Birthdate: 4 March 1951
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Other clubs: Player: Celtic (1967-77), Cumbernauld United (loan 1967-68). Manager: Blackburn Rovers (1991-95), Newcastle United (1997-98), Celtic (2000)
Bought from: Celtic
Signed for LFC: £440,000, 10.08.1977
International debut: 10.11.1971 vs. Belgium
International caps: 102/30 (55/14 at LFC) - 12.11.1986
Liverpool debut: 13.08.1977
Last appearance: 01.05.1990
Debut goal: 20.08.1977
Last goal: 18.04.1987
Contract expiry: 1990
Win ratio: 60% W: 309 D: 120 L: 86
Games/goals ratio: 2.99
LFC league games/goals: 355 / 118
Total LFC games/goals: 515 / 172
Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish was born in Dalmarnock in the east of Glasgow only a short distance from Celtic's Parkhead. But the family lived there only briefly and moved to an apartment house in Milton, which had a good view over the Rangers training ground. Dalglish’s supreme football talent was soon obvious in the YMCA boys team he played in. He was picked for the Scottish u-15 national team and played his first game against Northern Ireland and sealed the win with two goals. Dalglish was only 15-years-old when he played his first game in a Liverpool shirt. He was given a week-long trial and played one game with the B-team against Southport in a 1-0 win on 20 August 1966. "Liverpool wanted me to stay on a couple of days, but I told them that I needed a couple of days at home because I was going to West Ham for a trial at the weekend," Dalglish remembers. "The real reason was that Rangers were playing Celtic at Ibrox that night. I caught the train back up from Lime street and went straight to the match. I soon saw Shanks again. Liverpool's first team were due to play West Ham the same weekend as my trial. As I walked through to the player's area at Upton Park, Shanks came along in the other direction. I was overwhelmed with embarrassment. I couldn't speak to him. I just kept my head down and hurried past. I heard his voice shouting 'Kenny' 'Kenny', but I said to myself, just keep walking, just keep walking. I regret not talking to Shanks, but I was only 15 and very shy. If anybody spoke to me, I'd blush." Dalglish returned back home and Shankly contacted Celtic manager, Jock Stein, regularly but he didn’t want to sell him. Shankly always regretted that Liverpool didn’t buy Dalglish when he was handed to them on a silver platter. Former Liverpool player and Kenny's friend, Ian Ross said: "I remember meeting Shanks one day outside Anfield as I came back from training. He and Reuben Bennett were in Shanks' car. He wound the window down as I walked past. 'Hey, Ian!,' he shouted. 'We're off to Derby to see your pal playing in an u-23 international.' It was February 1972. Scotland drew 2-2 and Dalglish scored both goals. The next day, I saw Shankly, so I thought I would tease him a bit. 'How did you go on last night? How was Dalglish?' 'Don't talk to me about Dalglish.' 'The only man on the pitch.' 'Christ, what a player!'"
Despite Dalglish’s interest in joining his favourite team, Rangers, he accepted Celtic's offer in July 1967. Celtic had just become the first British team to win the European Cup and were widely known as the Lisbon Lions. Dalglish went on loan to Cumbernauld United that was one of the teams Celtic used to mould their players. Dalglish scored four goals in his first game and had scored 37 goals by the end of the season. Dalglish wanted to turn professional right away, but Stein wanted him to play another season with Cumbernauld. The kid held his ground and after asking his father to talk to Stein the boss caved in. Despite being surrounded with Celtic's brightest stars, Bobby Lennox said Dalglish had such class that he immediately fitted in with the rest of the squad. Lennox followed Dalglish's career closely. "At the peak of his powers with Liverpool, Kenny was the best player in the world. Zico was around then and he was outstanding, but Kenny had everything. Kenny played every game of football as if it was his last."
Dalglish played his first senior game for Celtic on 25 September 1968 when he was a second-half substitute in a 4-2 win over Hamilton Academical in the quarter-finals of the cup. He played with the reserves for the whole of 1968/69 but only managed four goals in 17 games. He was moved into midfield the next season and his performances improved. Stein put him in the first team against Raith Rovers on 4 October 1969 and Dalglish was a bit nervous as he recollects: "Bobby Murdoch sat down next to me while I was getting ready. He asked me whether I was nervous. 'No', I said, 'I am all right, Bobby, thanks.' 'Well,' he replied, 'you are putting your boots on the wrong feet.' I looked down and it was true. I had been tugging my right boot on my left foot. I sorted myself out and we won 7-1." Despite seven goals Dalglish didn’t get on the scoresheet and neither in the next three games he started in. The reserves on the other hand benefited from his goalscoring talent from midfield as he helped them to the league and cup double. Celtic's reserve side at the time was dominant and known as the "Quality Street Gang", named after "the chocolates", Dalglish explained. He scored 19 goals in 31 games, not bad for a midfielder.
Dalglish started the next season the same way his last ended and scored 23 goals when Celtic reserves crushed all of their opponents, scoring a total of 108 goals in 34 games. The highlight of his season came when the two Glasgow teams met in the reserve cup final. Dalglish scored one goal in the 4-1 win in the first leg but in the second leg he showed no mercy and scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win. Stein couldn’t be anything but impressed and picked him for the first team in a beneficiary game against Kilmarnock. Celtic won 7-2 and Dalglish scored six goals. It was obvious the boy had turned into a man.
