Player profile

Sammy Lee

Birthdate: 7 February 1959
Birthplace: Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Queens Park Rangers (1986-87), Osasuna (1987-90), Southampton (1990), Bolton Wanderers (1990-91)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1972 - Professional April 1976
International debut: 17.11.1982 vs. Greece
International caps: 14/2 - 17.06.1984
Liverpool debut: 08.04.1978
Last appearance: 06.05.1986
Debut goal: 08.04.1978
Last goal: 11.04.1984
Contract expiry: August 1986
Win ratio: 54.92% W: 162 D: 85 L: 48
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 2 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 197 / 13
Total LFC games/goals: 295 / 19

Player profile

An energetic 5 ft. 4 in. (163 cm.) midfielder who gained England recognition and was a great servant to the club on and off the pitch, immortalised in the song: “He’s fat, he’s round, he bounces on the ground. Sammy Lee, Sammy Lee.” It was a loving tribute to the local lad about whom Bob Paisley said: "With the character and attitude he shows they’d make him Mayor of Liverpool if he was a few inches taller." Two years after signing a professional contract with Liverpool the 19-year-old made his debut against Leicester in the First Division on 8 April 1978. He came on in the sixth minute for David Johnson who tore his knee ligaments. It turned out to be a memorable game for Lee who scored Liverpool's second goal in a 3-2 win with a fortuitous shot which the Leicester goalkeeper allowed to creep under his body, but they all count! He only made one more substitute appearance that season and he hardly got a look-in in the impregnable Liverpool side of 1978/79. An injury to Terry McDermott finally gave him the breakthrough he had been looking for at the end of the 1979/80 season. He featured in all four FA Cup semi-finals against Arsenal that ultimately ended in defeat but played at Anfield when Liverpool clinched the League Championship against Aston Villa. Lee was back in the reserves at the start of the following 1980/81 season but nine games into the campaign Jimmy Case lost his place on the wide right of midfield to the enthusiastic youngster. Liverpool lost the League title to Aston Villa but received ample compensation in the knock-out competitions, winning the League Cup for the first time and then defeating Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes in Paris to take the European Cup for the third time. Lee played in both finals and his progress in his first full season didn't go unnoticed by Reds' fans as he was the overwhelming winner in Liverpool FC Supporters Club’s Player of the Year poll. The prize was presented to him by none other than Bill Shankly.

Lee won three successive League Championships during the next three years culminating in the glorious 1983/84 season when he played every single game, 67 in total. After the heady achievements of 1984, Lee's form dipped from its usual high standards and he was called on only rarely during the second half of the 1984/85 season with Craig Johnston and Kevin MacDonald both preferred in his role. He was also in and out of the team in the double season and it was not too much of a surprise when he agreed to join Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 1986. He left with the best wishes of his teammates as he had been a big part of the great camaraderie in the Liverpool dressing-room. He has a bubbly personality and is never lost for words as proven when he created the biggest laugh on-board the plane that carried Liverpool and Everton back home from their 1986 FA Cup final at Wembley where the Reds won the Cup after taking the League title from Everton a week earlier. "During the flight, there was a light-hearted disagreement between the players about the amount of room on the plane," Jan Mølby remembers. "'Move your fat arse,' Everton full-back Pat Van Den Hauwe shouted at little Sammy Lee. 'Sorry,' replied Sammy, 'but what do you expect? I've got two medals in my pocket!" Lee only had a year in London before seeking a change of fortune in the Spanish first division with Osasuna where he stayed two years before moving back to England.

Lee returned to Liverpool as Phil Thompson's replacement as reserve team coach in 1993. With Houllier's arrival in 1998 Lee moved up to first-team trainer. Following Houllier's dismissal and Benítez' arrival in the summer of 2004 Lee felt a clean break was best for all concerned and he joined England's coaching staff full-time. In June 2005 he joined Bolton as assistant manager to Sam Allardyce and continued coaching the England team on part-time basis. He turned down the full-time England u-21 job in 2006 to concentrate on Bolton and took over as the club's manager when Allardyce resigned in April 2007. However, Lee only lasted 14 games in the job after results were well below expectations. Reds rejoiced when Lee returned home to Liverpool once more in May 2008 as Benítez' assistant manager. Lee survived the managerial changes that saw Hodgson replace Benítez, then Dalglish replace Hodgson. However, as pre-season training began ahead of the 2011/12 season, it was announced that Lee would be leaving the club despite Dalglish saying as recently as May 2011 that Lee was "a key part of his team". In February 2012 Lee returned to Bolton as head of coaching at the club's academy. Bolton manager Owen Coyle said: "I know Sammy will bring a great deal of top-level coaching experience and enthusiasm, and that can only be of huge benefit for our youth players."

"If they are to get into the top three every side needs its hardworking bees. And Sammy was one of those bees," Phil Neal said. "He played just in front of me and we formed a really good partnership. I remember Bob Paisley telling him to mark Paul Breitner when we played in the Munich Stadium and Sammy did a magnificent job. He was always the one who started the singing after we had picked up a trophy - all the old Liverpool songs. We had some great sing-a-longs. He created a really joyous arena. But he was always a very apologetic person. He always apologised for almost anything he did. He is a lovely natured person. I love him to bits."

