Stan Bowles: QPR icon dies aged 75 after battle with Alzheimer's disease

Maverick: Stan Bowles lit up English football in the 1970s (Getty Images)
Maverick: Stan Bowles lit up English football in the 1970s (Getty Images)

QPR icon and former England and Manchester City forward Stan Bowles, one of English football’s great maverick entertainers and cult heroes, has died at the age of 75.

Bowles had been battling Alzheimer’s disease since 2015 and his death was announced by his daughter Tracey in a Facebook post shared by her father’s official page on Saturday evening.

“Sad to be writing this but dad has passed away," wrote Tracey Bowles. “He was with all the family and went peacefully. God bless you Stanley.”

QPR followed with a statement on their legendary former No10, which read: “It is with a heavy heart we have learned that QPR legend Stan Bowles has passed away.

“A footballing icon and arguably the greatest to have ever worn our famous blue and white hoops.

“All our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time. RIP, Stan. Forever R’s.”

They added: “The club will be confirming how we will be paying a fitting tribute to Stan in due course.”

Bowles - AKA ‘Stan the Man’ - scored 97 goals in 315 total appearances across all competitions for QPR in a seven-year stint between 1972-79, forming a key part of the team under Dave Sexton that finished as runners-up behind Bob Paisley’s Liverpool in the old First Division in 1975-76.

The Collyhurst-born Bowles began his playing career as an apprentice at Manchester City and also represented Bury, Crewe and Carlisle before heading to west London for a £110,000 fee as the successor to fellow iconic QPR No10 Rodney Marsh.

After a falling out with QPR boss Tommy Docherty, Bowles joined Nottingham Forest in 1979 but stayed for only one season under Brian Clough before heading to Leyton Orient.

He joined Brentford in 1981, playing for the Bees for two years and briefly coming out of retirement for a second short stint with the club before leaving again in 1984 and later playing for non-league side Epping Town before hanging up his boots for good.

Bowles controversially earned only five senior international caps with England during his career, making his debut during Sir Alf Ramsey’s final game in charge against Portugal in Lisbon in 1974 and scoring his only Three Lions goal in the 2-0 win over Wales at Ninian Park that same year.

He made his final England appearance in February 1977, in a friendly against the Netherlands at Wembley.

After retiring from football, Bowles worked as a pundit for Sky Sports and also ventured into after-dinner speaking and wrote betting columns.

In a PFA poll in 2007, he was voted as their club’s greatest ever player by fans of both QPR and Brentford.

In August 2015, following his Alzheimer’s diagnosis, QPR held ‘Stan Bowles Day’ at Loftus Road, dedicating their Championship match against Rotherham to Bowles as part of their events paying tribute to the 1975-76 team - regarded as the finest in club history - 40 years on, presenting him to an adoring crowd.

In summer 2017, QPR raised more than £100,000 for charity with a Stan Bowles Benefit Match against Bournemouth.

In December 2021, QPR renamed the Ellerslie Road Stand at Loftus Road as the Stanley Bowles Stand.

Following his sad passing, Leyton Orient wrote: “All at Leyton Orient are devastated to hear of the passing of Stan Bowles, who represented the club during the 1980-81 season. “A true footballing icon. Rest in peace, Stan.”

Gary Lineker wrote on social media website X, formerly known as Twitter: “Sorry to hear that Stan Bowles has died.

“A delightful footballer and hugely charismatic man. Always loved watching him play. RIP Stan.”

England’s official X account wrote: “Rest in peace, Stan Bowles. Stan made five appearances for England, scoring for the Three Lions in a 2–0 win over Wales at Ninian Park in 1974.”

Brentford wrote: “One of the finest ever to play in red and white, we mourn the death of Stan Bowles.

“A great entertainer and character who put smiles on the faces of all who saw him play.

“Our thoughts are with Stan's friends and family at this incredibly sad time.”