"A wonderful player, such skill, so brave. Probably the best combination of goalscorer and goalmaker I've ever seen." - Dixie Dean
Dalglish was in Celtic's first team against Rangers in the league cup on 14 August 1971. In the seventieth minute Celtic got a penalty. The ball was thrown to Dalglish and the kid calmly walked to the spot, strolled back and started the run-up but stopped midway there and tied his shoelaces, went back and started the run-up again and scored into the opposite corner to the goalkeeper. The press was overwhelmed the next day: "He was so calm. It was like he was playing a practice match." Dalglish had scored his first goal for Celtic's first team and what a venue to do it on, at Ibrox, the ground he had once dreamed of playing regularly in Rangers' colours. Dalglish was though greatly disappointed when he played 90 minutes for Celtic who lost 4-1 to Partick Thistle in the league cup final on 23 October. Nobody gave Thistle a chance against mighty Celtic, but Thistle were 4-0 up after 36 minutes in front of 62,000 fans at Hampden Park. Dalglish scored Celtic's consolation goal. Further disappointment was to come when Inter Milan knocked out Celtic in the European Cup semi-final after a penalty shoot-out.
Celtic continued their domestic dominance by winning their seventh consecutive league title as well as beating Hibernian 6-1 in the Scottish cup final. Dalglish scored 23 goals in 49 games and one of the major newspapers in Scotland voted Dalglish "Player of the Season". He played his first senior game for the national team on 10 November 1971 in a 1-0 win over Belgium in a European Championship qualifier. Dalglish was a hero to the Celtic fans but he kept a low profile off the pitch. He occasionally went out on the town but preferred the company of his girlfriend, Marina, to his teammates. He still lived with his parents and didn’t own a sports car. He did though make an album with one of his Scotland teammates, Sandy Jardine. Songs from the album didn’t reach the top ten, but it did sell, even though they were kindly asked not to make another album! Celtic won the title again and Dalglish had his best-ever season at Celtic in terms of goalscoring as he scored no less 41 goals in 53 games!
"Clubs would need to start bidding in telephone numbers." - Celtic manager Jock Stein when asked how much Celtic would want for Kenny Dalglish a few years before he left for Liverpool
The 1973/74 season was the beginning of Celtic’s problems. The players' salaries were low and they were getting restless because they had some great offers from English teams. Despite the team being unsettled, Celtic won the title again and the Scottish cup. Celtic also reached the semi-finals of the European Cup, but lost to Atletico Madrid in an ill-tempered duel. Three Atletico players were sent off in the goalless first leg at Parkhead which Dalglish described as "without doubt the worst game I have ever played in as far as violence is concerned." Celtic lost 2-0 to Atletico in Madrid where ugly pre-game threats had tarnished the game. In the 1974/75 season Rangers ended Celtic's dominance in the league. Dalglish had been moved back to midfield orchestrating Celtic's play. The Scottish Sunday Express predicted that he would soon "become a midfield mastermind in the Cruyff mould, dictating play, making matches run to his pattern." Twenty-four-year-old Dalglish was made captain before the 1975/76 season, but the situation at Celtic got progressively worse when their manager, Jock Stein, got seriously injured in a car accident and had to rest throughout the season. The title was lost again, but Dalglish was voted the Player of the Year in Scotland by the Players' Association. Dalglish was becoming restless at Celtic but agreed to stay a bit longer, but the 1976/77 season was to be his last with Celtic. Jock Stein came back and Celtic retrieved the title and won the cup. Dalglish’s teammates weren’t surprised that he wanted to test pastures new. He had been the driving force of the team for the last three years and if he wanted to evolve as a player he had to leave. In his Celtic career Dalglish played 322 games and scored 167 goals. He won four League titles, four Scottish Cups, a League Cup and earned 47 Scotland caps.
Liverpool had just won the European Cup with a 3-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach but now they needed somebody to replace Kevin Keegan, who was leaving for Hamburg SV. Manchester United offered Dalglish more money but he preferred Liverpool. Paisley had contacted Jock Stein a year earlier when he heard that Dalglish wanted to go but Stein had said that he was going nowhere. Stein added that Paisley would be the first he would contact if he couldn’t talk Dalglish out of leaving. Stein kept his promise even though he was disappointed to be losing a player of his calibre. Liverpool initially offered £300,000. In the end Liverpool's offer had reached £400,000 after Stein had refused both £330,000 and £360,000. Stein still refused, but added that if Liverpool were to offer 10% more they would reach an agreement. Liverpool Chairman John Smith nodded his head and Liverpool agreed on £440,000 which was then the record transfer fee between two British clubs. There was no doubt in Dalglish's mind. Liverpool was the best team in Europe and Anfield was where he wanted to be: "Bob told John Smith he wanted me. Old Bob would just pick the players he wanted to bring to Anfield and John Smith and Peter Robinson would sort out the deals," Kenny said. "They were brilliant at deals. So I walked into the boardroom to meet my next employers. Bob was there as well because new players like to talk to the person who is going to be looking after them. They informed me that the two clubs had agreed a fee. We talked for a couple of minutes. After two years of wanting a move, it was all happening in minutes."
