As a lifelong LFC fan I’ve seen many players come and go over the years. Some great, some not so great and the few that have been absolutely awful. I’ve had countless discussions about the merits and weaknesses of the chosen ones lucky enough to wear the mighty red shirt.
We’ve all picked our all time sides. I’ve changed mine a thousand times. It’s not something I’ve put into print before but I’ve decided to come up with my best ever LFC XI for the world to see. I’ve gone with the old school 4-4-2 formation. So without further ado here goes….
We have been blessed with some great keepers at our club. We’ve had Ray Clemence, Pepe Reina and Jerzy Dudek to name a few but I have to go with Brucie. The most athletic, the most agile and possibly the most crazy keeper I’ve ever seen. He was plucked out of the blue from Zimbabwe taking over from Clemence. After a shaky start, his unique brand of showmanship won over the Kop. Incredible shot-stopper who dominated his penalty area. Yes, he could be guilty of the most bizarre errors but what keeper isn’t. Who could forget his antics in the penalty shootout in the ’84 European Cup Final in Rome. He won us that trophy. It was close but for me it’s Grobbelaar.
RIGHT BACK : ROB JONES
I can still see it now. The Reds were playing United at Old Trafford. It was October 1991. Ryan Giggs was in his pomp. We had a problem at right back so the manager at the time, Graeme Souness, brought in unknown 19 year old, Rob Jones for his LFC debut. Like all Reds at the time I was like, ‘who the hell is that?’. A teenager on his debut to take on Giggs at Old Trafford? OMG!
Little did we know that we were about to witness possibly the finest debut performance from any Red ever! Giggs never got a look-in. We drew 0-0. It was the composure, the maturity, the pace, the quality on the ball, the sure tackling, it just blew us all away. There was essentially the perfect right back right before our eyes playing in the mighty red shirt (was actually green that day).
Seven months later, he was playing for England and had won the FA Cup. The impression he made on us Reds lucky enough to have seen him that day will never go away. Such a shame his career was so terribly blighted by injury. It’s such a tragedy that Jones had to retire at aged 27. I could have picked Mr Consistency, Phil Neal, but for me it’s Jones every time.
CENTRE BACKS : ALAN HANSEN & SAMI HYYPIA
So this was the hardest decision of the lot. I can’t believe I’ve left out players like Jamie Carragher, Emlyn Hughes, Mark Lawrenson, Daniel Agger, Phil Thompson to name just a few but I’ve gone with the class that was Hansen and the colossus that was Hyypia.
Hansen was so comfortable in possession, he was never fazed. Always had time. Was never the quickest but all the speed was in his mind. Fabulous reader of the game.
One of the enduring images I have of Hansen is when we smashed Everton 5-0 at Goodison Park in 1981. He made our first goal that day with the ball at his feet gliding majestically out from the back, into the Everton midfield before sliding a glorious, defence-splitting pass through to Ian Rush who dispatched it past Neville Southall with a wonderful finish. Just a beautiful, beautiful goal!
Hyypia was an absolute man-mountain of a player. Not as assured as Hansen on the ball but few were. He too was an excellent reader of the game but in the air he was unstoppable. Hyypia would win everything and was just a force of nature. He was also a threat at the other end of the pitch too weighing in with his fair share of goals. Indeed he popped up with 37 goals in 10 years at the club. A fabulous return for a centre-back. A wonderful leader.
So yeah for me it’s these two at the back in front of Grobbelaar.
LEFT BACK : ALAN KENNEDY
We’ve never been blessed with a worldie left-back. It’s always been a problem position for us. We’ve had some decent ones but I’m going to go with the one with the most historical significance to our club.
Let’s be honest, Alan Kennedy was a bang average player but he did score not one but two European Cup winning goals. The first against Real Madrid in Paris in 1981 and the second the winning penalty against Roma in their own backyard in 1984. Not bad for a left-back.
He also scored a vital equaliser against Man Utd at Wembley in the 1983 League Cup Final which we went on to win 3-1. His uncanny ability to score vital goals gets him the nod at left back.
GRAEME SOUNESS & STEVEN GERRARD
I have to say picking these two was by far the easiest decision. For me one was my all-time midfielder before the other came on the scene.
Lets start with Souness! What a player! An absolute monster of a player! He was so stylish. Fabulous passing range, scored so many great goals and a truly inspirational leader. He could dictate the pace of a game like few players there have ever been. Souness was a master of slowing the game down when needed and then speeding it up with a rapier-like pass.
What set Souness apart from the others though was the fact that he was also one of the most intimidating players ever to set foot on a football field. His mastery of, shall we say, the darker arts of the game was legendary. He could be absolutely brutal. Some of his tackles should have come with a government health warning. He was never one to hold back. Such a presence!
