Paul Mariner

Paul Mariner (22 May 1953 – 9 July 2021)[6] was an English football player and coach.

Paul Mariner
Paul Mariner 2010 (cropped).jpg
Mariner managing Plymouth Argyle in 2010
Personal information
Full name Paul Mariner[1]
Date of birth (1953-05-22)22 May 1953[1]
Place of birth Farnworth, England[2]
Date of death 9 July 2021(2021-07-09) (aged 68)
Position(s) Centre forward
Youth career
1971–1973 Chorley
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1973–1976 Plymouth Argyle 135 (56)
1976–1984 Ipswich Town 260 (96)
1984–1986 Arsenal 60 (14)
1986–1988 Portsmouth 56 (9)
1988 Wollongong City[3][4] 2 (0)
1989–1992 Albany Capitals[5] 17 (1)
1992–1993 San Francisco Bay Blackhawks[5] 10 (0)
Total 555 (179)
National team
1977–1985 England 35 (13)
Teams managed
2003 Harvard Crimson (assistant)
2004–2009 New England Revolution (assistant)
2009–2010 Plymouth Argyle
2012–2013 Toronto FC
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

A centre forward during his playing days, Mariner began his career with Chorley. He became a professional player in 1973 with Plymouth Argyle, where he scored 61 goals in 155 appearances and is considered to have been one of the club's best ever players. He joined Ipswich Town in 1976, where he achieved domestic and European success under the guidance of Bobby Robson. He was called up to play for the England national team during his time at Portman Road, and went on to represent his country at the 1980 European Championships and the 1982 World Cup. In total, Mariner played 35 times for England, scoring 13 goals. He spent two years with Arsenal and then Portsmouth before finishing his career abroad. He played for clubs in Australia, the US, and Malta.

He took up coaching during his time with Albany Capitals and focused on it fully when he retired from playing. After spending time working in Japan, he returned to America to coach, firstly in Arizona and then at Harvard University. He joined Major League Soccer club New England Revolution in 2004 as a member of Steve Nicol's coaching staff. After five years in Massachusetts, Mariner returned to Plymouth Argyle in 2009 as their head coach. He succeeded Paul Sturrock as the club's manager two months later before returning to his role as head coach upon the arrival of Peter Reid. In January 2011, he returned to Major League Soccer as director of player development at Toronto FC.

Mariner was the color commentator for New England Revolution of MLS. Starting in 2020, he commentated for some of the Revolution games, and shared the duty with Charlie Davies.

Playing careerEdit


Mariner during his time with Ipswich Town

Mariner started his career as an amateur player at non-league club Chorley, close to his Lancashire roots and his style at the helm of their attack caught the attention of Plymouth Argyle, for whom he signed in 1973.[7]

So began an impressive scoring record with the Devon club, with 56 goals in 135 appearances coming before Bobby Robson, who had been personally monitoring Mariner's progress, took him to Ipswich Town for a club record £220,000[8] with John Peddelty and Terry Austin moving in the opposite direction as part of the deal. Mariner chose Ipswich ahead of similar offers from West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.[9]

Mariner made his debut in September 1976[10] and quickly settled into the Ipswich side as an old-fashioned number 9 – i.e., a forward capable of taking hard tackles and rough treatment from defenders but willing to give it back, while also scoring a fair share of goals. Received wisdom suggests that Mariner was only a 'target-man'-type centre forward but he scored plenty of goals with his feet and had the skill to create his own chances on the deck, rather than relying entirely on service through the centre and via the flanks.[11]

Such was Mariner's impact that six months after joining Ipswich, he made his England debut as a substitute in a 5–0 win over Luxembourg at Wembley and played from the beginning in the following game against Northern Ireland in the British Home Championship at Windsor Park, Belfast.[7] He impressed in both games, though did not score and was not selected for the next six matches. During this period, Ipswich finished third in the First Division, with Mariner contributing ten goals from 28 games.[7]

Mariner's third England cap came in the return World Cup qualifier in Luxembourg, scoring a last-minute goal in a 2–0 win.[7] By now, Mariner had become one of a number of 'target man'-type centre forwards for England coach Ron Greenwood to select from, with Stuart Pearson and Bob Latchford also on the scene. It was Mariner, however, who would be selected the majority of the time.[12]

