Arguably one of the finest strikers to grace the football field, in 1986, Kop hero Ian Rush agreed a deal to embark upon a fresh adventure in Italy with Juventus, for what was a British record transfer fee at the time, £3.2million.
Understandably, with English clubs suspended from European competitions at the time, the Welshman set out to conquer the world from Italian shores.
The player himself would later admit that Juventus was the “right club at the wrong time”. The transfer was met with immediate complications, as Italian clubs were restricted to a limit of just two foreign players in a starting XI.
Further events, including a recent recall from a loan spell at Lazio for Danish sensation Michael Laudrup, added to the news of Michel Platini delaying his retirement, meant a fearsome Rush was stuck at a crossroads.
Clear intentions from club chairman Giampiero Boniperti to field both Laudrup and Platini offered Rush little hope of regular playing time in Turin, and so even soon after arriving he was looking at escape plans.
Initially, a move to replace Laudrup on loan at Lazio seemed an option, before being abruptly taken out of the equation. Instead, in a quite remarkable turn of events, Rush was eventually loaned back to the Reds for the 1986/87 campaign.
A transfer that promised so much provided so little, as Rush was thrown into a Juventus side in transition, rapidly declining from the force they were in the build up to his arrival. Not long after the ruthless marksman signed for the club, the legendary Platini announced intentions to hang up his boots. Ageing stars and significant departures left a once dominant Juventus falling into ruin.
Through a major overhaul of talent, consisting of the likes of Zbigniew Boniek and Marco Tardelli, all of a sudden a star-studded side was beginning to evaporate and with rather decrepit players like Antonio Cabrini and Gaetano Scire remaining – both once World Cup winners – there was little for Rush to work with.
While it proved a tough challenge for the prolific forward, Sir Kenny Dalglish played a vital role in convincing ‘The Ghost’ to make a remarkable return to Anfield, which would cost around £2.7m.Embed from Getty Images
On his return to Merseyside, Rush was welcomed with open arms and, being known for his discrete method of approaching defenders, it would take little time for him to slip back into the side like he never left.
Quite simply phenomenal, the Reds were gifted the return of a striker who scored goals naturally, treating high-profile games like training matches. The FA Cup final against Everton in 1989 saw a trademark brace, before three years later scoring against Sunderland in a 2-0 win to become the most prolific forward in cup final history.
It took until 1992 for Rush to surpass the great Roger Hunt as Liverpool’s record scorer but, by the time of his retirement, there was no mistake as to who held the record.
A tally still yet to be matched of 346 goals will always be remembered regardless of future efforts – as will one of the finest players play in the Red shirt, Ian Rush.
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