England has seen its share of legendary forwards, but few have matched the prowess and commitment of Tommy Lawton. Though his stint at Turf Moor was ephemeral, his journey that began at Burnley cemented him as one of England's greatest strikers.
Born on 6 October 1919 in Farnworth, Lawton's football journey was remarkable. Defying his physical impediment of flat feet, young Tommy showcased his undeniable knack for scoring, netting over 500 goals as a schoolboy in Bolton. Recognizing his talent, Burnley offered him a trial in 1935, and a year later, on his 17th birthday, he was awarded a professional contract.
Despite scoring 16 goals in 25 appearances for Burnley, Lawton's real success story started when Everton acquired him for a record £6,500, making him the costliest teenager at the time. The decision paid off handsomely for Everton, as Lawton became a cornerstone of their attacking lineup. Before World War II paused professional football, Lawton's record stood at an astounding 70 goals in 100 appearances, propelling Everton to a League Championship.
With the war's onset, Lawton's role shifted to that of a Physical Training Instructor in the Army. Yet, even amidst global turmoil, his passion for the game never waned. After the war, he joined Chelsea, scoring consistently. However, a disagreement with manager Billy Birrell led to a stunning transfer. Lawton's decision to join Third Division side Notts County for £20,000 was a shocker. But, as always, he let his feet do the talking, scoring 103 goals in 166 appearances.
Subsequent stints at Brentford and Arsenal, followed by managerial roles, further exemplified his deep connection with the sport. His England record was equally remarkable, boasting 22 goals in 23 games.
Sadly, the world bid adieu to this footballing legend in November 1996, when Tommy Lawton passed away at the age of 77 due to pneumonia. His legacy, however, lives on. In 2003, Lawton was fittingly inducted into the English Football Hall Of Fame. Today, his England shirt and ashes find a special place at the National Football Museum in Preston, serving as a testament to a striker par excellence and a man deeply in love with the beautiful game.