Double agents: Seven men who played for Liverpool and Sheffield United

Ahead of Liverpool’s game against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Sunday night, BEN PAINTER looks at those who have represented both clubs.

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Sheffield United against Liverpool will be a contest between statistically the two most out-of-form sides in the Premier League. This has the recipes for an extremely drab game or an enthralling battle. Hopefully for the sake of everyone, the latter.

From the Reds point of view, with the Blades rock bottom of the Premier League, Klopp’s side have every opportunity to turn their fortunes around and pick up three points. There will surely go into the contest as favourites despite there dire form. However, with Chris Wilder’s side battling to stay in the division, this could signal a scrappy fixture with the winner separating themselves from the negativity that has recently surrounded each side.

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As with each sides form, Liverpool and Sheffield United share other similarities, with each side having employed players that have affiliations with both teams. Most recently, Rhian Brewster made the move from Anfield to Sheffield in a £25m move during the 2020 summer transfer window.

Now, ahead of the game on Sunday night, we look at the other players who have played for both sides:

Phil Thompson

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An Anfield legend who was a stalwart of the Reds team through the 70s and 80s, Thompson actually only played two clubs during his career. These – you guessed it – Liverpool and Sheffield United.

Thompson enjoyed 13 successful seasons with Liverpool between 1971 and 1984, winning nearly on Merseyside at club level. In his last season for the Reds, he only managed one appearance due to injuries and the emergence of Mark Lawrenson. With the defender now in the latter part of his career, he made the move to Sheffield United in 1985.

Thompson played 37 times for the Blades across two seasons in the Second Division, however he struggled to settle and retired at the relatively young age of 31.

He would re-join Liverpool as a first team coach and even have a spell as caretaker manager in the 2001/02 season, before moving into the media where he is known for his stint on Soccer Saturday.

Nigel Spackman

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Spackman started his career with Bournemouth in 1980 and moved to Chelsea in 1983, playing regularly with both clubs before eventually signing for the Reds in 1987.

The midfielder was mainly used as a sub, but found a starting role after an injury to Ronnie Whelan and he won many plaudits. But after falling out of favour again, he left for QPR in 1989, before moving again to gain regular game time at Rangers and a second stint at Chelsea.

Spackman would end his career with Sheffield United, signing for the Blades in 1996 and playing for two years before retiring – he even had a short spell as player-manager.

Ian Rush

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Ian Rush’s Liverpool career won’t need much explaining, but he started after a move from Chester City in 1980 and went on to become the Red’s all-time leading goal scorer across a couple of spells with the club; with a two stint at Juventus in-between.

Like Thompson, he had an extremely successful career on Merseyside, winning pretty much everything with Liverpool, before moving to Leeds in 1996 to start the final stages of his career.

Rush would then link up with former colleague and Newcastle manager Sir Kenny Dalgleish, but a certain Alan Shearer kept him out of the side. With a lack of game time, he would join Sheffield United on loan in the then First Division.

He played just four times for the Blades, failing to score on these occasions, before he went back to Tyneside. Upon release from Newcastle, he would have spells with Wrexham and Sydney Olympic before calling it a day at 38 years of age.


Dean Saunders

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Another Welsh striker, Saunders joined Liverpool in 1991 for a then English record fee of £2.9million from Derby County.

Saunders won the FA Cup and scored 23 goals in all competitions, partnering Rush as the spearhead of the Reds attack, but he left a year later for Aston Villa.

After time at Villa, Galatasaray and Nottingham Forest passed, the Welshman moved to Sheffield United for two years between 1997 and 1998, scoring 17 goals in 43 games in the First Division.

He went on to play for Benfica and Bradford City before retiring in 2001 at 37 years old.

Conor Coady

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A midfielder during his time at Liverpool, a boyhood fan at the club, Coady could not find a way into the side, only playing twice for the first team.

Looking for experience, Coady would make the move on loan to Sheffield United in League One – making a name for himself during his time at Bramall Lane – scoring six goals in 50 games. This impressive season prompted Championship side Huddersfield to sign him before further impressive displays saw him move to Wolverhampton a year later.

At the midlands team who would eventually become club captain and made the key decision to move into defence. The adjustment has proved extremely fruitful for the Scouser, as his personal successes correlated with the teams, as Wolves won promotion to the Premier League in 2018. Coady has since garnered a number of England caps to recognise his continued rise in the game.

Jack Robinson

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Like Coady, Robinson is a home grown Scouser, coming through the academy on Merseyside, but could never make the final step and hold down a permanent place in the Liverpool side. After just 11 games across four seasons, he would make the tough decision to move on and make the move to London.

He signed for QPR and then Nottingham Forest in the Championship, where his stock rose and caught the attention of newly promoted Premier League side Sheffield United, who purchased the defender in January 2020 as defensive cover.

Robinson is still at the Blades, but has only played 18 games at the time of writing, playing at centre back and left wing back for the Yorkshire side.

Ben Woodburn

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The current Liverpool forward broke into the Reds first team squad in 2016, making his debut at the age of 17 and subsequently became the Reds’ youngest ever goal scorer when he netted against Leeds in the FA Cup.

After failing to build upon this great start, he was loaned to Sheffield United in the Championship during the 2018/19 season but picked up an injury and was ultimately recalled after eight games at the club.

Woodburn career has continued to stutter in recent years as spells in the Under 23s – and on loan at Oxford and Blackpool – have ended prematurely with injuries once again damaging his game time.

Now at 21, Woodburn is back in the Under 23’s side under the guidance of Barry Lewtas. Hopefully, he can shrug of the consistent injury struggles and get some important game time, so he can have a chance of developing into a successful Liverpool player.

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