"When I was growing up my hero was Di Stefano. Kenny for me was on a par with Di Stefano. That is the best compliment I can pay him." - George Best
Bill Shankly couldn’t believe his ears when he heard that Celtic had allowed Dalglish to leave. "I understand that like Kevin Keegan, Dalglish wants to get on but I would have moved heaven and earth to keep him. I would rather have quit and got out of the game altogether than sold a player of his brilliance." Only three days later, on 13 August 1977, Dalglish played his first game for the Reds against Manchester United in the Charity Shield which finished in a goalless draw. The Liverpool fans were excited, but kept in mind that many good players had come from Scotland but hadn’t succeeded south of the border where the League is tougher. Dalglish’s teammates were not bad: Ray Clemence was the 'keeper, Phil Neal and Joey Jones full-backs, Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes central defenders, in front of them Ian Callaghan and Terry McDermott, Ray Kennedy and Steve Heighway on the wings and up front David Johnson and David Fairclough. Promising defender Alan Hansen waited for his chance in the first team. Dalglish’s League debut was away to Middlesbrough which included a young Scot named Souness. The Liverpool Echo described the action: "The first goal of the game came appropriately enough from the £440,000 feet of Kenny Dalglish, what a start for Liverpool's record buy. It stemmed from a lovely down the middle move as Case controlled the ball just inside the Boro half, flicked it through to McDermott who turned into the path of Dalglish. Boro looked for an offside decision which wasn't there and Dalglish strode smoothly on to beat Platt comfortably as the goalkeeper came out. It was a perfectly finished shot to a fine move and the Liverpool players enveloped Dalglish in their congratulations for his opener."
Three days later Dalglish made his home debut as he remembers vividly: "My Anfield debut came against Newcastle, who counted Tommy Craig, amongst their number. I had grown up with Wee Tam, playing Glasgow Schools, Scottish Schools and Scottish Youth with him. Before kick-off, I found Tam looking up at the sign that declares "This Is Anfield." 'How are you?,' he asked. 'I'm all right, I think,' I told Tam, 'but you see that sign there?' 'It's supposed to frighten the opposition. I'm terrified by it and it's my home ground.'" Fortunately for Kenny he settled his nerves by scoring the first goal of the game at the start of the second half. "The goal was at the Kop end and I nearly finished up in amongst them," Kenny said. "Their appreciation was magnificent. It really touched me. That was the start of the relationship between the Kop and me. It was a special relationship, hard to articulate how strong the bond was." Dalglish scored in his first four games and seven wins from 11 in the League meant Liverpool were second after 12 rounds, two points behind Nottingham Forest. Liverpool lost three League games in a row and their inconsistency killed any hope of winning the title. Paisley had strengthened in January by buying Souness who fitted seamlessly into the team and while the Reds were not in ideal form domestically they were clearly determined to defend their European title. The European Cup final was a fairy tale ending for Kenny's debut season. Halfway through the second half Souness' brilliant through-ball let in Dalglish who chipped the ball expertly into the net past the advancing Danish 'keeper, Birger Jensen. "Each of the two times Terry Mac ran through and shot low, Jensen dropped down to block the ball," Kenny said. "So when Graeme Souness played me in, Jensen came out as he had for Terry and I knew he was going to go down early. I dummied to play it, Jensen fell for it, allowing me the opening to lift the ball over the top of him. As the ball fell sweetly into the net, I continued my run, leaping the hoardings to go and salute the Liverpool supporters who seemed to have taken over Wembley." Liverpool had won the European Cup for the second consecutive year. Dalglish could be pleased with his first season at Anfield: 31 goals in 62 matches, League and League Cup runner-up and a European champion.
Liverpool started the 1978/79 season by scoring 35 goals and conceding only four in ten wins out of eleven League games. Dalglish had scored ten including a brace when Liverpool beat Tottenham 7-0 at Anfield which is still today considered one of the greatest games in the club's history. But, only two weeks later they lost 2-0 to the English champions, Nottingham Forest, in the first round of the European Cup followed by a goalless draw in the second leg at Anfield. An early exit for the double European champions. This shock didn't knock Liverpool out of their stride and from Christmas they only lost two games for the rest of the campaign; against Manchester United in a FA Cup semi-final replay and Aston Villa in the League. Dalglish wore the captain's armband briefly during the season as Emlyn Hughes was no longer a regular. The Scot, however, didn't feel comfortable as captain and Paisley appointed Phil Thompson in his place. Liverpool gained a record total of 68 points (two points for a win) and only conceded 16 goals, which was also a League record. Liverpool won the title with eight more points than the runners-up, Nottingham Forest. Dalglish scored 21 League goals and combined well with David Johnson, who scored 16 League goals.
Once more Bob Paisley's judgement of players hadn't failed him: "I'd seen Kenny playing for Scotland, watched him on television, and the more I saw of him the more I became convinced that he was what I called a Liverpool-type player. It was his attitude to the game. He wasn't flashy. He did the simple things and he was consistent too. He was rarely out through injury either. His timing was immaculate and his head ruled his feet." Dalglish had scored 56 goals in 116 games in his first two seasons at Liverpool and his contribution had won over the media that voted him Player of the Year in 1979.
"I have come to the conclusion that Kenny Dalglish has been put on this earth by God to be a winner at everything. I honestly believe he has been blessed." - Former Leeds and England manager Don Revie.
