Former England and West Bromwich Albion centre-forward
On the football field Derek Kevan, the former England and West Bromwich Albion centre-forward, who has died after a long illness aged 77, was the embodiment of his nickname, the Tank. The rampaging striker was armed with a rocket of a shot in both feet and was fierce in the air – as well as towards the opposition in general. He once said: "If a defender got in the way, he had to be taken out of the way. No niceties!"
To some he was the caricature of a bludgeoning English centre-forward, but Kevan's goal-scoring record spoke for itself. In 10 seasons at West Brom, he scored 173 goals in 291 games, as well as eight in 14 appearances for England. In the 1961-62 season he was joint top scorer in the First Division, with 33 goals, a postwar club record. The goals and his unflinching commitment meant he was loved by the club's fans.
The highlight of his international career was the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where he scored two goals in four games in England's otherwise disappointing campaign. Against the Soviet Union, he headed past Lev Yashin, and on more than one occasion did his best to try to bundle the legendary Russian goalkeeper into the net, too.
Kevan was born in Ripon, North Yorkshire, and began his career at Bradford Park Avenue, scoring eight goals in 15 games as a teenager. Though he lacked the finesse on which West Brom manager Vic Buckingham prided his team, Kevan was Buckingham's first signing. He joined the club in 1953 and played in the reserves for two years while completing his national service in the army, before making his debut, and scoring twice, against Everton.
Kevan left Albion for Chelsea in 1963, the season after he had been the country's joint highest goalscorer, after falling out with West Brom's new manager, Archie Macaulay, but he was reluctant to leave. "I didn't want to go – I was enjoying it at the Albion so much," he said. He let the manager know what he thought of the decision to sell him by scoring a hat-trick in his swansong against League champions Ipswich Town.
Kevan stayed at Stamford Bridge for only five months, scoring just once in seven games. A move to Manchester City saw him regain his blistering form, as he scored 36 goals in 1963-64, a postwar club record, and an impressive total of 48 goals in 67 games in his two years at the club.
Then he returned to London, for a short spell at Crystal Palace, before still shorter ones with Peterborough United and Luton Town. In 1967 he moved to Stockport County, with whom he won the only medal of his career, helping the club become Fourth Division champions. His career petered out with Macclesfield Town and the non-league clubs Boston United, Stourbridge and Ansells.
He scored a total of 235 goals in 440 games for eight clubs. On retiring he returned to the West Midlands, where he had spent his best years as a footballer, and worked for a pub, a brewery and as a delivery driver. He rekindled his relationship with West Brom, playing charity matches for the old stars XI and becoming the club's lottery manager in the 1980s.
He is survived by his wife, Connie.
• Derek Tennyson Kevan, footballer, born 6 March 1935; died 4 January 2013