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Legends of the Game: Martin Johnson
The 2003 World Cup winning captain
Posted Jul 06, 2011 by Legends
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The next in our legends series is a World Cup winning captain that dominated the game, both physically and in terms of his sheer size, and has now gone on to lead the England national team. This week’s legend is Martin Johnson, the former Leicester Tigers and England lock.
In a career spanning between 1989 and 2005, Johnson made 347 appearances for Leicester, scoring a total of 40 points in the process, and was capped 84 times by England, scoring 10 points, and made 8 appearances for the British and Irish Lions, across the 1993, 1997 and 2001 tours, leading the side in both 1997 and 2001. Johnson captained Leicester to back-to-back Heineken Cup titles in 2000 and 2001, and won the league on six occasions before his retirement.
Since then, he has gone on to lead the England national side since 2008, replacing Brian Ashton, despite having no previous coaching experience.
Johnson made his Leicester debut back in 1989, and was made captain in 1997 following the retirement of another Leicester and England great, Dean Richards. He earned his first full England cap in 1993 against France in a 16-15 victory at Twickenham and was later part of the team that won the Grand Slam in 1995.
Johnson was then to lead England to World Cup glory in 2003, beating South Africa, Wales, France and then, famously, Australia in the final thanks to Jonny Wilkinson’s late drop goal. This achievement lead to Johnson being awarded a CBE in the New Year honours in 2004, and he made one final appearance in his own testimonial match at Twickenham in 2005, which also marked the return of Jonah Lomu to competitive rugby after a kidney transplant.
In 2008, Johnson was appointed as successor to Brian Ashton as coach of the England side, but positive results were hard to come by and he was given the task of rebuilding a national side that had lost the majority of the ageing generation of 2003. In 2011, a new-look England won the Six Nations, missing out on the Grand Slam in the final match, when they were defeated 24-8 to Ireland in Dublin.