Liverpool, England’s most successful football club, have witnessed some truly wonderful players at Anfield throughout the course of their 118 year history. Although the current Liverpool side only utilises the talents of three British-born players, Liverpool’s past is littered with many gifted and distinguished Brits. In my opinion, the following 11 players make up Liverpool’s Greatest British XI of all time.
Ray Clemence (Goalkeeper)
LFC Career: 1967-1981
Honours: 5 League Titles, 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 3 European Cups, 2 UEFA Cups
Signed for just £18,000 in 1967, ‘Clem’ is widely considered to be the finest custodian in Liverpool’s history. Famed for his consistency and reassuring presence, Clemence is one of European football’s most decorated goalkeepers. Although his Anfield medal haul reflects a multitude of glittering moments upon Merseyside, Clemence’s most memorable saves include crucial penalty stops during Liverpool’s successful UEFA Cup campaigns of 1972/73 and 1975/76. Despite facing stiff competition from Peter Shilton, Clemence managed to attain 61 caps for England. Fittingly, Clemence’s last game for Liverpool before departing for Tottenham Hotspur saw the club beat Real Madrid to win their third European Cup.
Alan Hansen (Centre-back)
LFC Career: 1977-1991
Honours: 8 League Titles, 2 FA Cups, 4 League Cups, 3 European Cups
Ubiquitous television pundit Alan Hansen, nicknamed ‘Jockey’ amongst the Anfield faithful, is regarded by many as the finest defender ever to have graced Anfield. Arriving on Merseyside in 1977, Hansen enjoyed a glorious trophy-laden spell during his 14 years with the club. Eschewing the traditional British stereotype of the ‘heart-on-sleeve’, bruising defender, Hansen was known for his elegance and class, exemplifying the qualities of a top-class, ball-playing centre-back. After being awarded the captaincy in 1985, Hansen skippered the side to their first League and FA Cup double in 1985/86. Unfortunately Hansen’s last few years at Anfield were disrupted by knee problems, with these injuries leading to his eventual retirement in 1991.
Emlyn Hughes (Centre-back)
LFC Career: 1967-1979
Honours: 4 League Titles, 1 FA Cup, 2 European Cups, 2 UEFA Cups
As Liverpool’s first European Cup-winning captain, ‘Crazy Horse’ is held in high regard amongst Reds fans. A player who performed with great distinction at full-back, centre-back and midfield for Liverpool, Hughes earned the nickname ‘Crazy Horse’ after a ferocious tackle on Newcastle United tackle Albert Bennett. A committed and versatile player, Hughes was named FWA Player of the Year on the back of his performances during Liverpool’s successful European Cup campaign of 1976/77. Capped 62 times by England, ‘Crazy Horse’ skippered his country on 23 occasions.
Phil Neal (Right-back)
LFC Career: 1974-1985
Honours: 8 League Titles, 4 League Cups, 4 European Cups, 1 UEFA Cup
The most decorated player in Liverpool’s illustrious history, reliable right-back Phil Neal was the model of consistency for Liverpool during his 11 years at Anfield. Signed from Northampton Town in 1974, Neal became a staple of Liverpool’s starting line-up and made a staggering 365 consecutive league appearances between December 1974 and September 1983. Neal managed to score in two separate European Cup finals, netting a penalty in the 1977 final with Borussia Moenchengladbach and a close-range effort against Roma in the 1984 final. Although Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs recently eclipsed Neal’s record of being Britain’s most decorated footballer, Neal is still the most decorated Englishman in football history.
Alan Kennedy (Left-back)
LFC Career: 1978-1985
Honours: 6 League Titles, 4 League Cups, 2 European Cups
Nicknamed ‘Barney Rubble’ on the basis of his resemblance to Fred Flintstone’s best friend, foraging full-back Alan Kennedy is best known for scoring the winning goal in two separate European Cup finals. Having netted the only goal of the game against Real Madrid in 1981, ‘Barney Rubble’ scored the winning penalty in the 1984 European Cup Final shootout with Italian side Roma. After impressing at first club Newcastle United, Kennedy moved to Anfield in 1978 and swiftly made the left-back berth his own.
Steven Gerrard (Midfield)
LFC Career: 1998 – Present
Honours: 2 FA Cups, 2 League Cups, 1 European Cup, 1 UEFA Cup
Widely considered to be the finest midfielder of his generation, current Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard epitomizes the spirit and ethos of Liverpool Football Club. Blessed with tenacity, determination, technique and a tremendous eye for goal, Gerrard has, at times, single-handedly lead his side to glory over the past ten years. Although the legendary European Cup Final of 2005 represents the zenith of Gerrard’s Liverpool career, the 2006 FA Cup Final (one known as ‘the Gerrard Final’) highlighted Gerrard at the peak of his powers. Having won both the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards (2006 and 2009 respectively), Gerrard was also named in the PFA Team of the Year for six straight seasons between 2004 and 2009. Despite a disappointing 2009/10 season, Gerrard still remains the most important player at Anfield, and central to Roy Hodgson’s plans.