Kenny Dalglish would get all the plaudits back in those days but for me the most important player in the side was Souness. He was the vital piece and he made us tick!
The Italian Serie A was by far the biggest league in the world in the 80’s. Souness was born to play in it. It was no coincidence that all the top Italian clubs wanted him and he would leave Anfield in 1984 to go to Sampdoria. He would become one of the few British exiles to become a success in Italian football.
I have no hesitation in saying that Souness would be the captain of my all-time LFC XI.
Steven Gerrard. Wow! Can you imagine him and Souness in midfield? Ahh if only! Stevie G is probably the greatest all-round talent to put on the famous red shirt. Where do you start with him? Fabulous technique! A powerhouse right foot! Incredible will to win. Loved a tackle! Scored so many incredible goals and so many important goals. He basically carried this club on his back for so many years.
We all remember Istanbul and the way Stevie willed the team to that unforgettable comeback. That unbelievable strike against Olympiakos in the Champions League and his incredible performance against West Ham in the 2005 FA Cup Final. The thing is he did that so many times. It’s a travesty that he never managed to get that elusive Premier League winners medal.
We can count ourselves lucky that Stevie never left us. He could have walked into any other side on the planet but chose to stay with his hometown club. Says it all about the man.
LEFT SIDE MIDFIELD : JOHN BARNES
A true genius and to my mind the most gifted player ever to play for LFC. At his peak in the late 80s there was a strong argument to say that Barnes was the best player in the world. He was that good! The pace, the power, the balance and that wand of a left peg. In all my years of following the Reds he’s the one! My favourite player!
I remember Barnes winning the ball in midfield, waltzing past 2 players on the edge of the box before sliding the ball under David Seaman for a fantastic goal against QPR in 1987. That fantastic cross at Goodison for Ray Houghton to head the winner in the FA Cup in ’88. The brilliant free-kick against Arsenal at Anfield in ’88. His fantastic right footer into the top corner again against Everton in ’91. So many great memories. He was box office! Every time he got the ball you just knew something good was about to happen.
Its such a shame that he never got to show that form on the European stage due to Liverpool’s 5-year ban following the Heysel disaster. Injuries slowed down Barnes during the latter part of his career but that period from 1987 to around 1992 was certainly the best football I’ve ever seen from any Reds player EVER!
RIGHT MIDFIELD : TERRY MCDERMOTT
I think McDermott was always underrated. Great right foot, boundless energy and the scorer of so many fabulous and important goals for us. He’s up against some serious competition down that right side. Ian Callaghan, Ray Houghton, Steve McManaman, Craig Johnston are some that spring to mind. McDermott had that something extra. He could decorate a game with the most outrageous quality.
Who could forget his unreal volley from 30 yards against Spurs at White Hart Lane in 1980 that won the Goal of the Season. What about his strike against Moenchengladbach to open the scoring in the 1977 European Cup Final. How that about left foot chip against Everton in the ’77 Cup semi-final. He’s perhaps best remembered for his headed goal that finished off a fantastic box-to-box move in that memorable 7-0 rout of Spurs in ’78. Terrific player.
KENNY DALGLISH & IAN RUSH
I lied earlier when I said the centre-back was the hardest decision. This was so, so hard. So many great strikers, Robbie Fowler, Fernando Torres, Michael Owen, Luis Suarez, my God it’s almost blasphemous to leave them out but there can only be two.
Dalglish and Rush. ‘The King’ as Kenny is known and the record goalscorer in LFC history. Those, like myself, who were lucky enough to have been around when the two of them were in their pomp can count ourselves truly blessed. They were just irresistible together.
The skill, the guile, the cunning of King Kenny allied to the rapier-like master marksman that was Ian Rush. They were and still are the greatest strike partnership I have ever seen. Dalglish always just seemed to know where Rush was every time. That little turn and then the delicious through ball played with perfect pace. Rush, the ultimate predator would latch onto it with his searing pace and dispatch with aplomb.
So Rush would end up with 346 goals for the Reds. Dalglish, of course, wasn’t shy in front of goal himself scoring 118 goals for LFC. He still remains the only player to have scored 100 goals in both Scottish and English football. King Kenny scored 112 goals for Celtic before his move to Anfield in 1977 for just £440,000! He is regarded by most to be THE greatest player in the history of LFC. Rush cost just £300,00 from Chester City. Can you imagine the two of them in today’s market? The mind boggles……
The big boss I’d put in charge of this team would be Bob Paisley. Bill Shankly was the originator but Paisley took us to the heights.
So that’s my all-time LFC XI. Please feel free to challenge me and send me your XI’s. It’s all about the debate! The more, the merrier!