I played up front for England and hold a record no one wants – but had last laugh after making millions in second career | The Sun

NOT many can lay claim to being among the best in one sport.

Mick Channon was unique because he hit the big time in two.

Those with absolutely no interest in racing will know him as the former England striker who scored 21 goals in 46 appearances between 1972 and 1977.

They also might remember him as being the most-capped England player to have never played in a major international tournament.

During Channon's time with England they failed to qualify for the 1972 and 1976 Euros, back when just four teams made it to the finals.

And they never even got to the 1974 World Cup under legendary manager Sir Alf Ramsey.

The dismal international achievements didn't impact his incredible club results though.

To this day he remains Southampton's record goalscorer with 227, some 40 years after last playing for them.

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He also played for Man City, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Norwich during a career that saw him score 236 league goals in 722 appearances.

Always in the background, though, was his love of racing.

And punters with no interest in football will know him for banging in a few big winners over the years.

Channon's passion for the nags was one that grew during his friendship with Kevin Keegan.

That's not to say that it was instant success with matters in the saddle.


Keegan and Channon, now 73, co-owned a horse called Man On The Run – who turned out to be pretty ropy at running.

Channon recalled: "I got Kevin along to the races. Our horse came stone last, so we got drunk on champagne."

Things turned more serious when Channon retired from football in 1987 and turned his full attention to racing.

That came after some stern words from brother Phil and friends, who, according to Channon, told him to 'get off his a**e and stop feeling sorry for himself'.

The tough love worked.

Soon he was scoring far more frequently on the track than he ever was on the pitch.

By the early 2000s he was one of the top trainers in England and had nearly 200 horses under his watch at the late Queen's former base in West Ilsley stables near Newbury.

The good times kept rolling until last week, when Channon announced he was retiring and leaving the horses to his son Jack.

There is no doubt it is an end of an era in racing.

As good as he was reaching the top of two sports, punters loved Channon for his personality and straight-talking style.

He also cherished friendships deeply.


Channon recently wrote a letter in which he said he 'loved' dear mate Henry Ponsonby, who sadly died just days before Channon pocketed £100,000 with victory in a race at Newmarket.

Channon made reference to his own health when revealing why now was the time to enjoy life away from work after hitting the 2,500-winner mark.

He said: "I know I've got to move on for several different reasons, things aren't always as easy as you see and health is important to us all.

"It had been heading that way for a while, and I think everyone knew it was going to happen."

In typical Channon style, though, he went out on a winner.

Caernarfon won a Listed contest at Newmarket worth £23,000, tipping his winnings in Britain alone over the past five seasons £3.5million.

Luck? Coincidence? Knowing Channon, it was planned all along.


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