Long-tenured MLS assistant coach Paul Mariner, whose playing and coaching career spanned three continents and many levels of the game, died Friday at 68 years old. Mariner, who as a player earned 35 caps for the England national team, was a prolific striker for Plymouth Argyle and Ipswich Town.
A statement released on social media from Mariner’s family explained that the former player and coach passed after a battle with brain cancer.
“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,” the Mariner family’s note stated.
“Anyone who knew Paul will attest to his fantastic sense of humour, his passion for life and for his work.”
A message from the Mariner family. pic.twitter.com/MjVK1xXtuG
— Paul Mariner (@Paul_Mariner) July 10, 2021
Mariner served on Steve Nicol’s coaching staff at the New England Revolution in the club’s most prosperous period. The Taylor Twellman-led Revs progressed to three straight MLS Cup finals from 2005-07 and lost in each of them. Mariner was an assistant for the Revs from 2004 to 2009.
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) July 10, 2021
Mariner continued working with the Revolution in retirement, contributing to the Revs’ television broadcasts as a color commentator.
After a short tenure managing Plymouth Argyle in 2009, Mariner joined Toronto FC as its director of player development. But Mariner was thrust back onto the sideline soon after. When the club fired Aron Winter in 2012, Mariner took over as TFC’s coach until January 2013.
Then-TFC player Andrew Wiedeman praised Mariner’s leadership during the tumultuous time at the club.
“Paul is an awesome guy,” Wiedeman said in an interview with RedNation. “He wears his heart on his sleeve and just wants the best for everyone around him. He instills confidence in all of his players and will stand up for them – to a fault. He’s the definition of a player’s coach. He’s somebody you want to go to war with.”
Mariner’s playing career included stints with Arsenal and Portsmouth. The center forward is in Ipswich Town’s Hall of Fame after making 260 appearances and scoring 96 goals. He had a brief playing stint in Australia and later played for the Albany Capitals and San Francisco Bays.
His 20-year playing career also included 35 England caps from 1977 to 1985 and played a major part for the Three Lions in the 1982 World Cup.