Osman on Mariner: 'He didn't follow anyone, people followed him'

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Town v Plymouth will be Paul Mariner Day - Credit: ITFC

Russell Osman has paid tribute to Paul Mariner saying the former Town No.9 was, 'a man we all looked to.'

Osman and another Town legend, John Wark will be present at a special Q&A in the Ipswich Town FanZone before today's game against Plymouth in a match being dedicated to Mariner, the former Town and Plymouth striker, who died last year.

"Paul was like a Roy of the Rovers centre forward in a day when the No.9 shirt meant something," Osman, who played almost 400 games for Town and was a member of the 1981 UEFA Cup-winning team alongside Mariner, said.

"The No. 9 meant you were the central striker, the figure head, the target man. You were really the man who was there to lead the way and be followed.

"Boy, Paul was absolutely magnificent at that. As soon as he got on the pitch, he led the troops. He was the man we looked to when we were attacking. He was unbelievably brave, fearless in fact. Like centre forwards were in those days.

"He was never worried about getting hurt. He got clattered right, left and centre by centre-halves, goalkeepers. But he never shirked a challenge. He was a great example and leader and someone all the players enjoyed following, on and off the pitch.

Trevor Whymark helps Mariner celebrate his first strike for the Blues, as Ipswich Town beat West Bro

Trevor Whymark helps Paul Mariner celebrate his first goal for the Blues, as Ipswich Town beat West Bromwich Albion 7-0 in 1976 - Credit: Archant

"He was loud, he was boisterous, he was a man's man."

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Mariner died of brain cancer at 68 years of age last July. He played for both Town and Plymouth, and both teams will be recognising his huge contribution to both clubs today, deeming the match 'Paul Mariner Day'.

"Paul was your all-round centre forward, that's why he got the England recognition and played in World Cup finals because he was the best at doing that in the country at that time," Osman added.

"He would say to us, whether I'm marked, or surrounded, fire it at me and I'll do the best I can to deal with it. That gave you great confidence. At times when you thought you didn't have an outlet, he would turn a hopeful ball into a good ball."

Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Town's FA Cup win in 1978. Picture: ARCHANT

Roger Osborne, left, and Paul Mariner celebrate Town's FA Cup win in 1978. - Credit: Archant

And Osman admitted Mariner was a real character but very much his own man.

"Paul was loud. He liked his heavy rock music," said Osman.

"That was Paul, he didn't follow anyone, people followed him.  He was his own man. He wore Puma boots when everyone else was made to wear Adidas!

"I always remember early on, I was about 18 when he joined the club. He came in. He just had that stature."

Ipswich Town's John Wark and Paul Mariner kiss the UEFA Cup in 1981

Ipswich Town's John Wark and Paul Mariner kiss the UEFA Cup in 1981 - Credit: Archant

It will be a special occasion today for those Blues fans who saw Mariner play to pay tribute to him, and for those younger who never had such fortune, but have hopefully seen Mariner's exploits on video clips.

"It's nice the club are going to the trouble of remembering Paul properly," Osman added.

"We had a reunion recently of the UEFA 1981 side and Paul and Kevin Beattie were sadly missed."

Members of the Mariner family will be at Portman Road for what promises to be a special occasion. There will be a minute’s applause ahead of kick-off to remember Paul Mariner.

The Blues legend made 339 appearances for Town and 155 for the Pilgrims. He won 35 England caps.

(L-R): Terry Butcher, Alan Brazil, Russell Osman, Paul Mariner, John Wark and Kevin O'Callaghan have

Left to right: Terry Butcher, Alan Brazil, Russell Osman, Paul Mariner, John Wark and Kevin O'Callaghan have some fun outside the team hotel ahead of Town's famous win over St Etienne on their way to UEFA Cup glory in 1981. - Credit: Archant