Player profile

Steve Heighway

Steve Heighway

Birthdate: 25 November 1947
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Other clubs: Skelmersdale United (1966-70), Minnesota Kicks (1981)
Bought from: Skelmersdale United
Signed for LFC: April 1970
International debut: 23.09.1970 vs. Poland
International caps: 34/0 - 1981
Liverpool debut: 29.08.1970
Last appearance: 08.04.1981
Debut goal: 17.10.1970
Last goal: 11.11.1978
Contract expiry: 1981
Win ratio: 52.63% W:250 D:128 L:97
Games/goals ratio: 6.25
Honours: League Championship 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79; FA Cup 1974; European Cup 1977, 1978; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976
LFC league games/goals: 331 / 50
Total LFC games/goals: 475 / 76

Player profile

Heighway often took the “highway” up the left wing, riding tackles, showing perfect ball-control at breakneck speed, delivering great passes. He was one of the greatest entertainers who has ever graced the Liverpool shirt. Heighway was spotted playing for non-league Skelmersdale United by Bob Paisley’s sons, Graham and Robert. Bob sr. himself decided to have a look and was very impressed. “When I first saw him he almost took my breath away because he had “Star” written all over him and he was playing for Skelmersdale against South Liverpool,” Bob said. “I even told one of our coaches that here was the best amateur footballer I’d ever seen.” Heighway signed for Shankly’s Liverpool in May 1970 when he was 22-years-old. Like his teammate Brian Hall, Heighway was a University graduate, with a degree in Economics, a very different background to most professional sportsmen. The club had a fairly settled side at the start of the 1970/71 season as Shankly rebuilt his team. Bobby Graham broke his leg in the home match with Chelsea in early October and that was the start of a long run of success for Heighway as a Liverpool player for the rest of the 1970’s and into the 80’s.

Tommy Smith recalls one incident that showed Heighway could stand up for himself, even when facing the frightening Bill Shankly. “Shortly after Steve Heighway first joined we were at a meeting with Shanks. Now Steve in those days was still an amateur player in his mind as well as having a university degree, and he would take offence pretty quickly. He’s a great lad, terrific fella, but I remember a time when Shanks called him out for not helping a teammate in a situation where he could have helped. Shanks said: ‘Tell me, son, if your neighbour’s house was on fire what would you do?’ ‘Would you get a bucket of water and help him put it out, or would you watch it burn down?’ I don’t know how everybody kept a straight face, because Steve in his wisdom gets up and says, ‘Well, all I can say is till you ask me a serious question, I can’t answer.’ ‘If you ask me silly questions, all you’re going to get is silly answers.’ That knocked Shanks back on his heels and set the place rocking, I can tell you.”

The Dubliner had an unorthodox style and his pace caused many a problem for defenders. Heighway’s first chance to impress came in Gerry Byrne’s testimonial on 8 April 1970. Heighway confessed that the his new club was so unfamiliar to him that he had to ask when taking his position on the pitch which end the Kop was at. Lifelong Red, John Martin, remembers well his performance that day. "It was raining at 7 o’clock in the morning and it never stopped all day. A strange name appeared on the Liverpool teamsheet when the sides were announced. At outside left would appear not P. Thompson but S. Heighway. My seat was near the front of the Kemlyn Road Stand (now the Lower Centenary Stand) towards the Kop end so I was ideally placed to get a close up of our new man. The full back who was marking him was Jimmy Armfield who, although well past his best, was still a formidable opponent. The young Heighway ran him ragged and put over a succession of centres and other passes that had our forwards queuing up to convert them. It subsequently turned out that he wasn’t even on the club’s books at the time but Shankly wasted no time in tying him to a contract." Heighway turned one of the most memorable Merseyside derbies in history in November 1970 when, with Liverpool two goals down to the defending champions at Anfield, he received the ball out on the left-wing after a raking pass from Tommy Smith. Side-stepping John Hurst's attempt to cut him in half, he made his way into the penalty area and, with everyone expecting a cross, squeezed the ball past Andy Rankin at the near post. Seven minutes later his pin-point cross from the left landed on John Toshack's head and Liverpool were level. Chris Lawler scored the winner for the Reds a few minutes from time. Shankly's young side reached the FA Cup final that season and Heighway scored a similar goal past Bob Wilson but despite taking the lead, Liverpool suffered the heartbreak of an extra-time defeat to Arsenal. Like a number of his colleagues that day, Heighway would return to Wembley three years later as a winner and again he scored, this time against Newcastle. By then he was an established and important member of the side and had many caps as a regular international with the Republic of Ireland to add to the Championship and UEFA Cup medals he had won with Liverpool in 1973.

Heighway reached double figures three times as a goalscorer but his main role was to create numerous openings for players like Keegan and Toshack and later on for the likes of Dalglish, Johnson and Fairclough. Heighway added another UEFA Cup winners' medal in 1976 before being part of the team that won the greatest prize of all in Rome in 1977 and he added a second European Cup winner's medal a year later when he came on for Jimmy Case against Bruges at Wembley. He couldn't be absolutely sure of his place after that but still made 28 League appearances in 1978/79 as he collected the fourth of his First Division Championship medals. He was hardly called on at all during the next two years and left England for the United States in 1981 after playing 475 first-team matches in all competitions for Liverpool.

