Paul Mariner, when he coached Toronto FC, reacts during their game against New England Revolution at BMO Field. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Former England international Paul Mariner, who starred for Ipswich Town and became one of the most influential assistant coaches in Major League Soccer with the New England Revolution, has died.
He was 68.
Mariner had battled brain cancer.
“We regretfully inform you that Paul passed away peacefully on July 9 surrounded by his family, after a brief battle with brain cancer,” a statement from Mariner’s family read. “We would like to thank all the people who came to see him through his illness for their support and for the messages that were sent to him, they meant a great deal to him and us.
“A special thank you must go to the NHS and the unbelievable care he received when he most needed it and for that we, as a family, will forever be in your debt. 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 humor, his passion for life and for his work. He will be sorely missed by everyone who was ever around him and by those most close to him.”
A message from the Mariner family. pic.twitter.com/MjVK1xXtuG
— Paul Mariner (@Paul_Mariner) July 10, 2021
ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman who played under Mariner with the Revs, also expressed his sorrow.
“It is with a heavy Red heart that I tell you @Paul_Mariner is no longer with us,” Twellman said on Twitter. “I feel so fortunate to call him a friend and most importantly knowing his pain is gone. RIP Paul!!! We love you.”
A legend in so many ways. When you ran into Paul, you were laughing within 10 seconds. I’ll miss seeing him and hearing him tell stories. RIP to a great, great man.
— Marc Connolly (@mconnolly10) July 10, 2021
Mariner forged his reputation as a center forward for several English clubs, including Ipswich Town, Plymouth Argyle, Arsenal and Portsmouth.
It was with Ipswich in which Mariner rose to prominence, scoring 139 times in 339 matches across all competitions. The team captured the 1978 FA Cup and the 1981 UEFA Cup.
His ability to put the ball into the net led Mariner to the English national team. He played 35 times for his country, scoring 13 goals. Mariner also competed at the 1982 World Cup.
A massive loss for all of us who had the privilege of knowing Paul. Anyone who ever interacted with him always had a good word to say. Your day was always brighter after spending time with Paul. 💙🤍❤️ https://t.co/W2zmReTkt6
— Brian Bilello (@RevsPrez) July 10, 2021
Mariner eventually journeyed to the United States, starting a long coaching career, first with the Albany Capitals in the American Professional Soccer League from 1989-92 and then with the San Francisco Bay Blackhawks from 1992-93.
After a year’s stint as Harvard University assistant coach in 2003, Mariner joined the Revs in 2004 and as the first lieutenant to Steve Nichol, help directed the club to three consecutive MLS Cup finals (from 2005-2007). New England did not win a championship but was a formidable side during that time.
He also coached Toronto FC in 2012-13.