At club level, Mariner was having a mixed time. He scored 11 goals for Ipswich, but the team underperformed in the First Division and finished 18th. However, they reached the FA Cup final at Wembley where they memorably beat Arsenal 1–0. Mariner hit the goal-frame with one chance.[7]

Greenwood did not select Mariner for England throughout 1979, although Mariner had his most productive spell for Ipswich that season, scoring 13 goals in 33 matches. It was not until 1980 that he won a sixth England cap – almost exactly two years after his fifth – and he scored England's goal in a surprising 4–1 defeat against Wales at Wrexham. He stayed in the reckoning thereafter, scoring in a 2–1 win over Australia in Sydney in the final game before England took to the field for the 1980 European Championships. Mariner was named in Greenwood's squad for the tournament, despite not playing during the whole qualifying campaign.[7]

He did not play in the opening 1–1 draw versus Belgium in Turin but came on as a substitute in the remaining two group matches – a defeat against Italy and a victory over Spain, which ensured England's elimination from the competition.[13]


Mariner maintained his England place as his Ipswich goalscoring record continued to improve – 17 from 41 games had come in 1980 and Ipswich made the early running as the next season got underway. England began their qualifying campaign for the 1982 World Cup with a conclusive 4–0 win over Norway, with Mariner scoring a superb goal with a deft turn and shot from 25 yards. He was, however, left out of the next game, which turned into a gruesome 2–1 defeat against Romania in Bucharest. Greenwood put him back in the side a month later for a now vital match against Switzerland, and Mariner scored the opener in a 2–1 win.[14]

Ipswich were challenging for three trophies as the 1981 season approached its climax, with Mariner again to the fore, scoring 13 times in 36 matches. However, they were to miss out on two domestic fronts, with Aston Villa winning the First Division (after Ipswich failed to beat Middlesbrough) and Manchester City defeating Ipswich in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. But in the UEFA Cup, Mariner was proving to be a real hero as glory beckoned.[15]

He scored twice in the early rounds as Ipswich progressed to an attractive quarter final against St Étienne. In the first leg in France Mariner put two away as Ipswich went 4–1 up, and added another as Ipswich completed the task in the second leg. After winning the semi-final, Mariner scored again in the first leg of the final against AZ Alkmaar as Ipswich coasted to a 3–0 lead, ultimately winning the competition 5–4 on aggregate. Weeks later, Greenwood put him back in the England side as the World Cup qualification campaign resumed with a defeat in Switzerland, a vital victory in Hungary and a shock defeat in Norway. It appeared that they might miss out on the World Cup finals for an unthinkable third tournament in a row, but results elsewhere went their way, meaning England only needed to draw with the already qualified Hungary at Wembley in the final game to guarantee qualification. It was Mariner who scored the only goal in a 1–0 win, though he got it after a stumble which saw him score via a deflection rather than an actual shot on goal.

Injuries to both Achilles tendons restricted Mariner's football over the next few months, and he only scored eight times in 25 games for Ipswich. But in the five final England warm-up matches prior to the World Cup in Spain, he scored four times, including a stunning solo run and strike against the Netherlands at Wembley. He was named in Greenwood's squad and started the first match of the tournament, against France.

England went into a 2–1 lead thanks to a brace from Bryan Robson – the first of which was one of the World Cup Finals' quickest-ever goals – before Mariner slammed home a close-range volley to complete an impressive 3–1 win. It was his eleventh international goal in his 22nd match – an admirable ratio of one goal every other game. It was his also his sixth consecutive scoring game for England – a feat previously achieved only by Jimmy Greaves.

Greenwood selected Mariner for the rest of the tournament but he didn't score again and England went out in the second phase after two disappointing goalless draws. Mariner is best remembered for dragging a devastated Kevin Keegan to his feet in support after the England captain, on as a substitute after a tournament ruined by injury problems, sank to his knees, head in hands, having just missed an open goal with a header which would have given England the lead in their goalless final game against Spain. (As England needed to better West Germany's earlier 2-1 victory against Spain, a goal at this point would still have been insufficient in isolation to send England into the semi-finals.)

Mariner's club boss Robson subsequently became England coach and he continued to select him as the qualification campaign for the 1984 European Football Championship got underway. Mariner continued to score frequently for Ipswich, whose young and vibrant side had started to age and break up.

