Player profile

Ray Clemence

Ray Clemence

Birthdate: 5 August 1948
Birthplace: Skegness, England
Other clubs: Scunthorpe United (1965-67), St George (loan 1978), Tottenham Hotspur (1981-88)
Bought from: Scunthorpe United
Signed for LFC: £18,000, 24.06.1967
International debut: 15.11.1972 vs. Wales
International caps: 61/0 (56/0 at LFC) - 16.11.1983
Liverpool debut: 25.09.1968
Last appearance: 27.05.1981
Contract expiry: 15.08.1981
Win ratio: 54.89% W:365 D:177 L:123
Honours: League Championship 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80; FA Cup 1974; League Cup 1981; European Cup 1977, 1978, 1981; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 16 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 470 / 0
Total LFC games/goals: 665 / 0

Player profile

Clemence was a fresh faced 18-year-old at Scunthorpe United when Bill Shankly brought him to Anfield in June 1967. Despite his young age he had still made 46 appearances for the third division club. Shankly even told him Lawrence was over the hill and he would be in the team inside six months to convince him to join. Clemence had to serve a two and half years' frustrating apprenticeship in the reserves apart from being selected for a League Cup tie against Swansea in September 1968. Clemence's second and third game came one year after his debut but he could hardly showcase his talent as Liverpool conquered Dundalk 10-0 and 4-0 in the European Fairs Cup. As the 60s moved into the 70s, Shankly was starting to break up the team which had brought him so much success and Clemence was given his full League debut at Nottingham Forest on the last day of January 1970. Tommy Lawrence's last appearance for the club was in an awful FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Watford the next month and seven days later Clemence was one of a number of changes made for the visit of Derby County and he had established himself firmly as first-choice 'keeper by the end of that season. Clemence only missed six League matches in the next 11 years! 

In the 1970/71 season Clemence only conceded 22 goals in 41 First Division matches, a record which was surpassed in 1978/79 when just 16 goals were conceded, with Clemence an ever-present for the sixth time. It was no coincidence Liverpool were the best team, they had the best defence: Clemence, Neal, Kennedy, Thompson and Hansen. Clemence kept 28 clean sheets and only conceded four goals at Anfield in 21 games! His positional sense and quick reactions led to England caps galore and his tally would have been even higher had Peter Shilton not been around at the same time. One of very few players over the whole continent to have won three European cup winners' medals, Clemence's crucial save from Stielike when the Rome final in 1977 was tensely balanced at 1-1 helped Liverpool achieve perhaps the most memorable result in the club's long and illustrious history. Just as important saves in the Anfield quarter-final with Saint-Etienne in the same season had paved the way for that first success in Europe's premier club competition and his penalty save from Jupp Heynckes prevented Liverpool from losing the 1973 UEFA Cup final on the away goals rule. Another brilliant save from  a spot-kick at Dresden in the UEFA tournament three years later also prevented a quarter-final exit and the Reds went on to win the cup that year as well. What is not remembered so well but what was just as vital to all the success the club enjoyed during the 1970's was Clemence's remarkable consistency and athleticism which turned many a draw into a victory and many potential defeats into draws and wins. 

Clemence's final game for Liverpool was appropriately on the sort of grand stage to which he had become accustomed and he kept a clean sheet as Real Madrid were beaten by Alan Kennedy's late strike in Paris as Liverpool and Clemence lifted their third European Cup. It was a shock for Liverpool's management as well as fans when Clemence, who was approaching his thirty-third birthday, declared he wanted to leave the club as newcomer Bruce Grobbelaar staked a claim to the number one jersey. Some claimed Clemence was running scared as he felt threatened by Grobbelaar, but Clemence says nothing could be further from the truth. "At the start of my career, I had Tommy Lawrence underneath me once I got into the side so I had the pressure of him. Frankie Lane came from Tranmere, McDonnell came from Oldham, Ogrizovic came from Chesterfield so I always had somebody putting pressure on me and that was part of Liverpool's way getting you to play well was always having somebody to threaten your position. Therefore you always had to play well. Bruce was no different to any other goalkeeper I had underneath me before."

