Player profile

Ray Houghton

Birthdate: 9 January 1962
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland
Other clubs: West Ham United (1979-82), Fulham (1982-85), Oxford United (1985-87), Aston Villa (1992-95), Crystal Palace (1995-97), Reading (1997-99), Stevenage Borough (1999-2000)
Bought from: Oxford United
Signed for LFC: £825,000, 19.10.1987
International debut: 26.03.1986 vs. Wales
International caps: Ireland 73/6 (34/3 at LFC) - 15.11.1997
Liverpool debut: 24.10.1987
Last appearance: 09.05.1992
Debut goal: 04.11.1987
Last goal: 26.02.1992
Contract expiry: 28.07.1992
Win ratio: 56.44% W: 114 D: 48 L: 40
Games/goals ratio: 5.32
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 13 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 153 / 28
Total LFC games/goals: 202 / 38

Player profile

Hurtful rejections shaped Houghton's early club and international career. West Ham let him go after only one game and u-18 Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh said he wasn't good enough for Scotland. Houghton went on to star for Ireland, as his father was born in Donegal. Houghton was born in Glasgow, but moved to London when he was ten. Houghton had a monumental international career with a strong Irish side. He scored two of the most important goals in Irish national team's history. He grabbed the winner in the sixth minute in the opening game in Group B between Ireland and England in the European Championships in 1988. He was the hero again in the group stages of the World Cup in 1994 when Ireland defeated Italy with Houghton's twelfth minute goal. Ireland reached last sixteen, one stage less than in 1990 when Houghton played in Ireland's all five games on the road to the quarter-finals in the World Cup before being knocked out by Italy. Second division Fulham snapped him up after West Ham rejected him in 1982 and he made 145 appearances and scored 21 goals in a four-year spell. Houghton won the League Cup in his first season at first division newcomers Oxford United, scoring one goal in the 3-0 win in the final against QPR. Oxford placed 18 out of 22 first division teams in the two full seasons the Glaswegian spent at the club. 

Houghton was the last player in the Dalglish jigsaw in the side that walked away with the title in 1987/88 while Oxford were relegated in bottom place. In the first home game of the season against Oxford Kenny Dalglish wrote in his diary: "I was impressed, and not for the first time, by Ray Houghton’s performance in Oxford’s midfield. He looks a fine player and is a good competitor." Six weeks later Dalglish bought him to Liverpool. Craig Johnston was the man who had to make way and Houghton made an immediate impact scoring in his second appearance against Wimbledon two minutes after coming on as substitute for Johnston at Plough Lane. Houghton was an industrious player whose energetic runs inspired others and a great team player. He suited Liverpool's style perfectly and was a vital cog in their machine. Houghton slotted in smoothly on the right side of midfield with John Barnes on the opposite side, Steve McMahon and Ronnie Whelan or Nigel Spackman in the engine room and up front Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge. Houghton was Liverpool's hero when his header knocked out Everton in his first Merseyside derby in the fifth round of the FA Cup at Goodison Park. A surprising defeat to Wimbledon in the final prevented another domestic double.

Houghton played 52 out of 53 games the following season as Liverpool lost the League title to Arsenal on the last day of the season. Liverpool reclaimed the title in 1990 but Houghton had an injury-hit season and featured in 50% of 50 matches played. Houghton featured more in the 1990/91 season but it was overshadowed by Dalglish's decision to quit Liverpool. Houghton was a key player in Souness' first full season, scoring a career-best 12 goals therefore making the Scotsman's decision to sell him to Aston Villa in the summer, at the age of thirty, all the more puzzling. Steve McManaman was emerging as a promising right-winger but Houghton still had a couple of good years in him and could have been easily accommodated elsewhere in the team. Another rash decision by Souness as a boss.

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals153271444202
1987-1988 28700035
1988-1989 38560352
1989-1990 19420025
1990-1991 32330139
1991-1992 36834051

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
13Arsenal
11QPR
11Nottingham Forest
10Southampton
10Manchester United
9Everton
8Luton Town
8Norwich City
8Coventry City
8Aston Villa
8Sheffield Wednesday
8Tottenham
7Wimbledon
7Chelsea
6Derby
6Manchester City
5West Ham United
4Millwall
4Crystal Palace
4Sheffield United
4Leeds United
3Newcastle United
3Stoke City
3Sunderland
3Charlton Athletic
3Crewe
2Auxerre
2Watford
2Blackburn Rovers
2Ipswich Town
2Bristol Rovers
2Portsmouth
2Middlesbrough
2Walsall
2Oldham Athletic
1Hull City
1Port Vale
1Oxford United
1Carlisle United
1Brentford
1Notts County
1Wigan Athletic
1Genoa
1Peterborough United
1Kuusysi Lahti
Total Started/substitutions
195 Started
8 On the bench
7 Substitute
9 Substituted

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals28432138
1987-1988 520007
1988-1989 700018
1989-1990 100001
1990-1991 7120010
1991-1992 8112012

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

TotalStarted/substitutions
37Started
1Substitute
TotalGoal minute period
21-15 minutes
516-30 minutes
931-45 minutes
346-60 minutes
1161-75 minutes
876-90 minutes
091-120
TotalOpen play/Penalty
38Open play
0Penalty

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
124.10.1987Luton TownKenilworth RoadLeague
5029.10.1988West Ham UnitedUpton ParkLeague
10023.12.1989Manchester UnitedAnfieldLeague
15006.05.1991Nottingham ForestCity GroundLeague
20026.04.1992Manchester UnitedAnfieldLeague

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
16204.11.1987WimbledonPlough LaneLeague

Related Articles

From Kenny Dalglish's diary

Dalglish praises Houghton's performance for Oxford against Liverpool five weeks before he was bought by Kenny.More

The Guardian's Small Talk: Ray Houghton

The former Liverpool and Republic of Ireland midfielder holds forth on Roxy Music, The Rockford Files and why he was one of the worst finishers of all time.More

Houghton steers the Red Avengers

Match report from The Times on 21.02.1988.More

Related Quotes

"At 13 I was about the best chess player of my age in Israel. I remember Ray Houghton used to play chess. He was playing one of the younger players on a pre-season tour when I asked if I could play the winner. Ray was convinced I didn’t understand the game and would only play if the loser bought dinner and drinks for the evening. I agreed and two minutes later Ray was forking out for dinner and drinks all round. That was my one and only game as none of the players were prepared to take me on after that."

Rosenthal tricked Ray Houghton

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
1987-1988 * Midfielder
1988-1989 * Midfielder
1989-1990 * Midfielder
1990-1991 * Midfielder
1991-1992 * Midfielder
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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