A player. A manager. A director. A figurehead – in both the best times and the bleakest. Sir Kenny Dalglish has given LFC – amongst others – so much, in so many ways over the years.
That his career’s astounding numbers only represent a portion of his impact, speaks volumes.
Born on March 4, 1951, in Dalmarnock, East Glasgow – close to Celtic’s Parkhead – he was largely brought up in the Milton area of the city, near Rangers’ training ground.
Despite being a supporter of the latter, he signed for Celtic as a 16-year-old in 1967. By the time of his £440,000 move to Anfield in 1977, he had played 322 games and scored 167 goals for The Bhoys. Alongside that, were four League titles, four Scottish Cups and a League Cup.
Over the course of his Liverpool playing career, he notched 172 goals in 515 appearances.
And then there were the trophies. When factoring in his two spells in the dugout – as player-manager from 1985 to 1991 and manager from 2011 to 2012 – he won eight First Division titles, five League Cups, three European Cups, one UEFA Super Cup and one FA Cup.
He was also FWA Footballer of the Year on two occasions (1979 and 1983) and PFA Player of the Year in 1983.
Factor in his time as Blackburn Rovers manager, and we can also add the 1995 Premier League title to the honours list.
That’s some going even before considering the 102 caps and 30 goals for Scotland. As already mentioned, though, his influence stretches far beyond even those achievements.
This was a player and a man who put so many smiles on so many faces, but was also at the forefront of the club’s responses to both the Heysel Stadium disaster of 1985 – as he was announced as Joe Fagan’s replacement in the dugout soon after – and the Hillsborough disaster of 1989.
He reportedly went on to ensure the club were represented at the funerals of all 96 Hillsborough victims – and attended a significant number himself.
Alongside his wife Marina, he was an immense source of support for families, friends and survivors in the immediate and long-term aftermath.Embed from Getty Images
It is a process that, understandably, is thought to have taken a considerable amount out of him and so many others over the years. He is rightly admired for his selfless, continued commitment in this regard.
On the pitch, too, he has proven a reassuring presence when most needed.
Following Roy Hodgson’s departure in January 2011, it was Kenny who the owners turned to to steady the ship.
Come May, he had guided Liverpool to sixth place and, in February 2012, he led them to League Cup glory against Cardiff City at Wembley – the club’s first trophy since 2006.
There were moments within this spell that could have been handled better – such as the response to Luis Suárez’s ban, following the Uruguayan’s alleged use of racist language towards Patrice Evra – but, when Brendan Rodgers took his place that May, Dalglish had ensured the Northern Irishman came in with significantly solidified foundations to build on.
He is someone who has lifted the club to its highest of highs and supported it resolutely through its darkest lows. That is what reflects the genuine range of his influence.
We see a solid summary of why Dalglish, the footballer, was so loved in two of his most iconic moments – the winner in the 1-0 1978 European Cup Final victory over Club Brugge and the title-clinching goal at Chelsea in 1986.
These were moments as big as they were classy.
After being put through by Graeme Souness in the 65th minute of that 1978 Wembley showpiece, he ensured ‘Ol’ Big Ears’ was retained with the coolest, most innovative of chipped finishes over advancing goalkeeper Birgir Jensen.Embed from Getty Images
Eight years later, on the final day of the First Division season, the player-manager seamlessly chested down and volleyed home Jim Beglin’s pass to secure part one of the club’s first league and FA Cup double.
These were quite the moments. Moments that were massive for the club. Moments that clearly displayed the talent Dalglish had shown since his days playing for a YMCA boys team in Glasgow and that had earned him trials – ultimately unsuccessful ones – at the likes of Liverpool as early as 1966.
The renaming of the Centenary Stand after him in October 2017, and the reception of his knighthood a little over 12 months later, are two further signals of the regard he is held in – not just in Liverpool and not just in football, but in wider society.
A non-executive director at Liverpool FC since October 2013, Sir Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish’s influence continues to be seen and felt throughout the club.
The sight of him applauding on the sidelines, as Mateusz Musiałowski celebrated his winner in Saturday’s u18 Merseyside derby, was simply the latest reminder.
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