Clemence moved to Tottenham and his first competitive match against his former teammates was at Wembley where, despite his heroics, Liverpool retained the League Cup by three goals to one. Clemence enjoyed a new lease of life at Tottenham, playing almost until he was 40 and eventually making over 1000 appearances in total in his fantastic career. Clemence played 336 games without missing a single match from 9 September 1972 until 4 March 1978. Only two players have made more first-team appearances for the club; Ian Callaghan and Jamie Carragher. In Clemence's distinguished career at Liverpool he kept 323 clean sheets in 665 appearances. A few weeks after joining Tottenham, he travelled to Anfield with Liverpool needing a win to secure their thirteenth League Championship. As Clemence ran towards the Kop goal at the start of the second half he received a fantastic ovation from the crowd. "The first half I was playing at the Anfield Road end and they were still chanting: 'England's number one to me' so that was nice. I could never have envisaged when I came out at half-time and ran down to the Kop, the reception I would get. The whole stadium stood up and every single one in the Kop. It's probably the most emotional I have ever been at a football ground. It definitely brought a lump to my throat because I could not believe the reception from them. It was just one of the best moments you could possibly have."

Since retiring from playing in 1988 Clemence has had coaching roles at Spurs, managed Barnet from 1994 to 1996 and been part of the England set up, overseeing youth development. He retired from his FA role in 2013 but still occasionally does media work.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 470 54 55 80 6 665
1967-1968 0 0 0 0 0 0
1968-1969 0 0 1 0 0 1
1969-1970 14 1 0 2 0 17
1970-1971 41 7 3 10 0 61
1971-1972 42 3 3 4 1 53
1972-1973 41 4 7 12 0 64
1973-1974 42 9 6 4 0 61
1974-1975 42 2 4 4 1 53
1975-1976 42 2 3 12 0 59
1976-1977 42 8 2 9 1 62
1977-1978 40 1 9 9 1 60
1978-1979 42 7 1 3 0 53
1979-1980 41 8 7 2 1 59
1980-1981 41 2 9 9 1 62

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
31 Arsenal
29 Leeds United
27 Everton
27 Tottenham
26 Ipswich Town
25 Manchester City
24 Coventry City
24 West Ham United
24 Manchester United
22 Wolves
21 Derby
20 WBA
19 Nottingham Forest
19 Stoke City
19 Leicester City
18 Southampton
17 Birmingham City
17 Newcastle United
17 Chelsea
17 Norwich City
16 Middlesbrough
13 Burnley
13 Crystal Palace
12 QPR
12 Aston Villa
11 Sheffield United
11 Bristol City
6 Sunderland
6 Bayern Munich
6 Carlisle United
6 Dyn. Dresden
5 Gladbach
4 Ferencvaros
4 Hibernian
4 Brighton & Hove Albion
4 Huddersfield Town
4 Bolton Wanderers
3 Hull City
3 Bruges
2 Hamburg SV
2 Benfica
2 Tranmere Rovers
2 Dinamo Tbilisi
2 Bradford City
2 Oulu Palloseura
2 Aberdeen
2 CSKA Sofia
2 Southend
2 Swindon Town
2 Din. Bucharest
2 Slask Wroclaw
2 Barcelona
2 Crusaders
2 Trabzonspor
2 Saint-Étienne
2 Zurich
2 Servette
2 Frankfurt
2 AEK Athens
2 Dynamo Berlin
2 Red Star Belgrade
2 Strømsgodset
2 Doncaster Rovers
2 Mansfield Town
2 Dundalk
2 Wrexham
2 Swansea City
2 Luton Town
2 Blackpool
2 Jeunesse d'Esch
2 Real Sociedad
1 Brentford
1 Blackburn Rovers
1 Oldham Athletic
1 Bury
1 Sheffield Wednesday
1 Portsmouth
1 Anderlecht
1 York City
1 Oxford United
1 Aldershot
1 Chesterfield
1 Exeter City
1 Grimsby Town
1 Altrincham
1 Real Madrid
Total Started/substitutions
665 Started
11 On the bench
0 Substitute
0 Substituted
Total Competition
470 League
55 League Cup
54 FA Cup
33 European Cup
24 UEFA Cup
12 European Fairs Cup
8 European Cup Winners Cup
6 Charity Shield
3 European Super Cup

