Paul Mariner, the former Ipswich Town and England National Team player, and ESPN FC contributor, passed away in England on Friday night at the age of 68 after a brief battle with cancer.
Mariner was a recurring analyst on the daily ESPN soccer news, analysis and highlights program for more than a decade. ESPN.com obituary
Mariner began appearing on ESPN FC in 2009 after spending four years as an assistant coach with Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution under then-head coach Steve Nicol, a fellow ESPN FC studio analyst.
He also was a color commentator for several international matches on ESPN and ESPN International, including working alongside play-by-play commentator Mark Donaldson during the UEFA European Football Championship 2016.
Before ESPN, Mariner had a successful career as a professional player and coach.
He starred at Ipswich Town under legendary football manager Sir Bobby Robson, where he helped lead the team through its most successful era – winning the FA Cup in 1978 and the UEFA Cup in 1981. He played for the England National Team from 1977-1985, including appearances in UEFA European Football Championship 1980 and 1982 FIFA World Cup.
“Paul had a big heart, and a knack to draw you into his circle of friendship once he met you. We all mourn the passing of a good man, a beloved friend, and a valued member of the ESPN FC family,” said Vice President, International and ESPN Deportes Production, Rodolfo Martinez. “We send our condolences and thoughts to his family and fans.”
Mariner was beloved by his colleagues at ESPN, his former teammates, fellow coaches and fans. He last appeared on ESPN FC in early 2020 before he returned to England for his treatment.
Mariner’s ESPN FC and ESPN soccer colleagues share their remembrances:
In Paul, we have lost a great player, a great coach, and most importantly from a selfish point of view, a great friend and someone who I had the most incredible laughs with from the first second we met. I loved that man.” — Liverpool legend and ESPN FC analyst Steve Nicol, who played against Mariner in English first division league. Nicol later hired Mariner to join his New England Revolution coaching staff
Legendary career, but more importantly, legendary person. The day Paul came into my life, it changed forever – it changed for good. I feel very lucky to have known Paul, but feel fortunate to know Paul cared about me and we cared about each other because in life those come very few and far between. — Taylor Twellman. ESPN’s lead soccer analyst and former New England Revolution striker who had his best seasons as a professional under Mariner’s tutelage
To know Paul was to love Paul. From his laughter that lit up any room to his amazing banter that would leave you in stitches, to taking in an Arsenal game with him threatening to go on and play for them again if they didn’t pull up their socks. No matter how short or how long, it truly was a gift to be in Paul’s company. He is that colleague, that friend, that quickly becomes family – and to me, that is what he will forever be, family.
— Alexis Nunes, London-based ESPN presenter who worked closely with Mariner on ESPN FC
We’ve lost a good one. A colleague, a co-commentator, a friend, a rascal, but most of all one of the kindest human beings you could ever meet. — ESPN play-by-play commentator and author Mark Donaldson, who worked alongside Mariner and is currently writing his biography – PAUL MARINER: My Rock and Roll Football Story (Reach Sport UK) in bookstores October 2021