Birthdate: 28 August 1947
Birthplace: Barrow-in-Furness, England
Date of death: 9 November 2004
Other clubs: Blackpool (1964-67), Wolverhampton Wanderers (1979-81), Rotherham United (1981-83), Hull City (1983), Mansfield Town (1983), Swansea City (1983)
Bought from: Blackpool
Signed for LFC: £65,000, 27.02.1967
International debut: 05.11.1969 vs. Netherlands
International caps: 62/1 (59/1 at LFC) - 24.05.1980
Liverpool debut: 04.03.1967
Last appearance: 04.04.1979
Debut goal: 26.08.1967
Last goal: 19.12.1978
Contract expiry: 02.08.1979
Win ratio: 53.08% W:353 D:179 L:133
Honours: League Championship 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79; FA Cup 1974; European Cup 1977, 1978; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976; FWA Footballer of the Year 1977
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 6 / 1
LFC league games/goals: 474 / 35
Total LFC games/goals: 665 / 49
Player profileHughes was one of the most enthusiastic players ever to pull on a Liverpool jersey, fiercely strong and with immense stamina. Shanks saw Hughes play in one of his first games for Blackpool and offered £25,000 for him immediately. Blackpool were not keen on selling him but manager Ron Suart promised Liverpool first refusal if Hughes ever became available. Shankly phoned Hughes every Sunday morning to tell him he'd be a Liverpool player soon. "I'd be just about to make short work of a plate of eggs, bacon and black pudding when the phone would ring. It would be Shanks," Hughes said. 'Hey, Emlyn, son, don't eat that stuff you've got on your plate there. I'll be signing you shortly. I want you lean and hungry, son. Lean and hungry!' Today, thirty years later, I still associate the smell of bacon frying with the telephone ringing at 8.30 sharp on a Sunday morning." Legendary Blackpool player and journalist Jimmy Armfield interviewed the young Emlyn when he had been a professional footballer for 12 months and was very impressed by his dedication. "This boy, Emlyn Hughes, is a first class example of how all young lads should set about learning the game at professional level. He knows that there is a big difference between being a schoolboy star and playing professionally and is willing to learn from every source of advice open to him. He really lives for football and doesn't complain about the rigid self-discipline he has had to impose upon himself in his private life away from the ground. All the best players have started like that, and, most important, have kept it up all their playing days. To get to the top you cannot do the job half-heartedly."
When Suart was sacked in February 1967 Liverpool knew they had to react quickly. Suart wasted no time in serving as an intermediary between Shankly and Hughes contacting his former player the day after his sacking to advise him to join Liverpool. Shankly finally got his man but for a considerably higher fee of £65,000. Hughes recalls the most important day of his career in an interview with Shankly.com in 1999: "We had to get to Lytham St Anne's to complete the signing so I could play straight away in Liverpool's next match and Shanks drove us both down there. It's only about ten minutes from Bloomfield Road, but he was the worst driver in the world. He had this old brown Corsair and just as we left the ground he half went through a set of lights and a woman shunted into the back of us and smashed all the lights in. Next thing, a police car flags us down and the young officer comes up to the car and Shanks winds down the window. 'What is it officer?,' he asked, 'I'm sorry sir you can't continue the journey in that car as you've got no lights.' said the policeman. 'Do you know who's in this car?,' said Shanks, and I thought he was doing the old 'do you know who I am routine.' 'No', said the officer, 'I don't recognise you.' 'No not me you fool,' he said, 'I've got the future captain of England alongside me.'"
Shanks threw Hughes straight into the side and he played ten first division games before the end of that 1966/67 season, mostly at left-back. The Kop took him quickly to their hearts and he got the nickname "Crazy Horse" after he rugby-tackled Newcastle's forward Albert Bennett, who was slipping through his grasp, in his fifth game for Liverpool. Hughes revealed in his autobiography that Shanks had inspired him to do something special in this game: "Shanks took me to one side and said, 'The crowd are looking for a new name to take to. They need a new hero after the sixties side. They want someone to take over as their own. Go out and give them something to remember you by." Hughes duly obliged! Hughes took over Willie Stevenson's left-half position in the following season and was not only a hit with the Anfield crowd, but also with the girls as he was voted the most attractive Football League player at the end of the 1968/69 season, polling 5,000 more votes than second place, receiving 36,000 votes in total. Hughes' strong runs from midfield made numerous openings for his colleagues, although he possessed a venomous shot which brought him nearly 50 goals as a Liverpool player. His goal celebrations were usually a sight to behold as he ran the length of the field like a wild man, displaying his great love for the game.