Liverpool dropped out of the European Cup in the first round as the season before, this time against Dinamo Tbilisi. Until then Liverpool had failed to gain any momentum, but remained unbeaten from 6 October until 19 January. Liverpool and United were neck and neck for the rest of the 1979/80 season until Liverpool clinched their second consecutive title with a 4-1 win at Aston Villa in the penultimate game of the season. Liverpool only managed fifth in 1980/81, their worst placing for ten years. Johnson and Dalglish weren't producing goals. Remarkably Dalglish had played 180 games in a row since joining Liverpool in August 1977 until he was out injured against Bradford City in the League Cup on 27 August 1980. Dalglish went 16 games without a League goal from late November to the end of the season. Liverpool did on the other hand reach the finals in the League Cup and the European Cup. Dalglish netted the first of two in the replayed League Cup final against West Ham. He started the European Cup final against Real Madrid even though he had been out injured since the second leg of the semi-final against Bayern in Munich. He played a little deeper in the second half, seeking to draw defenders so that maximum use could be made of McDermott's long runs deep into Real's defence. Alan Kennedy's goal secured another European Cup.
Dalglish failed to score in the first nine League games of the 1981/82 season but finally ended an 11 months' draught in the League against Brighton on 17 October 1981. Dalglish ended up with 13 goals in 42 matches, being ever-present in the League for the fourth time in five seasons. His new strike-partner, Ian Rush, scored 17 goals in 32 League matches as Liverpool recaptured the Championship. Dalglish was the architect of Liverpool's League win in 1982/83. Rushie benefited from playing upfront with him since many of his goals came after a brilliant pass from the Scot. Dalglish was voted Player of the Year by both the press and players.
Bob Paisley quit at the end of the 1982/83 season leaving Joe Fagan in charge. Dalglish reached a milestone in his Liverpool career on 26 November 1983 when he scored his hundredth League goal for the club with a fantastic shot into the top corner against Ipswich. He was the first player to score 100 League goals both north and south of the border with only two clubs. 1984 didn't start too well for Dalglish when Kevin Moran broke his cheek-bone with the support brace on his wrist in a game against Manchester United on 2 January. Souness said Dalglish looked like the Elephant man after the clash. Dalglish describes Joe Fagan's and his teammates' hospital visit: "When they walked in the door all their faces fell. When Mark Lawrenson saw my face he had to be taken to a side-room for a cup of tea. It didn’t bother me my face was a mess. When Joe came in with the players he obviously got a fright as well. ‘There’s the papers,' he said, 'I’ll leave them there.' 'I can’t stay, thanks, bye.'" Dalglish missed 14 games, but made his recovery in time for the quarter-finals of the European Cup against Benfica on 7 March. The last weekend in March proved to be a big one for Dalglish. The 33-year-old was pleasantly surprised to be offered a four-year contract and was included in the Team of the Year along with four of his teammates and played at Wembley. Liverpool and Everton drew 0-0 after extra-time in the League Cup final and won the replay.
The enigmatic Scot was busy smashing European records. Dalglish surpassed Denis Law's scoring record when he scored his fifteenth goal in the European Cup against Odense Boldklub in the second leg of the first round. He had now played more games, 54 in total, and scored more goals in Europe's premier competition than any other British player. Dalglish played in his third European Cup final, this time against Roma at their own turf. The game went into a penalty shoot-out, but Dalglish had by then been substituted since he couldn’t quite cope with the heat in Italy and was carrying a slight injury. Alan Kennedy was the hero like three years previously and scored the decisive penalty. Dalglish had won his third consecutive League title, fourth consecutive League Cup and the European Cup for the third time in seven years.
In 1984/85 Dalglish was dropped for the first time in his Liverpool career when Liverpool faced Tottenham in a live televised match on 12 October. Liverpool lost 1-0 and Fagan admitted it had been his most stupid decision as manager and put him straight back in the team. Dalglish missed more games after receiving a three-match ban for being sent off for the first time in his career against Benfica in Lisbon on 7 November. A week later he scored his thirtieth and final goal for Scotland in a game against Spain, equalling Denis Law's record. A great honour was bestowed upon him in the 1985 New Year Honours List when he was awarded an MBE for services to football.
The week before the European final against Juventus at the Heysel stadium Kenny received a phone call from Peter Robinson, Liverpool's Chief Executive, who asked if he and John Smith could pay him a visit. 'Yes, no problem,' was Dalglish’s reply. Dalglish describes the rest of the conversation in his autobiography: "I thought the conversation was going to finish then but Peter added: 'Don't you want to know what we want to see you for?' 'Yes,' I replied, 'if you want to tell me.' 'Well, we'd like to offer you the manager's job.' 'That's no problem, Peter, you can still come to the house.'"
Dalglish accepted the offer on the condition that Bob Paisley would be by his side for the first two years. Liverpool returned to England in the middle of a media frenzy after 39 people died at the Heysel stadium. Liverpool held a press conference later that day presenting Dalglish as the new boss. He couldn't have imagined worse circumstances as Liverpool were on their way out of Europe for the unforeseeable future. Smith told the gathering: "Kenny is entering the managerial side for the first time and we have every reason to believe he will have a successful period in office. We feel we have a man of great ability on the field who has got an old head on young shoulders." Dalglish admitted in his autobiography "My Liverpool Home" that he was rather tense towards the press on this fateful day. "My ability to handle the press was never a noted strength of my managerial career." 'You know nothing about football and I know nothing about journalism, so we should get on well,' Dalglish told bemused Ian Hargreaves at the Liverpool Echo. Once the press conference was over Dalglish found Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans in the Bootroom. "I said to Bugsy, 'You're staying aren't you?' Turning to Roy, I added, 'You're not going away?' Both shook their heads. 'You'll always have a job the two of you while I'm manager,'" said Dalglish as he ensured he had the backing of his trusted lieutenants.
