The Liverpool FC Forum > The History Board - 1892 to 1994

The Greatest player Debate Vote Open. 1964 - 2009. Round 3 - The Centre Backs

(1/37) > >>

Phil Thompson


Phil Thompson won everything in the game as a player and is a true Liverpool legend.
As a player and a former captain at Anfield Thompson won won seven league titles, two European Cups, two League Cups, a UEFA Cup and an FA Cup during his career. In 1981 he lifted the European Cup as captain when Liverpool beat Real Madrid 1-0 in Paris, one of his proudest ever moments in football.

He made his Liverpool debut in 1971 when the great Bill Shankly gave him his break and Reds fans knew he was a class act when he gave an outstanding display in the 1974 FA Cup Final when Liverpool beat Newcastle 3-0.

After 477 appearances for the club he left Anfield for a spell at Sheffield United in 1985 Thompson was brought back to the club a year later by Kenny Dalglish and appointed reserve team manager. Thompson won numerous reserve league titles with the reserves and when Dalglish left the club in 1991 even had a spell as first team coach before Graeme Souness was appointed Liverpool manager.

A personality clash between the pair meant Thompson's Anfield days were numbered under Souness and he left the club in controversial circumstances in 1992 when he was replaced as reserve boss by Sammy Lee.
After a spell as a TV pundit for Sky Sports Thompson returned to Anfield as assistant manager to Gerard Houllier in 1998. He helped shape the defence into having the best defensive record in the Premier League which laid the foundations for the treble season.

Thompson also had a spell in charge of the first team in October 2001 when Gerard Houllier had to undergo major heart surgery and did very well. Under Thompson Liverpool found some real consistency getting to second in the Premier League and the quarter-finals of the Champions League, before returning to assistant when Houllier returned.

When new manager Rafael Benitez was appointed as Liverpool manager in June 2004 Thompson wasn't part of his plans and left the club, but one thing is for sure Liverpool will never leave Thommo.


Alan Hansen

Birthdate:   13.06.1955
Birthplace:  Sauchie, Scotland
Other clubs:  Partick Thistle
Bought from:  Partick Thistle
Signed for LFC:  £100000 05.05.1977
International debut:  19.05.1979 vs. Wales
International caps:  26/0
Liverpool debut:  24.09.1977
Last appearance: 28.04.1990
Debut goal:  19.10.1977
Last goal: 15.09.1987
Contract expiry:  01.03.1991
LFC league games/goals:  434 / 8
Total LFC games/goals:  620 / 14

 Liverpool honours
     Charity Shield: 6

        1977–78*, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1982–83, 1986–87*, 1989–90

     European Cup: 3

        1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84

     League Championship: 8

        1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90

     League Cup: 3

        1980–81, 1982–83, 1983–84

     FA Cup: 2

        1985–86, 1988–89

     Screen Sport Super Cup: 1


* Shared

Alan Hansen was brought to Liverpool in 1977 after he had helped Partick Thistle to the Scottish First Division title the previous season. Bob Paisley had to beat off stiff competition for the signature of the 22 year old by offering the full amount of the £100,000 his club were asking for. This would turn out to be an absolute bargain as he would go on to become probably the most skillful, elegant central defender that British football had ever produced.
He made his Liverpool debut on the 24th September 1977 in a victory against Derby County at Anfield, and his first goal would arrive a month later in the European cup as Liverpool thrashed Dynamo Dresden 5-1. Hansen, as was the Liverpool tradition, was eased into the side gently, and was used sporadically in the first season, missing out on the defeat by Forest in the League Cup Final replay in 1978, but he was recalled for the European Cup Final that season and the first of many major honours was collected as Liverpool beat Bruges at Wembley.
The following season was the one where Alan established himself as first choice centre back after Emlyn Hughes was sold to Wolves, and he picked up the first of many league title medals at the end of the campaign. Another league title would be his the following season, and in 1981 the League Cup could be chalked off the things to win list due to victory over West Ham, the winner coming from Hansen.  Another European Cup was also added for good measure after Real Madrid were beaten in the final.