Hughes' Liverpool career started alongside most of the names that had brought the club so much success in the mid-60's like Ian St John, Ron Yeats and Roger Hunt but he was never going to be one of the casualties in Shankly's 70's clearout. Shankly knew what a gem he had found and his was one of the first names on the teamsheet. The 1972/73 season was the big breakthrough for Hughes and Liverpool. After narrowly missing out on honours the previous two seasons, beaten by Arsenal in the cup final and being deprived of the League Championship again by Arsenal in the final fixture of 1971/72, the Reds gained ample compensation by winning the title after a seven-year absence and also collecting their first European trophy, the UEFA Cup. Hughes played in an astonishing 65 competitive games for Liverpool that season but never openly displayed any signs of real tiredness. In fact, Hughes' enthusiasm knew no bounds. "I have played at Spurs on a Saturday afternoon, caught the train to Liverpool and then driven north to Barrow late on Saturday night in order to turn out for a Sunday League team," Hughes said in this book "Crazy Horse". "I did that run when I was a current England international. If the authorities would have found out I would have been in terrible trouble, but I has so much extra energy that after those Sunday morning matches I was looking for a game of tennis in the afternoon."
Hughes played in midfield until 1973/74 when he moved to centre-half alongside Phil Thompson. They formed an innovative partnership, building Liverpool's attacks from the back by passing to the midfield instead of hoofing the ball upfield. Hughes was made captain instead of Tommy Smith, a fact that Smith resented. "It was my club. I'd been there a damn sight longer than him," Smith told the Telegraph. "Everything in my life was football, especially Liverpool, so why should I let this two-faced little so-and-so spoil my football life? But I did not entertain him, or speak to him off the pitch. Never." Bob Paisley didn't seem too fond of Hughes either but obviously rated him as a player: "Emlyn always struck me as a player who could have been an even better one if he had been a slightly different personality. He always liked to be King of the Roost," Paisley said in "My 50 Golden Reds". "They called him Crazy Horse on The Kop. But that was one of the more complimentary nicknames that Emlyn Hughes won for himself during his time at Anfield. I’m not giving away any great secrets of the Boot Room when I say he wasn’t – and still isn’t the most popular former player to have left Liverpool. Some of his teammates weren’t that fond of him and one of them, Tommy Smith, absolutely hated him. Smithy and Hughes never spoke to each other. I had to speak to them both when all the trouble was brewing up but it never mattered to me if players got on like a house on fire or if they couldn’t stand the sight of each other, as long as they didn’t let their personal feelings spill over onto the pitch."
The honours kept coming: the FA Cup in 1974, another League / UEFA Cup 'double' in 1976 and then finally in 1977 the biggest prize of all, the European Cup won in Rome and collected - as so aptly put by commentator Barry Davies at the time - by the man wearing 'the smile of the season'. He was also honoured by the sportswriters as their Footballer of the Year. Hughes was a versatile player equally at home in a full-back position, where he was often used by England, as a central defender or maybe his best years at Anfield were when he was surging through from his midfield position? Hughes was still skipper when the European Cup was retained at Wembley in 1978 but as his thirtieth birthday approached he could no longer be sure of his place in the side. Alan Hansen had taken his place, but Hughes could also feature at left-back in Alan Kennedy's absence. In August 1979, after twelve and a half wonderful years as a Liverpool player, he made the decision to move to Wolverhampton Wanderers, receiving a rapturous welcome when he returned to Anfield with his new club and also finishing his first season at Molineux by receiving the Football League Cup, just about the only trophy he hadn't won as a Liverpool player.
Hughes moved on to Rotherham as player-manager and proudly brought his team over to Anfield for a League Cup tie in November 1982, which the Reds only won thanks to Craig Johnston's late strike. He also had brief spells with Hull City, Mansfield Town and Swansea City but never approached the success as a manager that he had enjoyed as a player. As he passed his fiftieth birthday, Hughes was working as hard as ever with his business interests but always talked with enormous affection about his time on Merseyside. Very few men ever reached the heights that Emlyn Hughes did as a footballer and there is no doubt that he deserves to be in any "Hall of Fame" for what he achieved for the club he served so loyally and for so long. One of Liverpool's greatest players, his glorious career for the Reds boasted 665 games, 49 goals, four League titles, the FA Cup, two UEFA Cups and two European Cups. Hughes passed away on 9 November 2004, at the age of 57 from a brain tumour.
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|26||West Ham United|
|2||Red Star Belgrade|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|3||West Ham United|
|3||European Fairs Cup|
|2||European Cup Winners Cup|
|1||European Super Cup|
|Total||Goal minute period|
|250||03.11.1971||Bayern Munich||Grunwalder Strasse||Europe|
|400||13.04.1974||Ipswich Town||Portman Road||League|
|550||22.01.1977||Norwich City||Carrow Road||League|
|600||03.12.1977||West Ham United||Anfield||League|
|650||10.01.1979||Southend||Roots Hall||FA Cup|
The Daily Mirror on 17 May 2014.More
Two days before the epic Euro 2000 first leg encounter between Scotland and England at Hampden Park, Shankly.com met an upbeat Emlyn Hughes to discuss England's chances and, of course, recall memories of a certain Bill Shankly. More
Bob Paisley profiles the Crazy Horse.More
Coventry Evening Telegraph report on Birmingham City 2 - 1 Liverpool on 7 April 1973.More
The FA Cup final in 1974 was a one-sided affair for Liverpool vs. Alan Kennedy's and Terry McDermott's Newcastle. More
Brian Glanville remembers Crazy Horse in The Guardian on 10th November 2004.More
A classic interview from 1964 between Blackpool and England star and journalist Jimmy Armfield and a 17 year old full back, who has just completed his first year as a professional footballer with Blackpool. His name, a certain Emlyn Hughes.More
"We had to get to Lytham St Anne's to complete the signing so I could play straight away in Liverpool's next match and Shanks drove us both down there. It's only about 10 minutes from Bloomfield Road, but he was the worst driver in the world. He had this old brown Corsair and just as we left the ground he half went through a set of lights and a woman shunted into the back of us and smashed all the lights in. Next thing, a police car flags us down and the young officer comes up to the car and Shanks winds down the window. 'What is it officer ?' he asked, 'I'm sorry sir you can't continue the journey in that car as you've got no lights'. said the policeman. 'Do you know who's in this car ?', said Shanks, and I thought he was doing the old do you know who I am routine. 'No' said the officer, 'I don't recognise you.' 'No not me you fool', he said, 'I've got the future captain of England alongside me.'"