"Kenny had unbelievable vision and strength as a player. He was really aware of people around him. He had great balance and was a good finisher, courageous too. People often forget that the one quality great players need is courage. Kenny is as brave as a lion. He would take a kick from anyone and come back for more. Kenny is a man I shall always respect." - Alex Ferguson
One of the most successful teams in Europe was banned from taking part in European competition for an undisclosed period and had lost the League title to neighbours Everton. Many questioned Liverpool's decision to make Dalglish the first player-manager in the English First Division. One of his closest friends, Souness, had said in an interview with Scottish journalist Gerry McNee the year before, that he had a feeling that the next manager of Liverpool would be Kenny Dalglish: "People are a bit frightened of him. He growls at them, he makes them jump." When Dalglish looked around the manager's office, his secretary, Sheila, who worked for all Liverpool managers from Paisley to Benítez, asked him if he wanted a new desk. Kenny describes the scene in his autobiography: "I looked around my new office and replied; 'This was Bob's desk, this was Joe's chair.' 'Why would I need new ones?' 'We are getting new office furniture.' 'Is it expensive?' 'Oh, yes,' Sheila replied, 'it's quite a few quid.' I said: 'Just put a bar in, Sheila.' So they installed a full-length bar, made of wood and formica."
Dalglish took over a successful team in the 1985/86 season, but in the first part of the season he had to replace the victorious full-backs of the Paisley era, Neal and Kennedy, with Steve Nicol and Jim Beglin. Dalglish made Jan Mølby his playmaker and signed midfield enforcer Steve McMahon from Aston Villa for £350,000 in September. Dalglish gave Craig Johnston and Paul Walsh a chance in his position. At the end of November Liverpool had reduced Manchester United's lead from nine to two points. Liverpool slipped up and when Dalglish the manager needed an inspiration for his side Dalglish the player came in handy! The 35-year-old's presence in team transformed Liverpool's form. Six wins in a row in the League set up a thrilling finish. In the final round at Stamford Bridge Dalglish controlled the ball on his chest and a moment later he wheeled away in celebration, just having secured the Championship with his brilliant goal. Seven days later Liverpool faced Everton at Wembley in the FA Cup final, going into half-time 1-0 down. "I remembered something Old Bob had told me: 'In times of trouble, the best way to get players' attention is to speak softly because they have to concentrate on what you're saying,'" Dalglish revealed. "Half-time in a Cup final with a group of shattered players slumped on chairs in front of me was not the moment for verbal fireworks." 'When we come back in here, I don't want any regrets. The FA Cup final is not a rehearsal,' Dalglish told his troops who secured the club's first League and Cup double by scoring three in the second half. Manager of the Year King Kenny really had the golden touch.
Dalglish knew it would be difficult to repeat this feat and by the turn of the year Liverpool trailed first-place Arsenal by nine points, in third. Liverpool took 1987 by storm and won nine of the first 11 League games and had by mid-March gained a few points' lead on Everton with Arsenal falling by the wayside. The Reds lost three League games in a row as well as the League Cup final to Arsenal. In the end Everton won the League Championship with a comfortable nine-point margin. Liverpool finished a season empty handed for only the third time in 15 years. Dalglish explained Liverpool's failure: "The Board had approached me at Christmas 1986 and said there was money available for players. I gave them the names of five players and I got four of them - Barnes, Beardsley, Houghton and Aldridge. It took time to buy these four. That was instrumental in 1986/87 being such a fruitless season at Anfield."
Key changes were made to the team as Rush departed with Aldridge replacing him in the middle benefiting from the service of John Barnes on the left and Peter Beardsley's link-up play. Kenny was developing his own team with a different identity than the ones governed by his predecessors. Paisley was no longer by his side and retired to the boardroom. Barnes was the new talisman making Liverpool a more potent attacking force. The Reds started the season with three away games as a collapsed sewer under the Kop needed repair. Liverpool ripped Coventry City apart following an opening day 2-1 win over Arsenal. The Times witnessed the power of Kenny's new army. "Over the years, the loss of Keegan, Souness, and, in effect, Dalglish, have each supplied excuses for backing someone else. But, somehow, they have nearly always plugged the gap. Such facts were overlooked at the start of this season and Rush's departure to Juventus. I have news for the non-believers: 'Liverpool are dead, long live Liverpool'." Liverpool was on a rampage netting four goals in four consecutive League games; against Newcastle, Derby, Portsmouth and Queens Park Rangers. Aldridge thrived up front, having scored in ten League games in a row, still a Liverpool record. The Reds' fear factor was overwhelming opponents, even QPR who led the First Division by three points, having played two more games than the Reds, before their clash at Anfield on 17 October. When Rangers' manager, Jim Smith, was asked how his team had prepared for the match he quipped: "We got down on our knees and prayed." QPR lost 4-0 to an astonishing double from Barnes. One interested spectator at his old turf was Ian Rush. "They are a better team than when I left them behind," Rushie said. "Barnes has so much skill and he livens up the game. He scored two great goals and took the limelight away from Beardsley, who works so hard and makes openings for other people. With wingers, Liverpool have given themselves even more options and their opponents just don't know where to look."
