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Celebrating the Life and Career of Gunners Hot-Shot Paul Mariner

 

 

Former Arsenal, Ipswich and England striker Paul Mariner passed away on 9th July 2021 at age 68, following a brief battle with a brain tumour. Mariner spent two-and-a-half seasons with the Gunners, acting as an aerial focal point for Don Howe’s Arsenal forward line.

Arsenal could do with a classic number nine right now, with the ability to compete and win physical duels all over the pitch. It’s that lack of desire in the final third that leaves Mikel Arteta’s men in 11th place in the Premier League table after eight games, and explains why they’ve drifted out to 11/2 with bet365 to finish in the top four in 2021/22. Gunners fans that believe this now represents value may wish to look at bet365’s recommended sign-up package, which includes up to £100 in free bet credits on all markets, including the Champions League qualification race in the Premier League.

Arsenal certainly needed a physical presence in attack during the 1983/84 season when Mariner signed on 9th February in a deal worth £150,000. It was a transfer fee seen as something of a cut-price deal given his exploits with Ipswich over the previous eight seasons.

Despite getting off to an encouraging start in Arsenal colours, scoring seven goals in his first 15 appearances in 1983/84, it was soon evident that Bobby Robson’s Ipswich had seen the best of his years as a top-tier striker. Although Tony Woodcock made way to the number ten role to accommodate Mariner for the second half of that season, the pair failed to really hit it off in the 1984/85 campaign, with Mariner only managing seven goals in 34 league appearances.

Injuries certainly took their toll on Mariner during his time at Highbury. Mariner suffered with an Achilles tendon issue for several years at Ipswich, which was finally operated on in the summer of 1982. However, when he joined the Gunners he started to have issues with his other Achilles tendon.

It got worse in one particular North London derby at White Hart Lane. Spurs defender Chris Hughton inadvertently raked his studs down the back of Mariner’s heel, cutting it open and causing more Achilles issues. Mariner knew it was the beginning of the end for him at the highest level.

Incoming Arsenal boss George Graham allowed Mariner to leave for Portsmouth on a free transfer. He would spend another two years playing on the south coast before embarking on a somewhat nomadic end to his playing days, spending time in Australia, the US, and latterly Malta for Naxxar Lions.

As a coach, Mariner became assistant for the Harvard University team before moving into the MLS as assistant to New England Revolution boss, Steve Nicol. Mariner got his big break in management as boss of Plymouth Argyle, where he started his professional playing career. He then spent time as director of player development and eventual head coach of Toronto FC, before being dismissed in January 2013.

Between 2009 and 2020, Mariner had worked with distinction as an analyst for ESPN, who broadcast a fitting tribute to the 68-year-old at the time of his passing. Paul Mariner – an England great that made a positive impact in football on both sides of the pond.

 

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