Another league title followed in 1982, and the club retained the League Cup, although they had to so without the injured Hansen. 1983 again would see the League and League Cup double be achieved by Hansen and his team mates, but they would go one better in 1984 as the league was won yet again, the League Cup won again for the fourth year running, and the little matter of another European Cup was added to the collection after Liverpool defeated Roma after a penalty shoot out.
The following season would end trophyless and in tragedy, as 39 Juventus fans lost their lives in the Heysel disaster. The fallout would see English clubs banned from European competition for several seasons, and this game would sadly be the last game in Europe for Alan Hansen.
After this game the manager Joe Fagan retired and Kenny Dalglish took over the reigns as player manager. One of the first things he did was to make Hansen the captain, and he was to lift both the League and FA Cup trophies in an historic achievement for the club. The addition of an FA Cup winners medal saw him complete the domestic set.
1987 would end trophyless, but Hansen would captain arguably the most skillful Liverpool side ever the following season as the League was won at a canter in 1988. Surprisingly the FA Cup final was lost to Wimbledon in one of the greatest upsets ever seen at Wembley.
Injuries would take their toll in 1989, and much of that season was missed, but Liverpool would go on to lift the FA Cup at the end of the most emotional of seasons following the Hillsborough disaster. The league title was also snatched away by Arsenal with the last kick of that season.
The knee problems persisted the following year, but he was still able to captain Liverpool to the league title, an eighth for him personally which was a record at the time.
The injury problems proved to be too much after that, and Alan retired in 1991 soon after the resignation of Kenny Dalglish.
Hansen surprisingly only made 26 appearances for Scotland. A number of reasons as to why it was such a low number have been given, but whatever the truth it was certainly Liverpool's gain.

I could try to describe what kind of player Alan Hansen was, but I can't compete with the words of the great Bob Paisley,

"Alan Hansen is the defender with the pedigree of an international striker. He is quite simply the most skillful centre-half I have ever seen in the British game. He is a joy to watch. Alan has always been an excellent footballer, a beautifully balanced player who carries the ball with control and grace. He has a very measured, long stride and is much faster than he looks. I can't think more than a couple of players who could beat him over 100 metres. He has both the ability and the patience to launch attacks from deep positions."


Manilla Vinilla

Tommy Smith

“He wasnae born, he was quarried”, said Shankly. “Tommy doesn’t tackle opponents, so much as break them down for resale as scrap”.

He’d made his debut at the age of 18. Just gone 20, he was selected as Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time. But his defining season was 1971.

In February 1970, a humiliating FA Cup defeat at Watford meant Shankly had to rebuild from scratch. Whilst many of the names from that season may appear familiar – Clemence, Heighway, Lindsay, Toshack, Lloyd, Hall – they were just starting out and needed an experienced hand on the tiller. Much of their careers depended on getting off to the right start. Unlike Phil Neal, Smithy didn’t have the luxury of a Terry Mac scampering on to his every pass. He had to carry the team himself.

Smith’s influence was evident from the first game, won at Burnley. “Tommy Smith led them well and the youngsters followed his fine example”, enthused Shankly. Trawling through the scrapbook of that season is a one-man eulogy. “There was Smith whose display was near perfection…” (Huddersfield), “Tommy Smith, of course, was the king pin...” (Newcastle), “…looked better and better the more he was subjected to pressure.” (Spurs).

Sometimes you just need somebody to hold things together in a crisis, to give youngsters confidence and the chance to bloom. After the semi-final victory over Everton, the Daily Post commented, “What a lucky young man Lloyd is to have a player like Smith alongside him!” A relatively weak and inexperienced side got to the Cup Final and finished a creditable 5th. Smith played a remarkable 61 games that season. The only thing that rotated was his knee-caps. They’re both made of plastic now.

With stability restored, it just needed a catalyst – and that arrived in the form of Kevin Keegan. Smith kept things steady at the back, Keegan provided the spark up front and the seven-year drought ended. Smith went on to captain the side as it won the League and its first European trophy.

He was tough. Jimmy Greaves will testify to that, when Smithy handed him the local hospital menu as they trotted out onto the pitch. But people forget how constructively he used to bring the ball out of defence. And he could take a fair penalty too. (Retired and dosed with pain-killers, he took a friendly penalty before the 1996 Cup Final – then found his disability payment reduced!).

He was still there at Rome in 1977 and his career climaxed with those immortal words, “Oh yes! And what a delighted scorer – it’s Tommy Smith!”

