of everyone at the Club are with Paul's family and friends at this very difficult time."

Former team-mate John Wark, who lives near Stowmarket, admitted even though he knew the day was coming, it is hard to take in.

“I have seen Paul over recent weeks and it’s been hard and then when the news came through, it’s tough to take,” Wark told the club website.

“Obviously my thoughts are with his family and what they are going through and it’s difficult to talk about it at the moment.

“He was my best mate. As a footballer he was unbelievable. He came into the club and made a difference immediately.

“He could hold the ball up, scores goals. He’d take all the knocks for us. He made us a better team - and he helped me so much as well.

“As a person, he was even better than he was as a player and that is saying something. Bobby [Robson] put us together as room-mates and it just went boom from there.

“He was so bubbly. He was the loud one in the dressing-room, the one that got everyone going. The boys loved him, we all did.

“He called me his ‘brother’. That’s how close we were and we stayed in touch, even when he went to America. I can’t speak highly enough of him as a footballer but even more so as a person.”

Town will wear black armbands at this afternoon’s opening pre-season fixture at Dartford (1pm) as a mark of respect.

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