Chris Bart-Williams, ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest midfielder, dies at 49

Chris Bart-Williams spent six years at Nottingham Forest

Chris Bart-Williams spent six years at Nottingham Forest – Richard Sellers/Sportsphoto

Chris Bart-Williams, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest midfielder, has died at 49.

Bart-Williams enjoyed a 16-year professional career during which he spent eight years in the Premier League and played 16 times for England Under-21.

His former Forest team-mate Mark Crossley paid tribute on social media, to both Bart-Williams and Trevor Francis, who died earlier on Monday. Francis managed Bart-Williams at Wednesday in the early 1990s.

Crossley tweeted: “Devastating and I’m so upset to hear the news of Trevor Francis passing and my former team mate Chris Bart Williams, both so young, it is so sad.”

Kevin Campbell, formerly of Everton and Arsenal as well as Forest with Bart-Williams, tweeted: “R.I.P. Chris, love you Bartman! My lil brother we shared such great moments and I truly am devastated at the extremely sad news!”.

Bart-Williams was born in Sierra Leone and came through at Leyton Orient before joining Sheffield Wednesday for a club-record fee of £275,000 in 1991.

He went on to play for the club 156 times – including in the FA Cup Final in 1993 and in Wednesday’s Uefa Cup campaign the following season.

Though for most of his time in the game he was an attacking midfielder, he was deployed in a more defensive role later in his career.

In any case he had a knack for goal-scoring, including a Premier League hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Southampton at Hillsborough in 1993, when he was just 18.

It was not enough for manager Francis to throw him into the League Cup final six days later, which Wednesday lost 2-1 to Arsenal, but Bart-Williams’ obvious talent caught the eye.

In the following season he helped Wednesday to the semi-final of the League Cup, which they lost over two legs to Manchester United, and played in their brief foray in the Uefa Cup.

After four years at Wednesday Bart-Williams moved to Forest in 1995 in a deal worth £2.5 million. He later had spells with Charlton Athletic, Ipswich Town, Apoel of Cyprus and Marsaxlokk of Malta.

On Monday night, Ipswich tweeted a tribute to Bart-Williams, saying: “Once a Blue, always a Blue.”

After retiring he took up coaching in the United States, where he also recruited players for colleges and ran a mentoring programme for young players called CBW Soccer Elite.

Speaking in 2018, he told The Mirror that it would be a “shame to waste his experience” by not helping the next generation of players.

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