I wouldn’t like to go for a pint with Tommy Smith. From things he’s said, I don’t think I’d like him much as a person. But he’d be one of the first names on my sheet of all-time greats. He was the cornerstone of the modern period of Liverpool dominance. When things could have collapsed he stood up to be counted. Never could it be more accurately said – “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”



Ron Yeats

The date is 14th November 1939.The location is a cloud somewhere in heaven.
God and St Peter are mulling over a very long list of names written on golden parchment a thousand miles long. A list children to be born the following day.
They are following  a well worn routine of deciding what fate they will bestow on The Worlds newborn.
“I’m in an extra special mood today Peter…….I’m feeling especially omnipotent “ God tells his trusty sidekick. “I think that today will be one of my better ones”
St Peter smiles a knowing smile, and without looking  away from the list asks …” What do you have in mind  today boss?”
“Well I think that today I’ll pull out all the stops and show you what can be achieved  when you are on a roll”. “ I’m going to match up some of  the better Godly choices I have made over the years”
“ What letter are we up to Peter?”. “ We’re just starting with ’Y’ boss” says his Saintly assistant.
“What country are we working on ?” God asks. “ Scotland at the moment”
A wry smile falls over the Big mans face….”I have an idea Peter…..wait till’ you see this one”

Fast forward to 1959 on a wintry night in Dundee. A young up and coming football manager is casting his  eye over a prospective signing he feels will strengthen his fledgling team.

God and St Peter are sitting at the back of the stands. “ Is it time now boss “ asks St Peter. “ No, no, no …..not yet Peter. Have some patience. All will be revealed in time”, replies the smiling deity.

Fast forward 2 years to 1961. A warm summers  day at Anfield and the young football manager is holding court in front of an expectant press pack. He is about to unveil his latest prodige.
He tells the awaiting hacks “He is a Colossus……Come in and have a walk around him”

God and St Peter are sitting at the back of the stands again.
“Is it time now boss”
“Yes Peter………it’s time now”

So it was that that Ronald Yeats took his first steps to becoming a red legend and most respected and iconic figures in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
Yeats influence on the fortunes of our club cannot be overemphasised.
He was the bedrock of the Liverpool defence for 10 years and helped lay the foundations for all of the success that was to come at home and in Europe. Even if he wasn’t to be part of all of our greatest achievements , without him they wouldn’t have even existed.


I recall as a kid  on The Kop wall looking up at Yeats as he came over to retrieve a ball in the warm up. The ball was only feet away against the wall and over he strode. Being below pitch level emphasised the size of this man but all I know is that I had to crane my neck to see all of him.
The sight of Ron Yeats at close quarters in that all red kit was an awesome one. One that many opposition forwards would have sleepless nights thinking about.
Most centre halves of the day were typical of the era. Only a select few rose above that.
Yeats was one of them. Despite his impressive frame, he was more than just a stopper.
Saying that, if Ron Yeats tackled you…well you stayed tackled.

He had a real footballers brain and was extremely fast. His reading of the game, both in the air and on the floor was superb. Think of a combination of Carragher and  Hyypia with a smattering of Hansen.

‘Rowdy’ was fortunate and unfortunate to have been at the club at both the right and wrong times.
It took all of Shank’s powers of persuasion to convince the former slaughterhouse worker to join a club that was floundering in the 2nd Division. Thank God he did.
He was installed as captain as soon as he arrived, such were the leadership qualities that Shanks saw in him and he lifted Liverpool’s first trophy in 20 years when the reds were crowned Champions in 1964 and again in 1966.  


He was of course the first Liverpool captain to lift the F.A Cup. Something that must seem unbelievable to younger supporters.  


During a time when Liverpool’s teams were jam packed with strong men with sometimes stronger personalities. Ron Yeats was a dominant figure who earned the respect of every player under his stewardship.
He managed the marriage of being one of the lads with being club captain seamlessly.

I have never in all my years say a bad word about Ron Yeats which is testament to the esteem he is still held in.
His 10 year reign at the heart of our defence coincided with Shankly’s rebuilding of the team in 1970.
What could have been achieved at the club if Shanks had agreed to become Liverpool manager, when offered the position  in 1951 and being allowed to bring Yeats to the club years earlier.
Yeats was voted as number 29 of 100 Players Who Shook The Kop and was voted in as centre half of Shankly’s greatest ever team in 1999.


Dalglish brought Ron back to the club as Chief scout in 1986, where he remained until his retirement in 2006.
That’s a combined service of 30 years to Liverpool F.C.
Not to mention discovering a gangly centre half himself called Sami Hyypia.
Maybe there was devine intervention.
If ever there was a match made in heaven it was Ron Yeats and Liverpool Football Club.


It’s 2nd May 1965. 250,000 Liverpool fans pack the streets of Liverpool to welcome home the clubs first F.A Cup Winners.
Atop the Liver buildings , God and St Peter look down at the red hordes filling the old streets.