England's qualification campaign faltered, though Mariner scored in consecutive pool matches against Hungary and Luxembourg – the latter of which would prove to be his 13th and final England goal. By the time he next played for England, he was an Arsenal player, with the Gunners taking him from Ipswich in February 1984 for £150,000. By now Mariner was in his thirties but he still initially performed well for Arsenal, scoring seven times in the final fifteen games of the season. But age was starting to get the better of him; and he scored only nine goals in 41 games in 1984–85.

Mariner won two more England caps but Mark Hateley, a tall and skilful young striker in the Mariner mould, was a candidate for his position and Gary Lineker and Peter Beardsley were also establishing themselves as international strikers.

Hateley came on as a substitute for Mariner in a friendly victory over East Germany in September 1984, before Mariner picked up his 35th and final cap in a goalless draw against Romania in May 1985, a qualifier for the 1986 World Cup. He had scored 13 times for England – the first goal coming on 12 October 1977 in a 2–0 win over Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier. His last goal for England came on 16 November 1983, also against Luxembourg, but this time in a European Championship qualifier.[16]

However, with Hateley in the ascendancy and Mariner regularly sidelined at Highbury during the 1985–1986 season, Robson opted not to select him for the England squad which qualified for Mexico 1986.

Meanwhile, at his club Mariner was rarely on the field, only playing nine times in 1985–86, including one match as an emergency centre half. In the summer of 1986 Arsenal's new manager George Graham gave Mariner a free transfer; in all he played 80 times for Arsenal, scoring 17 goals. He signed for Portsmouth, where he spent two seasons. In May 1989, he signed with the Albany Capitals of the American Soccer League.[17]


In 1990-91 Paul Mariner played for Naxxar Lions, Malta. Mariner returned to the Capitals in 1991 as the team now played in the American Professional Soccer League, formed by the merger of the American Soccer League and Western Soccer League. He played three seasons with the Capitals, where he was named to the league's Best XI in 1990.[18][19][20][21] During his three seasons in Albany, Mariner also served as an assistant coach. In the spring of 1992, the Capitals' owner offered him the position of head coach but when he heard a rumour that the team was about to collapse, he accepted a position as a player-assistant coach with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks. He accepted that position and soon after the Capitals announced they were ceasing operations. In the early 1990s Paul made two appearances for Byhams Dairy, a Sunday League team in Sudbury Suffolk.[22]

Coaching careerEdit

Early careerEdit

After retiring, Mariner worked as a football pundit for BBC Radio Lancashire for their Friday-night Non-League Hour[23] before setting up a management company for footballers. After a spell back in England coaching at Bolton School,[24] he returned to the States to coach youth football at S.C. Del Sol in Phoenix, Arizona.[citation needed] In 2003, he became an assistant coach at Harvard University.[25][26] In 2004, he was hired by the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer as assistant coach to former Liverpool and Scotland defender Steve Nicol.[27]

Plymouth ArgyleEdit

Speculation about his future was rife in October 2009 when he was linked with a coaching position at one of his former clubs, Plymouth Argyle, abetted by his visit to Devon to promote the city's 2018 World Cup bid and his subsequent resignation on 17 October. It was announced the following day, 18 October 2009, that he was to become the new head coach of Plymouth Argyle, with Paul Sturrock staying on as team manager.[28]

On 10 December 2009, Mariner replaced Sturrock as manager of Plymouth Argyle, following a run of poor form which left the Pilgrims second bottom in the Championship.[29] He was unable to keep Plymouth up, however, and they were relegated from the Football league Championship after a six-year stay, on 19 April 2010.[30]

On 6 May 2010, it was announced that Plymouth were to look for a new manager, however Mariner would remain as a member of the coaching staff.[31] Mariner's tenure as manager ended when Peter Reid was hired on 24 June 2010.[32] Mariner stepped down from his role at Home Park on 30 December 2010 to pursue another opportunity.[33] "I have known Paul for a long time and working with him has been fantastic," said Argyle manager Peter Reid. "I'm sure he will be successful in everything he does in the future. He's a great personality and someone who is a legend with the fans at this football club."[34]

Toronto FCEdit

Mariner was named Director of Player Development for Toronto FC on 6 January 2011, joining new head coach Aron Winter at the club.[35] After starting the season with 9 straight losses, Winter stepped down as Toronto named Mariner as the new head coach on 7 June 2012.[36] Mariner recorded his first victory as Toronto manager on 27 June against Montreal Impact, the game ended in a 3–0 away win.[37] The club rebounded briefly under the new coach, but after "a dismal 0-10-4 run in league play" to end the 2012 season,[26] Mariner was dismissed on 7 January 2013.[38] Mariner was praised by former Toronto FC players Andrew Wiedeman[39] and Eric Hassli.[40]