"Liverpool practiced small-sided games every day and it was high-intensity stuff. We used to do a very light warm-up, jog around the field a couple of times to loosen the limbs, do a few stretches, put the cones down for goals and then go into five-a-side or eight -a-side. It was the same every single day. There was no tactical work, none whatsoever. All the strategic stuff was done within the small sided games. Liverpool believed that everything we faced in five-a-sides would be encountered again on match day. That was why the five-a-sides were so competitive. Liverpool’s training characterised Liverpool’s play – uncomplicated but devastatingly effective." - John Barnes
On 28 December Liverpool netted a quadruple against Newcastle for a second time that season and the Times waxed lyrical. "Visiting Anfield is like stepping back in time. Yesterday the gates were closed 50 minutes before kick-off. Stanley Park car park had the 'full' notices up 75 minutes beforehand - and both the style of football and the size of the excited audience, 44,647, recalled the game's halcyon days." From 19 December 1987 to 16 March 1988 Liverpool conceded one goal and scored 31 in 15 games in all competitions! Everton prevented Liverpool from improving Leeds' record from 1974 of 29 League games unbeaten when Wayne Clarke netted the only goal of the game at Goodison on 20 March. Nottingham Forest inflicted a second League defeat on Liverpool on 2 April in the first game in a series of three between the sides in a space of 11 days. Liverpool beat Forest 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final and then annihilated Brian Clough's men at Anfield 5-0 in a showcase of all the talent on offer at Liverpool that Sir Tom Finney claimed "was the finest exhibition I've seen the whole time I've played and watched the game." Maurice Roworth, the Forest Chairman was mesmerised: "Liverpool are the best team in Europe, which is why they are not in Europe. They are too good." Captain Alan Hansen was proud of his men and said the performance was the "best since I've been here." High praise indeed from the Scotsman who was playing his 564th game for the Reds. Nine points separated Liverpool and second-placed Manchester United at the end of this dazzling campaign. The only blot on the landscape was a surprising 1-0 defeat to Wimbledon in the FA Cup final which prevented a second double in just two years.
Dalglish had got it right when signing players during the summer. Aldridge scored 29 goals in 45 games, Beardsley scored 18 in 48 games and John Barnes scored 17 in 48 and was voted the Player of the Year by both the media and the players. It didn’t come as a surprise that Dalglish was voted the Manager of the Year. Liverpool won the title in style and the way they played reflected their manager. This team played a more offensive football than the previous teams and was more about individual play of great players even though the team spirit was high. This was Kenny Dalglish’s team.
On 18 August, two days before Liverpool played Wimbledon in the Charity Shield, the press was stunned; Kenny Dalglish had just announced that Ian Rush had returned to Liverpool. The excitement before the season was great and the fans wondered how he was going to use Barnes, Beardsley, Aldridge and Rush in the same side. On 26 October Liverpool suffered their third defeat of the season, one more than all of the season before. After ten League rounds Liverpool were fourth, eight points behind Norwich. Aldridge had only scored seven goals compared to 20 the year before, Barnes six, Rush five and Beardsley four. Following a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United on New Years' Day Dalglish locked his side inside the dressing room and what followed was a verbal attack of a calibre that none of his players had seen before. Dalglish's outburst worked like a charm as his team went undefeated in the next 18 League matches, of which 15 were won.
In the semi-finals of the FA Cup against Nottingham Forest football got a whole new meaning for Kenny Dalglish. This was the third time Dalglish had witnessed a tragedy in a football stadium. When he was in the Celtic squad at the age of nineteen, 66 died at Ibrox, 39 died at Heysel and 96 Liverpool supporters died from injuries received at Hillsborough. The press and the supporters saw a new side to Dalglish as he united the club and city in their grief. As Dalglish visited the bedside of victims of the disaster at North General Hospital in Sheffield he saw 14-year-old Lee Nichol hooked up to a life support machine. "I stared at him, not understanding why somebody without a mark or a bruise on him could be clinically dead. It just didn't make sense. The medical experts said this is what happens with asphyxiation. The brain becomes starved of oxygen and just cuts out." Lee became Hillsborough's ninety-fifth victim. Hillsborough was Lee's first away game. During the same visit one boy woke up from a coma when a doctor told him Kenny Dalglish was by his bed. The harrowing scenes Dalglish witnessed at Hillsborough and in its aftermath and the care he showed to the victims' families without seeking help to deal with the mental anguish he was experiencing came back to haunt him. Liverpool were rushed to action by the Football Association for the replay. Symbolically the Reds faced the Blues in the final on an emotional day. Kenny's old mate, Rush, proved to be worth his weight in gold, ensuring a 3-2 win.
The last League game was between the two top teams at Anfield. Liverpool had 76 points but Arsenal 73. The goal difference for Liverpool was 65-26 (+39) but Arsenal's 71-36 (+35). A two-goal win in favour of Arsenal would win them the League Championship. In the final minute Michael Thomas scored Arsenal's second that grabbed the title away from the hosts. Liverpool had been 45 seconds away from a second double. "I once watched a clip of that Michael Thomas goal and heard that great commentator Brian Moore say: 'Dalglish just stands there.' I did. The shock froze me on the spot. I was numb, the fuel gauge empty as dejection set in," Dalglish said.