“ Is this what you had in mind all those years ago boss” asks St Peter.
God smiles another of his wry smiles “ No Peter……this is just the beginning”
“ Ever been to Istanbul Peter” asks God. “ No boss I haven’t.”
“We’ll go there one day Peter…..I have another idea”

                                                                                                 RON YEATS
                                                                                        Birthdate:  15.11.1937
                                                                                  Birthplace:  Aberdeen, Scotland
                                                                                       Bought from:  Dundee Utd
                                                                                    Signed :  £22000 22.07.1961
                                                                         International debut:  03.10.1964 vs. Wales
                                                                                        International caps:  2/0
                                                                                  Liverpool debut:  19.08.1961
                                                                                 League games/goals:  358 / 13
                                                                                Total LFC games/goals:  454 / 16

                                                                     1961-62 Football League Second Division Champions
                                                                     1963-64 Football League First Division Champions
                                                                              1964-65 Charity Shield (Shared)
                                                                                      1964-65 FA Cup
                                                                             1965-66 Charity Shield (Shared)
                                                                     1965-66 Football League First Division Champions
                                                                         1966-67 Charity Shield (Shared)

                                                                       Runner Up 1965-66 European Cup Winners Cup
                                                                              1968-69 Football League First Division


Sami Hyypia - by Robotforaday

The word impressed on my mind by Sami is - towering. Not just because he was tall. It was the way he seemed to loom above opposition defenders. He dwarfed the strikers who tried to faff around him, and when attacking at the other end, rising to meet a corner, he towered above everybody.  To see such a towering man trying to hide his tears as he played his last match at Anfield was a moving sight.

It's been said again and again that paying £2.6 million for Sami was a shrewd bit of business. Probably Houllier's best bit of business, and arguably the best value buy in football in the past couple of decades, at least. To understand what was so great about Hyypia, we have to go back in our minds to the defence of the mid to late 90s. Players like Kvarme - caught out by quick witted players, not able to read the game fast enough. Players like Ruddock - needing to rely on brute force to cover up for failings. Players like Babb. Players who needed to scramble. It was not a defence to inspire confidence. The installation of Hyypia - at first alongside Henchoz - changed this. Here was a player who could keep concentration throughout the game, and could keep his head. When the ball floated in dangerously, he rose to head it. And when he rose to get the ball, he was strong. Clash of the heads? No problem for him. Just clean up the wound and he's straight back on. He kept calm, and in doing so, he kept the team calm. A player who could read the game, who could position himself to deal with attacks even before they had begun. Okay, okay, so he didn't have pace. The amazing thing was that most of the time he didn't need the pace. He snuffed out the attacking moves before they had a chance to get one over on him. We now think of our defence as one of the best, if not the best, in Europe. Hyypia's arrival was the turning point. He is the foundation upon which our defensive wall has been built.

At times he was probably the best header of the ball in the team, and he could also be relied upon to add to our goal tally, particularly heading the ball in from corners.  But perhaps his best remembered goal won't be from the steady diet of headers - it will be the sweet volley against Juventus in 2005, piercing through a defence that had been thought of as watertight. Without that goal - well, it doesn't bear thinking about. He scored it and the rest is the stuff of legend.

A Liverpool captain through and through, even after Gerrard was handed the armband, he continued to play with dignity, a true leader on and off the pitch. Not only has he won almost everything you can win in club football - Champions League, UEFA Cup, Super cup, FA Cup, League Cup - he is the rock upon which these victories have been based. With the paper thin defence of the 90s, responding to threats too late, we wouldn't have won any of these things. Alongside Henchoz, alongside Carragher, he brought us stability. Its only a shame we couldn't have won the league for him.

Vote Hyypia - because he's worth it.



Emyln Hughes

I’m going to stick my neck out here and ask you not to watch the video at the end before you read this. Then you will understand what I am waffling on about.
No you are not mistaken, this is the section for centre-backs.
‘Crazy Horse‘…‘Emmer‘….‘Yozzer‘….‘Emlyn’. He almost had a nickname for each position he could play.
Centre-back, left back, centre midfield , right and left midfield.He could play them all like he was born for the position. Excellent in the air and as two footed as they come.
For those too young to have seen Emlyn play. Think of him as a latter day Steven Gerrard.
Some players suffer for their versatility, not Emlyn. In his case it was an asset. You would always find a place for ‘Yozzer’ in your side.


Wherever and whenever Emlyn Hughes played his enthusiasm and will to win shone through like a beacon. Shankly saw many of his own qualities in the gangly kid who he predicted  was ‘A future captain of England’.
That was one of the main reasons Shankly signed the 19 year old from Blackpool for £65,000 in 1967. Even though  the Barrow born youngster had played only 29 games for The Tangerines.
The prediction did come true as Emlyn went on to be Liverpool’s most capped player and England capt.