Graeme Souness (Midfield)
LFC Career: 1978-1984
Honours: 5 League Titles, 4 League Cups, 3 European Cups
Despite an unsuccessful stint as Liverpool manager during the early 1990s, Graeme Souness is still regarded as one of the club’s best ever midfielders. Having made his name at Middlesbrough during the mid-1970s, ‘Souey’ was signed by Bob Paisley in 1978 as a replacement for Ian Callaghan. Blessed with fearsome tenacity and delicate elegance, Souness was regarded as the most complete midfielder of his day. After being named captain in 1981, Souness lead the side to three league titles, three League Cups and one European Cup, before departing for Sampdoria in the summer of 1984.
John Barnes (Midfield)
LFC Career: 1987-1997
Honours: 2 League Titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 League Cup
Affectionately known as ‘Digger’ (after his initials JCB) amongst Liverpool fans, Jamaican-born John Barnes is one of the most exciting players to have ever graced the hallowed Anfield turf. Having made the move up north from Watford in the summer of 1987, Barnes (along with Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge) formed one third of Liverpool’s electrifying attacking trio of 1987/88, with the threesome terrorising defenders up and down the land. Barnes’s best season in a Liverpool shirt occurred during 1989/90, when the England international scored 22 goals from the left-wing, as Liverpool secured their last league title. Barnes was also named FWA Player of the Year in recognition of his stellar efforts. Barnes moved to a more central position later on his Liverpool career, before departing for Newcastle United in 1997.
Kenny Dalglish (‘In-the-hole’)
LFC Career: 1977-1989
Honours: 6 League Titles, 1 FA Cup, 4 League Cups, 3 European Cups
Recently named as the greatest striker to have played in Britain since WW2 by FourFourTwo magazine, Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish is considered by most to be Liverpool’s greatest ever player. ‘King Kenny’, voted number one in the list of ‘100 Players Who Shook The Kop’, signed for Liverpool in 1977 for a then record transfer fee of £440,000 as a replacement for Kevin Keegan. Despite initial doubts over his ability to replace Keegan, Dalglish quickly proved his worth, scoring the winning goal in the 1978 European Final against Bruges at Wembley. Forming and developing a legendary strike-partnership with Welshman Ian Rush, Dalglish was named FWA Player of the Year twice (1979 and 1983) and PFA Players’ Player of the Year once (1983). Dalglish also enjoyed a successful spell managing the side, leading the club to three league titles and two FA Cups between 1985 and 1991.
Robbie Fowler (Striker)
LFC Career: 1993-2001; 2006-2007
Honours: 1 FA Cup, 2 League Cups, 1 UEFA Cup
Toxteth-born Robbie Fowler, a man who enjoyed two stints with Liverpool, is regarded as one of the best strikers in Liverpol’s history. Bursting on to the scene as an 18-year-old in 1993, Fowler scored on his senior debut against Fulham in the League Cup and followed it up by scoring all five goals against the London side in the return leg. Scorer of the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history (three goals in four minutes and 33 seconds against Arsenal in 1994), Fowler was widely considered to be the best natural finisher in England after scoring more than 30 goals for three consecutive seasons between 1994 and 1997, with such feats leading to him being named PFA Young Player of the Year for two years running (1995 and 1996). After being forced out of Anfield by Gerard Houllier in late 2001, ‘God’ returned to Liverpool to much fanfare in 2006, managing 12 goals in his second spell at the club.
Ian Rush (Striker)
LFC Career: 1980-1987; 1988-1996
Honours: 5 League Titles, 3 FA Cups, 5 League Cups, 1 European Cup
Signed as an 18-year-old from lower league Chester City in the spring of 1980, Ian Rush went on to establish himself as Liverpool’s all-time record goalscorer. The ultimate finisher, Rush broke a string of English football records; the Welshman is the highest 20th century scorer in both the FA Cup (44 goals) and League Cup (49 goals), the record FA Cup Final goalscorer (5 goals) and the record Merseyside Derby goalscorer (25 goals for Liverpool against Everton). Although Rush enjoyed many glorious years at Anfield, he can consider 1984 to be his annus mirabilis; in addition to helping his side to an unprecedented league, League Cup and European Cup treble, Rush was named both FWA and PFA Player’s Player of the Year, as well as winning the European Golden Boot after scoring 47 goals for Liverpool during 1983/84. After an unsuccessful year with Juventus in 1987/1988, manager Kenny Dalglish brought Rush back ‘home’, and the Welshman swiftly resumed usual goalscoring duties.
Any glaring omissions? Let me know what you think!
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