"Kenny’s transition to manager was so smooth. He was amazing because he combined being your mate and being your boss at the same time. Not many more managers could pull that off and it was tricky sometimes because you didn’t know if he was talking to you as a mate or a boss. Having said that, he used to always have a go at me more anyway. I was his whipping boy." - Gary Gillespie
Come mid-October 1989 Liverpool had only lost one game for the past seven months, which was, crucially, the title decider in May. Crystal Palace had been beaten 9-0 as Liverpool broke the record for the most goals scored by one team in a match in the top league. Liverpool's form proved to be far less convincing for the rest of the season. Liverpool had a one-point lead when the Israeli Ronny Rosenthal came on loan from Standard Liege in Belgium. He scored seven goals in eight games and the Reds won their eighteenth League title and Dalglish was Manager of the Year for the third time in five years. He hadn’t picked himself for the team on a regular basis since October 1986 and made his last-ever appearance when he came on against Derby in the penultimate game of the season. One of the greatest players in the history of football had retired after playing a total of 837 games and as the most successful player in the history of the British Isles.
Before Dalglish went on his summer holiday he was brought in for discussions by Chairman Noel White and Peter Robinson over a new contract. 'I need a break,' Dalglish told the surprised executives. Another meeting was held in which Dalglish wanted shares in the club instead of outright payment if he signed a new deal, as he wasn't sure about his future at the club. Robinson told him that was not possible. 'Get yourself a good holiday.' 'You'll be fine for the start of the season,' were Robinson's parting words to Kenny.
It's fair to say that the press went over the top in their critique of Dalglish and his team in the 1990/91 season. Kenny was criticised left, right and centre. His team was getting old, his new signing, Jimmy Carter, didn't bed-in, Liverpool were too defensive and Dalglish himself was called boring, miserable and sulky. By 9 February 1991 following a 3-1 win over Everton in the League Liverpool had a three-point lead on Arsenal at the top of the table. The Reds had scored 62 goals in 24 games, 2.58 on average, hardly the performance of a team frightened to attack. Liverpool were to meet the Blues again, in the sixth round of the FA Cup. A goalless draw at Anfield forced a replay at Goodison Park. Liverpool took the lead three times, but Tony Cottee equalised one minute from normal time. In extra-time Liverpool were in front once more, but another goal from Cottee in the 113th minute meant a second replay had to take place. Dalglish told reporters: "if there has ever been any better cup-ties than that, then I wish that someone would send me a video of them. I have never been involved in a game like that before." The press didn't know that Dalglish had already come to the conclusion that this would be his last game as manager of Liverpool Football Club.
"Five hours before kick-off in the FA Cup fourth round derby at Everton, I made up my mind. Whatever happened at Goodison, I would tell the Chairman I had to go," Dalglish revealed. "The pressure was too much. Driving home after games, I was nipping away at my kids Kelly and Paul. The atmosphere at home wasn’t good and I was to blame. I was a mess. The previous December, I’d come out in big red blotches all over my body. I went to the office Christmas party covered in blemishes. To ease the rash, Liverpool’s doctor pumped me with Piriton at Anfield every other day, alternating the cheeks on my backside, so in a fortnight I felt like a pin cushion. As Piriton made me drowsy, I’d fall through my front door then slump into a deep sleep on the couch for hours. My nerves were shredded long before February 20, 1991."
The next morning Dalglish attended a meeting that was held every month with White and Robinson. Twenty minutes in Dalglish stunned them into silence by saying: 'I want to resign.' 'Why?,' asked White finally. 'I’ve had enough. I need a break. I just feel as if my head is exploding.' 'I want to go now.' Today.' Robinson offered him a sabbatical but Kenny had made his mind up. At 4pm Liverpool held an emergency Board meeting at which they reluctantly accepted his resignation and shortly after 11am on 22 February 1991 White said to the disbelieving press: 'Thank you for coming on such short notice. I’m going to read a short statement: With great regret I have to say that Kenny Dalglish has requested to the Board of Liverpool to resign as manager.' A little while later at the Lime Street train station in Liverpool the announcer read the typical announcements about the delays of the trains but added apologetically: "Kenny Dalglish has resigned as Liverpool manager, I just thought you’d like to know that."
Dalglish admitted later that he would have returned to work at Liverpool at the end of the summer. "If Liverpool had asked me to carry on as manager the moment I returned from Florida, I’d have jumped at the chance because my batteries were recharged. Sadly, they never asked. While in Orlando, I received a phone call to tell me Graeme Souness had got the job and I felt a twinge of regret."
Eight months later after leaving Liverpool, Dalglish was back in football as the manager of Blackburn Rovers. Dalglish led Rovers to the newly-formed Premier League and in April 1993 Peter Robinson hinted at Kenny returning when he met him at Ewood Park as he picked up his tickets for the Blackburn - Liverpool game the following day. 'Kenny, when are you coming home?' Robinson asked. 'What do you mean?' Dalglish responded. 'When are you coming back to Liverpool, Kenny?'