When I was jotting down my memories of Emlyn to do this, I was surprised by the fact that he made his debut for the Reds the year after I started going to the game. It surprised me because one of my earliest memories of going to the game was wearing a rosette nearly as big as my head which had a picture of Emlyn on it. Maybe it just seemed that he’d been there for ever.
It was my sisters rosette who was in love with Emlyn. Her love affair has never died. The rosette did however….ripped off in the sway of The Kop. She still has the replacement which unless she reads this  she wasn’t aware of. This is in fact the picture…..


When Shank’s started his re-building job at Liverpool , Hughes was at the heart of his thoughts. His incredible durability and versatility must have saved the club a fortune as he covered in many positions as Shanks tried to find the right players and the right blend to make the club a force again.

It’s worth remembering that Emlyn came into a side that although it was ageing, it contained many players that will go down in Liverpool fokelore. However trophies were very thin on the ground. As we hadn’t won the League for 2 years and expectations at Liverpool had become increasingly high.
Although Emlyn was a key member of the F.A Cup Final team of 1971 it would take until 1973 for another major trophy to find it’s way into the Anfield trophy cabinet.


It was the start of a period where Emlyn was involved in all of Liverpool’s glory for almost a decade. A period which saw the club establish itself  as the epitome of Shankly’s vision of a ‘Bastion of Invincibility’. It’s no exaggeration to say that Emlyn was at the centre of that revolution.

It’s an indication of Emlyns ability and the faith Shankly bestowed upon him when he was paired with Phil Thompson as our main centre-backs. Neither were the tallest but Shankly wanted a more European ball playing partnership that could also compete in the physical quagmire that was the English League. Emlyn was comfortable in any arena.


Emlyn’s place in our history was guaranteed even before he became not only the first Liverpool player to lift The European Cup but the first British player ever to lift it twice.
He went through his entire 12 years at Anfield without ever being asked to play in a reserve game.
Emlyn’s physique made him one of the toughest defenders to play against. It also protected him from the injuries his position attracted, allowing him to miss just three games in his first nine years at Anfield.


Some years back a gang of Reds were talking about different players and Emlyn came up. A mate of mine told how in a European game we were being taken apart down our right hand side by some tricky, speedy winger. The mists of time cloud out who he or the opposition were, but it could have been Eintracht Frankfurt. My mate was in the paddock and Emlyn was playing  as a left sided centre back. He’d had enough of this player and once he’d broken through again, Emlyn came right across the field and tackled the player by the paddock. My mate said it was the hardest tackle he’d ever seen. He said that grown men whinced as  Emlyn hit him. He won the ball cleanly, but hit him so hard you could hear the crunch of bone on muscle and all the air coming out of the players body, not only when he got hit, but when he also hit the paddock wall. He never bothered us after that.


So don’t for one minute think Emlyn was just some jovial, all smiling nice feller. He was ferocious when he needed to be. This was a player who would have died for the club and played every game as though his own life depended on it.
The biggest compliment I can pay him is that he had 2 things in common with Dalglish.
Just say his first name to any red and they will know who you mean then look at the joy on his face when he scored.

                                                                                                  EMLYN HUGHES

                                                                                       Born:                  Barrow, 28.8.47
                                                                                       Died:                  Sheffield, 9.11.04
                                                                                       Signed:                 Feb 1967
                                                                                       Transfer Fee:           £65,000
                                                                                       Games:               657
                                                                                        Goals:                   48
                                                                                     European Cup 76/77, 77/78
                                                                                     UEFA Cup 72/73, 75/76
                                                                       League Championship 72/73, 75/76, 76/77, 78/79
                                                                                                FA Cup 73/74
                                                                       The football writer's "Player of the Year " award 77
                                                                                        England Caps 62 (1 goal)


After the comments at the end of the video by Shankly I could have just left it there but I wanted to try and do justice to the man.
Emlyn Hughes did have it all.
I don't mind admitting that I look at that video with a tear in my eye and a shiver down my spine.
God Bless you Emlyn lad.



Stephane Henchoz

Stephane Henchoz joined Liverpool from Blackburn after a two year spell with the Rovers. Many were surprised with the club’s move for the central defender however these doubt clearly vanished when his partnership alongside Sami Hyypia proved to be one of, if not the best in the Premier League. The £3.5 million paid for his services proved to be a good bargain, especially after the treble winning season in 00/01.
During the summer transfer window of 1999, Liverpool signed 7 players, which included the likes of Smicer, Westerveld and Hyypia. Henchoz however was the last of these signings to make his LFC debut which eventually came in a 4-2 win against Hull City on the 21st September, 14 days after turning 25. He went on to be replaced by Jon Newby on the 75th minute of the League Cup 2nd round tie.
The Swiss international was known by his team mates as the quiet one. He was never in the limelight but was very effective on the pitch. He went about his business little fuss and was always there both mentally and physically. Phil Thompson said:
"If there's a block to be made in the area and you see a red shirt flying in to prevent a goal, you can be fairly sure it will have a no 2 on the back of it. Head, foot, whatever it takes to prevent a goal"

Henchoz never was one to shy away from a tackle and although his position required last ditch tackles, and one-on-one situations, he was never sent off during his Liverpool playing days. Good man marking, good knowledge of the game, and the Liverpool never-say-die attitude were some of the strengths that kept him in the side for five and a half years.