1981 was not a happy time for the popular Irishman who was affected by severe financial problems at his American club, Minnesota Kicks. After leaving Minnesota he featured for Philadelphia Fever in the Major Indoor Soccer League in the 1981/82 season. He liked living in the USA, developing his coaching skills on the staff of Umbro which led to a position at the Clearwater Chargers Youth Soccer Club where he pioneered the role of Director of Coaching in the United States. In 1989 Kenny Dalglish appointed Heighway to the key role of youth development officer at Anfield. He was at the forefront of Liverpool's School of Excellence and then the Academy, that was established in Kirkby in 1998, until his retirement in the summer of 2007. A number of Liverpool stars benefited from working with Heighway such as Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard.

Bob Paisley was Heighway's boss for seven years and couldn't praise him enough: "I've never seen a footballer move more gracefully than him. He should have been an Olympic athlete because he was so beautifully balanced."

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 331 36 38 67 3 475
1970-1971 33 7 2 7 0 49
1971-1972 40 2 3 4 1 50
1972-1973 38 4 8 12 0 62
1973-1974 36 6 6 4 0 52
1974-1975 35 2 4 4 1 46
1975-1976 39 2 2 11 0 54
1976-1977 39 7 2 9 1 58
1977-1978 28 1 8 9 0 46
1978-1979 28 5 1 3 0 37
1979-1980 9 0 1 1 0 11
1980-1981 6 0 1 3 0 10

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
23 Leeds United
21 Tottenham
20 West Ham United
20 Derby
19 Ipswich Town
19 Manchester City
19 Arsenal
18 Everton
17 Leicester City
17 WBA
16 Coventry City
15 Stoke City
15 Wolves
14 Newcastle United
14 Chelsea
14 Manchester United
11 Sheffield United
11 Burnley
11 Birmingham City
11 Norwich City
10 Nottingham Forest
10 Middlesbrough
9 QPR
8 Bristol City
8 Southampton
7 Aston Villa
7 Crystal Palace
6 Dyn. Dresden
5 Gladbach
4 Hibernian
4 Bayern Munich
4 Carlisle United
3 Bruges
3 Hull City
3 Sunderland
2 Huddersfield Town
2 Luton Town
2 Bolton Wanderers
2 Ferencvaros
2 Hamburg SV
2 Benfica
2 CSKA Sofia
2 Real Sociedad
2 Servette
2 Jeunesse d'Esch
2 Din. Bucharest
2 Frankfurt
2 AEK Athens
2 Dynamo Berlin
2 Red Star Belgrade
2 Strømsgodset
2 Doncaster Rovers
2 Barcelona
2 Crusaders
2 Trabzonspor
2 Saint-Étienne
2 Zurich
1 Mansfield Town
1 York City
1 Slask Wroclaw
1 Aldershot
1 Brentford
1 Southend
1 Swindon Town
1 Chesterfield
1 Dinamo Tbilisi
1 Anderlecht
1 Blackburn Rovers
1 Oldham Athletic
1 Blackpool
1 Swansea City
1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Total Started/substitutions
448 Started
30 On the bench
27 Substitute
48 Substituted
Total Competition
331 League
38 League Cup
36 FA Cup
26 European Cup
23 UEFA Cup
8 European Cup Winners Cup
7 European Fairs Cup
3 European Super Cup
3 Charity Shield

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 50 8 7 11 0 76
1970-1971 4 2 0 1 0 7
1971-1972 5 0 2 1 0 8
1972-1973 6 0 2 2 0 10
1973-1974 5 2 1 0 0 8
1974-1975 9 1 2 1 0 13
1975-1976 4 0 0 2 0 6
1976-1977 8 3 0 3 0 14
1977-1978 5 0 0 1 0 6
1978-1979 4 0 0 0 0 4
1979-1980 0 0 0 0 0 0
1980-1981 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
76 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
50 League
8 FA Cup
7 League Cup
4 UEFA Cup
4 European Cup
2 European Cup Winners Cup
1 European Fairs Cup
Total Goal minute period
8 1-15 minutes
16 16-30 minutes
9 31-45 minutes
17 61-75 minutes
15 76-90 minutes
1 91-120 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
76 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 29.08.1970 WBA The Hawthorns League
50 07.08.1971 Leicester City Filbert Street Other
100 12.08.1972 Manchester City Anfield League
150 17.03.1973 Stoke City Victoria Ground League
200 16.03.1974 Leeds United Anfield League
250 08.02.1975 Ipswich Town Anfield League
300 13.03.1976 Birmingham City St Andrews League
350 16.02.1977 Manchester United Old Trafford League
400 07.02.1978 Arsenal Anfield League Cup
450 31.03.1979 Manchester United Maine Road FA Cup

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 51 17.10.1970 Burnley Anfield League
50 12 08.11.1975 Manchester United Anfield League

Related Articles

Kicking off with a degree

Published in the Daily Mail on 7 December 1970.More

The Irish Kop

The Irish Kop is a tribute from the heart of Anfield to those amazing fans who go to incredible lengths to follow Liverpool FC. More

Departing Heighway hails ‘best ever’ side after FA Youth Cup win

An article by Chris Wright from Liverpool Daily Post on 27th April 2007.More

The wonder left wingers of Liverpool

John Martin talks about his favourite players on the left hand side of Liverpool throughout his years supporting the Reds.More

Liverpool's Academy Director Steve Heighway talks

An article by Chris Bascombe from Liverpool Echo on 11th of January 2007. More

It's right to cast net far and wide in the search for future stars

Liverpool Echo's DAVID PRENTICE talks to Liverpool Academy Director Steve Heighway in December 2005.More

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Skelmersdale United 1966-1970 Cheshire County League N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minnesota Kicks 1981-1982 NASL 26 4 26 4
Total 26 4 26 4
Back