Broadcasting careerEdit

After his playing days ended in 1993, Mariner worked briefly as a commentator with BBC Radio Lancashire.[25] In 2014, after his brief coaching stint in Toronto, Mariner returned to the New England Revolution as a broadcaster, providing color commentary for the team's television and radio broadcasts for six full seasons.[27] He has also worked as an analyst for ESPN broadcasts between 2009 and 2020.[41]

Personal lifeEdit

Mariner was born in Farnworth, near Bolton on 22 May 1953,[1][2] the son of James Mariner, a crane driver, and Margaret Catherine Mariner, née Turnbull,[42] and was baptised two months later at St Catherine's Church in Horwich on 19 July 1953.[42] He lived with his parents in Autumn Street, Horwich,[42] and went to Horwich County Secondary School (now the lower school of Rivington and Blackrod High School).[6] He married Alison Roscoe in Plymouth, Devon in 1976,[43][44] and they had three sons, but their marriage ended in divorce.[6]


On 9 July 2021, Mariner died of brain cancer, at the age of 68.[45]

Career statisticsEdit

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Plymouth Argyle 1973–74 Third Division 41 14 3 2 6 1 0 0 50 17
1974–75 Third Division 45 20 3 1 2 0 0 0 50 21
1975–76 Second Division 38 15 2 0 2 1 0 0 42 16
1976–77 Second Division 10 7 0 0 2 0 0 0 12 7
Total 134 56 8 3 12 2 0 0 154 61
Ipswich Town 1976–77 First Division 28 10 3 3 0 0 0 0 31 13
1977–78 First Division 37 11 7 7 1 1 6 3 53 22
1978–79 First Division 33 13 5 3 1 0 5 1 44 17
1979–80 First Division 41 17 3 3 2 0 4 2 50 22
1980–81 First Division 36 13 7 3 4 4 11 6 58 26
1981–82 First Division 25 8 2 0 5 1 1 0 33 9
1982–83 First Division 37 13 3 0 1 0 1 0 37 13
1983–84 First Division 23 12 1 0 4 2 0 0 28 14
Total 260 97 31 19 18 8 28 12 337 136
Arsenal 1983–84 First Division 15 7 0 0 0 0 0 0 15 7
1984–85 First Division 36 7 3 2 2 0 0 0 41 9
1985–86 First Division 9 0 3 0 2 1 0 0 14 1
Total 60 14 6 2 4 1 0 0 70 17
Career total 454 167 45 24 34 11 28 12 561 214

Other includes the UEFA Cup, UEFA Cup Winner's Cup, and FA Charity Shield.[46][47][48][49]

Managerial statisticsEdit

As of 7 January 2013
Managerial record by team and tenure
Team From To Record Ref
P W D L Win %
Plymouth Argyle 10 December 2009 24 June 2010 29 7 6 16 024.1 [32][50]
Toronto FC 7 June 2012 7 January 2013 28 6 8 14 021.4 [36][38][51]
Total 57 13 14 30 022.8