His spell at Liverpool was however to be marred by injuries which limited his playing opportunities during the last two seasons in a red shirt. With Gerard Houllier preferring Igor Biscan in the CD role, Henchoz’s playing days seemed to be coming to an end. However, when he did return in the squad for the 03-04 season, it was no surprise that Liverpool’s results started to improve after re-establishing his defensive partnership with Sami. Stephane still managed to make 205 appearances for the club, 135 of which came in the Premier League. His 200th game milestone came in a famous 1-0 victory away to Manchester United on the 24th April 2004. His last appearance in the Liverpool shirt came on the 1st December 2004 against Tottenham Hotspurs in the 5th round tie of the League Cup. The match finished 1-1, but Liverpool went on to win it 5-4 on penalties. Henchoz was the scorer of Liverpool’s first penalty and was only his second ever goal for Liverpool, following a pre-season friendly goal against Celtic in 2004.
With Benitez in charge, Henchoz was to become 3rd choice CD after Rafa switched Carragher to a CD to play alongside Hyypia. In the January transfer window, with the arrival of Mauricio Pellegrino, Henchoz was told he could leave the club and eventually joined Celtic. Gary McAllister had this to say on Stephane’s departure:

"I was only at Liverpool for a short period, just two seasons. But, during that time, Stephane Henchoz was an ever present in our back four and I got to know his game well. He was solid and consistent. He was not a spectacular player by any means. There are not many oohs and aahs from the crowd when Stephane is on the ball. But that is no bad thing for a defender.  He just does his job well and with the minimum of fuss. He doesn't get flustered, he doesn't make bad decisions, and he doesn't put a foot wrong. In fact, he is a bit of a rock. He is ice cool.

For some reason Stephane fell out of favour at Liverpool when the new manager came in. I can't understand it. The only reason I can think of is perhaps his age counted against him. Stephane is 30 now and maybe Benitez was looking for a younger player. But he hasn't brought anybody else in to replace him and he has pushed Jamie Carragher into his position in central defence. It doesn't make sense to me."

Henchoz once said: “I’ll do anything to stop the ball crossing the line” and this sums up the type of player he was. He gave everything when he put the Liverpool shirt on and that is all one can ask for from a Liverpool player. He was an example to all players around him with his excellent behaviour both on and off the pitch. A true Liverpool great.


Mark Lawrenson – my choice
If the question was which of the centre back’s in this list was the most versatile and adept in all positions then we could just about stop this vote now.

Mark Lawrenson would win hands down.

He was superb in either full back position, centre half and anywhere across the midfield. For our younger readers, think of a defensive  Steven  Gerrard, he was that good in all positions.

However, it was at centre back that Mark stood out and became a Liverpool legend.

Early days at Liverpool

He joined Liverpool in the summer of 1981 from Brighton  for £900,000 which was Liverpool’s record transfer fee at the time but why we asked ? Where was he going to play ?
We had just won the European Cup with the best pair of centre backs in the country in their prime.
Phil Thompson, an England regular and Liverpool Captain was 27, Alan Hansen, the most cultured and calm centre back of his generation was 26. What was Bob doing ?
Well as usual, Paisley was spot on.

Personally, I thought ‘Lawro’ had been signed to play left back ahead of Barney but his first appearance was as a sub for Ray Kennedy on the left of midfield.  He then had a few games at left back and generally filled in as a utility man for a lot of that season albeit he played in 39 out of 42 league games.
 Bob also tried 3 at the back at times to include all his star centre backs.
However,  as the 82/83 season wore on Lawro forged a partnership at the back with Alan Hansen which has to be the best  pair of footballing centre backs in the history of the game.


Lawrenson had the lot.

Good football brain , a fierce competitor and mentally tough evidenced by his performance at 52 in the recent Memorial game.

 He was strong in the air, good passer, great tackler and real pace, when I say pace, I mean pace.
Think of the quickest centre back we have now (probably Skrtel) and give him a 5 yard start over 25 and Lawro would have him comfortably . Forwards did not ever outrun him.
 In my view he would be the quickest of the 10 choices in this poll.

