Sunday, 3 August 2008

My Liverpool FC Top Players

On Sunday’s ‘Something for the Weekend’ John Barnes – one of chef Simon Rimmer’s top five Liverpool players – was a guest. He is (broadly speaking) a neighbour of ours and one of a few famous faces that can occasionally be seen around Heswall. When you come across him shopping his public persona is not different to that seen on television – a homely, pleasant, polite and affable chap. Like Simon Rimmer I would immediately name him as one of my top five Liverpool players of all-time.
My top five Liverpool players would be Steven Gerrard, Billy Liddell, Roger Hunt, John Barnes, Robbie Fowler, Ian Rush, Paul Ince, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Kevin Keegan. O.K. that is ten but I was never very good at decisions (I’m a Libran!). After a little bit more thought I’ll knock out the last four and leave myself with Gerrard, Liddell, Hunt, Barnes, Fowler and Rush.

Billy Liddell’s sons were in the year below me at prep school and so he was my firsts ever Liverpool hero. He was also Liverpool’s oldest goal scorer being 38 years and 55 days when he scored his last goal for the team on 5th March 1960. He played for Liverpool from 1938-1961.

Roger Hunt was the attractive goal scoring hero of my school days and still holds the record for the most league goals – 245 – and most hat-tricks in a season – 5. He was Liverpool’s top scorer for eight straight seasons and a key, goalscoring member of the 1966 England World Cup-winning team.. He played for Liverpool from 1958-1969.

Ian Rush could not really be left out of any Liverpool top five. His scoring records include - most first-team goals - 346; most goals in a season - 47 (during the 1983–84 season); most FA Cup goals - 39; and most League Cup goals - 48. He played for Liverpool from 1980–1996.

John Barnes, like Gerrard, was the key player in the team for a number of years and while he doesn’t appear on the top of many statistics it should be noted that in the 1990 title winning side he scored an amazing 22 league goals from the left wing. Liverpool striking legend, and colleague, Ian Rush also had a great season but managed 4 fewer league goals than Barnes which puts the feat into context. An England International, Barnes gained a total of 79 full caps scoring 11 goals. Barnes's England performances will be remembered most for his fantastic individual goal against Brazil in June 1984 despite being targeted by the National Front who booed his every touch of the ball. He played for Liverpool from 1987-1997.

Robbie Fowler is another striker who does not appear on the top of many statistical charts apart from scoring the fastest hat-trick for the team - 4 minutes, 32 seconds, against Arsenal. Nevertheless, his prolific goalscoring and the fact that he was born and bred in Toxteth were bound to make him any Liverpool supporter’s favourite. He scored when he made his first-team debut in Liverpool's win in a Coca Cola Cup tie at Fulham on 22 September 1993. Two week's later he scored all five goals in the second leg at Anfield, making him the fourth player in Liverpool's history to score five in a senior fixture. He played for Liverpool from 1993–2001 and again from 2006–2007.

Steven Gerrard has been the linchpin of the team’s success for many seasons. Gerrard is another Merseysider born and bred, coming from Knowsley. He wears the number 8 shirt. He is Liverpool’s leading European goalscorer, During his career he has won the PFA Young Player of the Year, PFA Player of the Year, European Midfielder of the year, Premier League Most Valuable Player (twice), and UEFA Most Valuable Player. He has also been awarded the MBE for his contributions in both the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2006 FA Cup Final in which he inspired his team's comeback. He was voted by fans as the Nationwide England Player of the Year for 2007. He has played for Liverpool since 1998.

I hate leaving out Kevin Keegan who scored two of the goals in the 1974 F A Cup Final win (3-0) against Newcastle United – the only Final to which I have been. He wore the Liverpool No 7 shirt from 1971-1977.

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