As a playerEdit

Plymouth Argyle

Ipswich Town



  1. ^ a b c "Paul Mariner". Barry Hugman's Footballers. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Birth Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 10 July 2021. Births Registered: June 1953, Surname: Mariner, Given Name: Paul, Mother's Maiden name: Turnbull, District: Farnworth, Volume: 10c, Page: 248
  3. ^ Howe, Andrew (9 May 1988). "1988 season – round 14 results". Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  4. ^ Howe, Andrew (9 May 1988). "1988 season – round 15 results". Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Paul Mariner – profile". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Mason, Peter (11 July 2021). "Paul Mariner obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Sparks, Gordon (29 November 2017). "Green Barmy: How Paul Mariner became one of the Plymouth Argyle greats". Plymouth Herald. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  8. ^ "1976/77 step back in time", Ipswich Town F.C. v Sheffield United F.C. programme, p. 21, 22 November 2003
  9. ^ Knight, Brian (1989). Plymouth Argyle: A Complete Record 1903–1989. Derby: Breedon Books. pp. 157–158. ISBN 0-907969-40-2.
  10. ^ "Paul Mariner". Sporting Heroes. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Paul Mariner: Former Ipswich and England striker dies aged 68". BBC Sport. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  12. ^ "All England national football team players". 11v11. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Paul Mariner » Internationals". Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  14. ^ "England: the road to Spain 1982". England Football online. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  15. ^ "Ipswich Town football club match record: 1981". 11v11. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Paul Mariner - English Caps 1977-85 - England".
  17. ^ "CAPITALS WILL PUT BOLTS TO THE TEST" The Boston Globe – Saturday, 27 May 1989
  18. ^ 1990 Albany Capitals
  19. ^ 1989 Albany Capitals
  20. ^ "The Year in American Soccer – 1990". Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  21. ^ 1991 Albany Capitals
  22. ^ "The Player". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 29 June 2009.
  23. ^[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ Culley, Jon (22 October 2011). "WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Paul Mariner". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  25. ^ a b Mason, Peter (11 July 2021). "Paul Mariner obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  26. ^ a b Davidson, Neil (10 July 2021). "From soccer pitch to sidelines, Paul Mariner left powerful impression". The Canadian Press / CBC Sports. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  27. ^ a b Reed, Russ (11 July 2021). "Former New England Revolution coach, commentator dies of brain cancer". WCVB. Retrieved 12 July 2021. Mariner finished his playing career in the United States and then joined the professional coaching ranks with the Revolution in 2004, when he was hired to serve as an assistant under Steve Nicol.... Mariner rejoined the Revolution in 2014 as a color commentator for the team's television and radio broadcasts and served in that role for six full seasons alongside play-by-play announcer Brad Feldman. He split television color commentary duties with former New England forward Charlie Davies in 2020.
  28. ^ "Mariner set for Plymouth return". BBC Sport. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  29. ^ "Mariner in for Sturrock at Argyle". BBC News. 10 December 2009.
  30. ^ "Mariner wants to stay at Plymouth". BBC Sport. 20 April 2010.
  31. ^ "Plymouth Argyle to look for new manager". BBC Sport. 6 May 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  32. ^ a b "Peter Reid appointed manager of Plymouth Argyle". BBC Sport. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  33. ^ "Paul Mariner leaves cash-strapped Plymouth Argyle". BBC. 30 December 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  34. ^ "Peter Ridsdale in to save club as Paul Mariner walks away from Home Park" Archived 11 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine. The Plymouth Herald. 31 December 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  35. ^ "New management team announced". Toronto FC. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  36. ^ a b Girard, Daniel (7 June 2012). "Aron Winter out as Toronto FC head coach, replaced by Paul Mariner". The Star. Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  37. ^ "Recap: Rampant Toronto throttle Impact 3–0 in Montreal". 27 June 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
  38. ^ a b "Toronto FC fires coach Paul Mariner, replaced by Ryan Nelsen". Toronto Star. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2013.
  39. ^ Vujcic, Djuradj (22 December 2014). "Andrew Wiedeman RedNation Online Interview". Red Nation Online. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  40. ^ Vujcic, Djuradj (29 May 2015). "Eric Hassli RedNation Online Interview". Red Nation Online. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  41. ^ Nwulu, Mac (10 July 2021). "ESPN Remembers Paul Mariner". ESPN Front Row. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  42. ^ a b c The Parish Records of St Catherine's Church, Horwich, Lancashire, from 1896. Horwich Heritage. The CD contains transcriptions, in PDF file format, of baptism and marriage records.
  43. ^ "Marriage Index: Paul Mariner, 1976". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  44. ^ "Marriage Index: Alison Roscoe, 1976". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  45. ^ "Paul Mariner dies aged 68". Sky Sports. 10 July 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  46. ^ GoS: Paul Mariner
  47. ^ Ipswich Town: Season's Gone by Archived 3 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ Paul Mariner: Sporting Heroes
  49. ^ Gunnermania: Paul Mariner Archived 8 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  50. ^ "Managers: Paul Mariner". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  51. ^ "Toronto FC: Matches". Soccerway. Perform Group. Retrieved 2 April 2017.
  52. ^ Lynch. The Official P.F.A. Footballers Heroes. p. 143.
  53. ^ King, Elvin (9 April 2011). "Sir Alf Ramsey inducted into Ipswich Town Hall of Fame". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 21 March 2014.

External linksEdit