Emlyn Hughes in an interview on Shankly.com
"The players aren't good enough for Liverpool Football Club. Gerard's been at the club a long time and Liverpool are nowhere near winning the title. I thought last year's Premiership was the worst - but this year is.
Houllier has to buy players who will die for Liverpool Football Club, not people kissing the badge because they get a corner. He needs good players who know how to play. This is not a bitter, twisted former defender moaning about how much money they have compared to when I played - it's just that I care deeply about Liverpool. I want a team that's 12 points IN FRONT of Manchester United, not 12 points behind."
Emlyn Hughes speaks out in October 2003
"He was an absolute legend. When I went to Liverpool he was the main man. He was a wonderful player and a fantastic example to everyone. He was the best person to learn from and a larger than life character."
Graeme Souness on the mighty Emlyn Hughes
"He absolutely adored playing football. He would just give 110%. They called him Crazy Horse and that's exactly what he was. He never stopped, he was up and down the pitch, cajoling everyone. He'll not be forgotten."
Terry McDermott on Emlyn Hughes
"In my time at the club there were perhaps three players who, through their consistency, epitomised the Liverpool Way more than anyone. Ian Callaghan, Kevin Keegan, and of course, Emlyn Hughes."
John Toshack on the mighty Emlyn
- A find of the decade - from 1970
- A poster of Emlyn Hughes - Football Monthly May 1971
- Cup of glory as Liverpool turn on the style - May 1974
- Do not retire, Shanks! say Liverpool players
- Eager for the game - from 1971
- Emlyn Footballer of the year 1977
- Emlyn hits great winner - 12 March 1977
- Emlyn Hughes keen on rally - LFC match programme September 1975
- Emlyn Hughes on the cover of Shoot! 1971-1978
- Emlyn Hughes on the cover of Shoot! as a Wolves player
- Emlyn in full stride a joy to watch - Liverpool vs Newcastle on 16 February 1970
- Emlyn on his rival, Bob McNab, in the 1971 FA Cup final
- Emlyn on the cover of Goal - 10 August 1968
- Emlyn says hello - From The Kop on 4 March 1967
- Emlyn's derby double on 3 March 1973
- From gloom to glory - article from 1969
- He's the perfect Liverpool type - Football Monthly July 1973
- How lucky can a 21-year-old be? - Football Monthly 1968
- Hughes double versus Southampton on 1 May 1971
- Hughes has right remedy - 3 March 1973
- Interview with Emlyn in the LFC Magazine
- LFC Official Matchday Magazine interview 2000/01
- Me and my shadow - Emlyn stayed close to Dalglish - 3 May 1980
- Mighty Em - 1978
- Players of the year - LFC Official Matchday Magazine
- Poster of Emlyn Hughes - 1968
- Poster of Emlyn Hughes - Echo May 1978
- Spotlight on Emlyn Hughes before the 1971 FA Cup final
- Stephen Done's column in Liverpool's match programme
- Storybook career for Reds' skipper - March 1979
- Super Reds of the Seventies - Liverpool Echo souvenir
- The awakening by Emlyn Hughes - 3 April 1974
- The cover of the Liverpool Echo on 9 November 2004
- The great talent
- The nightmare - 8 May 1972
- The pride of England - 12 April 1978
- We must keep Emlyn in midfield
- We scare the opposition - 17 September 1977
- What makes Liverpool run - 23 April 1977
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Blackpool||1965-1966||England First Division||1||0||1||0|
|Blackpool||1966-1967||England First Division||27||0||33||0|
|Wolves||1979-1980||England First Division||35||0||48||0|
|Wolves||1980-1981||England First Division||23||2||29||2|
|Rotherham United||1981-1982||England Second Division||24||2||25||2|
|Rotherham United||1982-1983||England Second Division||32||4||36||4|
|Hull City||1983||England Fourth Division||9||0||9||0|
|Mansfield Town||1983||England Fourth Division||0||0||0||0|
|Swansea City||1983-1984||England Second Division||7||0||9||0|