'Peter, you just have to ask.' 'Ok,’ he said. 'It’s up to yourselves,’ Kenny added. ‘You just need to phone.’ Kenny waited for a call that never came. Prior to the 1994/95 season Dalglish rejected a new contract at Blackburn, hoping that Liverpool would come calling, which did happen while Kenny was on holiday. 'We just want to know whether you would be interested in coming back to the club,' Robinson said over the phone. 'Of course I am interested,' Kenny replied.’ "I couldn’t pack fast enough, jumping on a plane and, once back in England, hurtling up to David Moores’ house," Dalglish said in "My Liverpool Home". "PBR [Robinson], Roy Evans, Tom Saunders and David were already there. Scarcely had I sat down when Peter announced, 'We don’t think the time’s right for you to come home.' I was taken aback. 'Why phone me and ask me to come back if you don’t think the time’s right?’ I was furious. ‘I want to come back to Liverpool. I wouldn’t be sitting here now otherwise.' 'I did a good job the first time.' Liverpool’s logic baffled me then, and still does now. Never before in all my life have I felt such anger. My stomach was churning as I got in the car and sped off to Anfield, of all places, because Paul was playing some game for Liverpool reserves." Dalglish signed a new contract at Rovers and ironically on a memorable afternoon back at Anfield in the middle of May 1995 when, despite losing 2-1 to Liverpool on the day, Rovers were crowned English champions. Shortly after that success, Kenny became Blackburn's Director of Football with Ray Harford replacing him as team manager. It was not a successful move. The team's performances at home and abroad started to decline and eventually Kenny left Blackburn 'by mutual consent'.
In the middle of January 1997 Dalglish was unveiled as Newcastle United's new manager. He steered the North-East club to become runners-up in the Premier League in 1997; and also took them to an FA Cup final the following year. But the real success he had enjoyed at Liverpool and Blackburn was elusive and after starting the 1998/99 season with draws in the opening two League matches, Dalglish was replaced by Ruud Gullit. Kenny became Glasgow Celtic's Director of Football in June 1999 with John Barnes appointed at the same time as head coach. But Barnes was sacked in February 2000 and Kenny took over the manager's responsibilities and guided the Celts to a Scottish league cup final success over Aberdeen. Despite that trophy, Kenny himself was soon replaced as manager by Martin O'Neill. But the way his contract was terminated led to a short legal battle, at the end of which Dalglish accepted Celtic's settlement offer.
Dalglish was inevitably linked with many managerial posts during the first decade of a new millennium. But it seemed nothing could tempt him back into the game that had become his life. Twenty years after the Hillsborough disaster, Kenny spoke openly about that day and its aftermath in a frank television interview. He also spoke at the Memorial Service at Anfield in April 2009. It was clear that Liverpool's supporters admired, respected and loved him as much as they had when he had been player and manager. On 3 July 2009 the club officially announced Kenny's return to Anfield, where he was said to "assume a senior role at the Liverpool Academy and will also act as a Club ambassador working with the commercial side of the business around the world." Dalglish was asked to help the club find a replacement for Rafael Benítez as manager. Despite wanting the post himself, the job eventually went to Roy Hodgson. But a wretched start to the Premier League season saw the Reds in the unfamiliar territory of the relegation-zone after losing at home to Blackpool in October. When results failed to improve, Hodgson left the club and Kenny was appointed on 8 January 2011 to replace him until the end of the 2010/11 season. After successfully leading Liverpool from the bottom half of the table to challenging for a spot in the Europa League Dalglish was appointed long-term manager on 12 May, signing a three-year contract. Coach Steve Clarke, who arrived not long after Dalglish, also signed a three-year contract. John Henry, Liverpool's new principal owner thankfully recognised Dalglish's importance to the club: "Kenny is a legendary Liverpool figure both as a supremely gifted footballer and successful manager. Since returning in January he has shown extraordinary leadership and the ability to bring the best out of so many people associated with the club. It was obvious to us very early on that the atmosphere surrounding the club had been transformed by his presence. No-one else could have produced such a response. We didn’t need nor want to look elsewhere for the right man to manage the team.” Dalglish was back at the helm for real now: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to help build something special here again. I want to salute the efforts of all the players as they have been fantastic and thank everyone at the club for the welcome they have given me since I returned in January. I also want to pay tribute to Steve Clarke’s input since we started working together as he has brought great experience and knowledge to the role. The players enjoy the training sessions, understand their relevance to our actual football games and have responded brilliantly.” King Kenny's smile lit up Anfield and the fans' faces once again and most importantly Liverpool had reclaimed its long-lost identity!
Despite winning Liverpool's first trophy for six years, the League Cup, and coming close to a cup double in the FA Cup Dalglish was sacked following his first full season after Liverpool's worst League campaign since the start of the Premier League. Liverpool Managing Director, Ian Ayre, said even though it was difficult to let Kenny go the reason was simple. "If you don't believe the results are right and feel 37 points off the champions and 17 points off Champions League pace is a long distance you have to make a change," Ayre said bluntly. "The history the club was built on was about success and that means success in the league, which leads to Champions League football, and also winning trophies. No-one is saying we didn't enjoy winning the Carling Cup and getting to the FA Cup final but ultimately the backbone of football now is the Premier League and European football at the highest level."
Dalglish had always been a role model as a player. Sean Fallon who told Celtic about the boy listed Dalglish’s main qualities:
1) He was equally at ease with his left and right foot.
2) He had incredible confidence.
3) He had good balance. He jumped out of tackles and kept the ball.
4) He was always positive.
6) A model professional. He took good care of himself, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, went to bed early and pushed himself in practice.
Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley both consider King Kenny to be the best player who has ever worn the Liverpool shirt. Paisley said: "Of all the players I have played alongside, managed and coached in more than forty years at Anfield, he is the most talented. When Kenny shines, the whole team is illuminated."