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 25.09.1968 Swansea Town Anfield League Cup
50 02.01.1971 Aldershot Anfield FA Cup
100 27.10.1971 West Ham United Upton Park League Cup
150 21.10.1972 Stoke City Anfield League
200 04.09.1973 Derby Anfield League
250 12.04.1974 Manchester City Maine Road League
300 08.03.1975 Burnley Turf Moor League
350 18.02.1976 Manchester United Old Trafford League
400 08.01.1977 Crystal Palace Anfield FA Cup
450 05.11.1977 Aston Villa Anfield League
500 23.09.1978 WBA The Hawthorns League
550 04.09.1979 Tranmere Rovers Anfield League Cup
600 28.04.1980 Arsenal Villa Park FA Cup
650 14.03.1981 West Ham United Wembley League Cup

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Ray Clemence - Liverpool's finest keeper

LFChistory met Ray Clemence on his birthday for an exclusive interview about his Liverpool career and the obstacles that life puts in front of you. More

Shankly tricked Ray Clemence into signing for Liverpool

Bill Shankly convinced Ray Clemence that the first team's goalkeeper's position would be his and his only soon after his arrival. A slight exaggeration on Shankly's part.More

Clemence wants to leave

Daily Express news article from 8 June 1981.More

Related Quotes

"It’s never easy as a goalkeeper at 19, but there’s an old adage that it doesn’t matter about your age if you’re good enough. I was younger than Scott is now when I came to Liverpool from Scunthorpe. I think I was 18 when I had my first game in the first team. Then I had to wait a year or two before I became a regular."

Clemence commenting on Carson and his own career

"He was a wonderful man and we got on very well. He was the best one-on-one keeper around, how he dealt with those situations was an education ad he was the first “sweeper-keeper”. It was frustrating, but I was playing in an excellent reserve side that had won the Central League six out of seven years."

Clemence on waiting for a place in the first team because of Tommy Lawrence

"Trabzonspor in 1977 was the worst European trip. The pitch had rocks all over it. The hotel was awful, we were woken by the noise of farm animals at 5am, the food was terrible and we lost 1-0."

Ray Clemence on his worst European experience

"The final in Rome was was one of the best ever European Cup finals. We met our wives back at the hotel after the match and there was one heck of a party, especially when they let the fans in. After the first few beers I don’t remember much about the celebrations. Some of us didn’t go to bed that night. I kept going until the breakfast bar opened the next day."

Clemence on the 1977 European Cup final

"He’s a nicely-built lad, with one or two mannerisms, and maybe a wee bit cocky. But we’re getting him in plenty of time to work on him."

Shankly on Clemence

"The Spurs fans were already toasting their victory when Ronnie Whelan popped up and whipped his goal in to equalize in the dying seconds. It took a good player to do that because Ray Clemence was still a great goalkeeper, he’d kept Spurs in the game.

Paisley would not let us sit down before extra time started. He was bellowing: ‘Get up off your feet, don’t them let them see you are tired.’ It stemmed from Shankly, who would never let an opponent see that you were weak. After that, we felt we had it in the bag."

Phil Neal on the 1982 Milk Cup final vs. Tottenham

"Sometimes I feel I'm hardly wanted in this Liverpool team. If I get two or three saves to make I've had a busy day."

Ray Clemence

"Ray was one of the best goalkeepers I have ever seen. He is in England's top three alongside Gordon Banks and Peter Shilton. No one dominated the box as well as Clem. He made things look easy which is the sign of a top keeper. Ray was one of those people who was really enthusiastic in training. He always wanted people to take shots at him. He defied you to try and put the ball in the net. That's the sign of someone who was always on top of the job and confident in his own ability."

Ian Callaghan on Ray Clemence

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Scunthorpe United 1965-1966 England Third Division 4 0 4 0
Scunthorpe United 1966-1967 England Third Division 44 0 46 0
St George 1978-1979 Phillips Soccer League (Australia) 2 0 2 0
Tottenham 1981-1982 England First Division 38 0 62 0
Tottenham 1982-1983 England First Division 41 0 54 0
Tottenham 1983-1984 England First Division 26 0 37 0
Tottenham 1984-1985 England First Division 42 0 58 0
Tottenham 1985-1986 England First Division 42 0 58 0
Tottenham 1986-1987 England First Division 40 0 55 2
Tottenham 1987-1988 England First Division 11 0 13 0
Total 290 0 389 2
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