Effect on Tactics

Lawrenson’s  pace at the back allowed Paisley’s back 4  and midfield to push high and squeeze the opposition in their half and at a high tempo starting with Rush against the back 4. His pace allowed us to win the ball back high up the pitch and at times that great team suffocated sides.

If the opposition put the ball in behind and beat the offside trap, Lawrenson  especially  would be back.

Time and again you’d see Lawro making  great recovery tackles. In my mind he is the best defender I’ve seen for that aspect of the game. Pushing high and getting back in if the offside trap was broken.

If need be, and the game needed breaking up, he could stride into midfield and go all the way very comfortably. He had sound technique and confidence.

Impact at Liverpool

Lawrenson came to Liverpool when the League was very competitive.
There was  a very good  Ipswich side,  a strong Villa (then champions and about to be Euro Champs), Forest (twice European champions) and with  United and City both having plenty of money.
Liverpool would win the title 4 years out of the next 5 Lawro was fully fit including the only hat-trick of titles we won.
There were other great players but he was key.
In Rome in 1984 Lawro was superb at the heart of the defence and his composure in that cauldron was crucial as it was all the way through the European Cup that year.

A  few weeks before the 1985 final  Lawro dislocated  his shoulder and was effectively forced out. I think he played but came off very early. Whilst it doesn’t seem right to talk  of that night in footballing terms, had Lawrenson played it would have been a fair bet to say Boniek would not have got away down the middle of our defence such was his pace and reading.

As for his place in our best ever side. My first thought was he didn’t play for long enough but he clearly did. Over 332 games  in total and only 6 league games less than Souness who I feel may get in the midfield.

Liverpool were at their best during those 332 games and Mark Lawrenson was key to that from the moment he signed to the moment his Achilles went in 1987/88.
He would be a very worthy contender for any all time XI let alone Liverpool. His stats make pretty impressive reading. He was a winner.

Personal mention
We met him in a bar in Barcelona before the semi in 2001 and he was great. Really happy to talk openly about the then Liverpool side and the side he played in.
Came out with the best Souness analogy I’ve heard. We were talking about him and Kenny and how they basically ran training. I asked him about how good it was to play with them, his answer.” Kenny was unbelievable  but having Souness in the team was like having your big brother turn up on a park pitch, you knew everything would be ok.”
Notable moments

The “other one” when Rushie got his 4 at Goodison.
Taking Lineker out at Wembley.
His calmness in Rome.
Finishing Keegan, when he gave him a 10 yard start and caught him up when we drubbed the then rampant Geordies 4-0 in the Cup.
Won League titles 82,83,84, 86.88  Not bad in 7 years !
European Cup winner 84.
Runner up Heysel 85.
League Cup 82,83,84
FA Cup 86 in the double year.


The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society

Jamie Carragher.

Name: James Lee Duncan Carragher. He sounds like he could be 4 members of yet another Irish boyband but we can’t hold that against him :)

Honours: Let’s just say he’s missing two medals, one of which isn’t really worth the price of the metal it’s engraved on and the other he’ll pick up next season.

"Carragher is 10 times a better defender than I could ever be. He is a completely different player. He is a great defender whereas I was not. My strengths were on the ball, positional sense and recovery pace. The way he held Chelsea at bay was unbelievable. I'm sitting there in awe of how many times he intercepted, blocked and covered. I think if we look at Liverpool greats over the years - and there have been a lot of them - Carragher is up there with the best of them." Alan Hansen in May 2005
I’m not about to reel off a load of Carragher performances, we all know what kind of player Carragher is and we all know what he brings to the table, figuratively speaking on the football pitch... and besides I’ve got a shite memory :) I just want to give my personal impression of Jamie Carragher (no I didn’t know I did impressions either ::) )

If this poll was simply down to character then Jamie would probably piss it, even his recent outburst on Arbeloa appears to have been given managerial approval, but it is my belief that whatever I say here that Carra will at the very least still trail the likes of Hansen, Hyypia, Lawrensen and Yeats in the running for these two coveted spots in the RAWK all-time Liverpool XI. If Jamie manages to snatch 5th place in this poll then I’ll consider my job a successful one. There’s no shame in coming behind in a role call of such legendary proportions.

That may sound a tad defeatist but it really isn’t, for much of his career Jamie Carragher has not been given the praise he so rightly deserves so why would it be any different on RAWK? My cousin, a season ticket holder for well over 20 years and one of the most knowledgeable reds I know, the person 100% responsible for my colours being what they are today even criticised Jamie’s contribution to the team during the Houllier years, and he was always the one player the vast majority thought would be the first to go every season. I am proud to say I championed Jamie’s cause throughout this time and I felt the derision when I once announced to a couple of my Manc mates without any trace of irony that ‘Jamie Carragher is the best defender in the Premier League’. I meant it too, defensively speaking the man was a rock and there was no-one better.

Up until Ged’s final season though Jamie had spent the majority of his career at full-back, albeit extremely successfully and despite my protestations to the contrary I could see the limitations in Jamie’s game there; his reluctance to venture past the halfway line, his lack of goals and lack of contribution to our attacking play as a result of point one, whilst in reality that’s not what a defender’s there for and so I refused to believe he should be sold.

However when Rafael Benitez joined in 2004, his first signing was a £2.5 million right-back Josemi, with Steve Finnan already on the books and Stephane Henchoz to come back into the team I’m a little bit ashamed to admit I feared for Jamie’s future in the first eleven. I didn’t believe for a second that Stephane Henchoz, whose partnership with Sami Hyypia had been such a miserly combination for top flight strikers over the previous half a decade would be dropped so readily but that’s exactly what happened, Jamie had proved the doubters wrong yet again as Rafa partnered him with the towering Finn at the heart of defence, but it wasn’t simply a change of position it was complete overhaul of the tactics he was used to under Houllier, It’s a testament to Carragher’s intelligence in being able to adapt, seamlessly replacing the indefatigable Henchoz.

“For me Jamie is one of the best defenders in Europe. He is always focused on the game, always trying to learn. That is the key for me because each season he improves a little bit. He is always listening and that is one of the reasons he can keep improving. It is the same every training session, always working hard, always trying to improve. He reminds me of a hunting dog, when I want something specific done in defence he is very willing to learn. As a defender he is someone you do not want to play against, to have marking you.

He has a strong character. He is always shouting and talking to the others, such a key player for us. He is good for the young players, showing them what to do and how to play. Carra lets them know what is expected. It is so important, he puts people under pressure and that is really good for team spirit. Jamie is playing really well, for the last two seasons he has been a really key player for us.”Rafa on Jamie Carragher in March 2007
Y’see Jamie is cut from old school cloth; fearless, uncompromising, honest and hard-working. He belongs in the company of Emlyn Hughes, Gerry Byrne, Tommy Smith and Dirk Kuyt in the ‘a little ability coupled with a ton of heart’ category, leaders on the pitch with considerable influence, a never say die attitude and ludicrously consistent, a combination that makes for truly great memorable players, born winners and not unsurprisingly fan favourites.

Not only should JC stand a fighting chance in this poll he's also living proof that some of the unfairly maligned players of the 50s and 60s would have made it in todays game.


Mark Wright
Not willing to play outside the top division, as it would diminish his chances of international football, Wright joined Graeme Souness' Liverpool on 15 July 1991 for £2.5 million, just 4 days before team-mate Dean Saunders signed for the club.

He made his Liverpool debut a month later on 17 August in the 2-1 league victory over Oldham Athletic at Anfield. He settled in quickly at Liverpool in the daunting role as replacement for Liverpool legend and former captain Alan Hansen, a player Wright was sometimes likened to.

Wright scored his first goal for the club on 1 September 1992; his 61st-minute equaliser salvaged a point against his former club Southampton at Anfield.

Wright was a regular until his retirement on 1 August 1998 at the age of 35. During his time at Anfield he captained the side to the FA Cup final in which they beat Sunderland 2-0 in 1992 but missed out on the 2-1 Coca-Cola League Cup win over Bolton Wanderers through injury. Wright was a major influence on the mainly young Liverpool team that consisted of players like Jamie Redknapp, Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.

Under new boss Roy Evans, Wright struggled somewhat and was publicly criticized by Evans. He also started to pick up injuries which impeded his chances of winning over the Liverpool manager. He finally overcame the injury problems and came back into arguably the best form of his entire career, as evidenced by Terry Venables' decision to give Wright a surprising recall at international level. Unfortunately Wright suffered another injury setback, and wasn't able to take his place in the squad for Euro 96. Injury finally brought an end to Mark's career - during his time at Anfield he had made 210 appearances scoring 9 goals.


Remember 2 VOTES now.

:wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave :wave
So far.


Neal      CB      CB    Kennedy

One is a dead cert and the rest are personal opinon. 'D

stil can;t believe you let wright in ahead of larry lloyd, boooo :P

need to seriously think about this one.

The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society:
just book marking this so I can read it tomorrow, beddybyes now


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version