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals1971739339295
1976-1977 000000
1977-1978 200002
1978-1979 200002
1979-1980 7400011
1980-1981 37279055
1981-1982 35265149
1982-1983 40386158
1983-1984 422139167
1984-1985 17124125
1985-1986 15330526

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
16Arsenal
15Ipswich Town
14Manchester United
13Everton
13Tottenham
11West Ham United
11Stoke City
11Southampton
10Aston Villa
10Norwich City
10Nottingham Forest
10Birmingham City
9Sunderland
8Brighton & Hove Albion
8Coventry City
8WBA
7Manchester City
6Watford
6QPR
6Luton Town
6Leicester City
6Notts County
5Middlesbrough
5Wolves
4Swansea City
4Leeds United
4CSKA Sofia
4Oulu Palloseura
3Benfica
3Fulham
3Sheffield Wednesday
3Newcastle United
2Walsall
2Burnley
2Athletic Bilbao
2Crystal Palace
2Dundalk
2Bayern Munich
2York City
2Din. Bucharest
2Brentford
2Aberdeen
2Odense BK
2Lech Poznan
2HJK Helsinki
2Widzew Lodz
1Roma
1Panathinaikos
1Barnsley
1Exeter City
1Altrincham
1Real Madrid
1AZ 67 Alkmaar
1Flamengo
1Stockport County
1Swindon Town
1Blackburn Rovers
1Chelsea
1Oldham Athletic
1Portsmouth
1Rotherham United
Total Started/substitutions
288 Started
33 On the bench
7 Substitute
14 Substituted

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals13024019
1976-1977 000000
1977-1978 100001
1978-1979 000000
1979-1980 000000
1980-1981 402208
1981-1982 300104
1982-1983 300003
1983-1984 200103
1984-1985 000000
1985-1986 000000

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

TotalStarted/substitutions
18Started
1Substitute
TotalCompetition
13League
4European Cup
2League Cup
TotalGoal minute period
31-15 minutes
216-30 minutes
131-45 minutes
546-60 minutes
261-75 minutes
676-90 minutes
091-120
TotalOpen play/Penalty
19Open play
0Penalty

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
108.04.1978Leicester CityAnfieldLeague
5007.02.1981WBAThe HawthornsLeague
10003.03.1982CSKA SofiaAnfieldEurope
15001.01.1983Notts CountyAnfieldLeague
20022.11.1983FulhamAnfieldLeague Cup
25008.09.1984ArsenalHighburyLeague

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
15608.04.1978Leicester CityAnfieldLeague

Related Articles

Lee returns as assistant manager

Liverpool have today confirmed that Sammy Lee will return to Anfield in the role of assistant manager. From 16th May 2008.More

Bolton Wanderers part company with Sammy Lee

Times online from 17 October 2007.More

Why Lee can make it on his own

After 14 years as a top coach, Sammy Lee has finally been given the chance to prove he can cut it as a Premiership manager. More

Bob Paisley was a big fan of little Sammy Lee

Sammy Lee could run and run. He was small in stature but had the heart of a lion!More

Sammy Lee for England

In May 2001, Sammy Lee was invited to join the England set-up.More

Related Quotes

"During the flight, there was a light-hearted disagreement between the players about the amount of room on the plane. 'Move your fat arse,' Everton full-back Pat Van Den Hauwe shouted at little Sammy Lee. 'Sorry,' replied Sammy, 'but what do you expect? I've got two medals in my pocket!"

Quote: Jan Molby. Liverpool and Everton players shared a flight after the FA Cup final in 1986.

"Within about three months of being here I spoke with a Scouse accent, all down to Sammy Lee. I used to get changed next to Sammy, and everything he said I’d pick up. I blame Sammy."

Jan Mølby

"With the character and attitude he shows they’d make him Mayor of Liverpool if he was a few inches taller."

Bob Paisley about little Sammy Lee

"If they are to get into the top three every side needs its hardworking bees. And Sammy was one of those bees. He played just in front of me and we formed a really good partnership. I remember Bob Paisley telling him to mark Paul Breitner when we played in the Munich Stadium and Sammy did a magnificent job. He was always the one who started the singing after we had picked up a trophy - all the old Liverpool songs. We had some great sing-a-longs. He created a really joyous arena. But he was always a very apologetic person. He always apologised for almost anything he did. He is a lovely natured person. I love him to bits."

Phil Neal about Sammy Lee in 2004

As Sammy passed Breitner outside the dressing rooms, the West German international said: "Well done – you played well." To which Sammy replied with one of the quotes of the season; "Thank you, Mr. Breitner."

Sammy Lee shackled Bayern’s world class star Paul Breitner in the game vs Bayern that booked Liverpool’s place in the European Cup Final

"Little Sammy Lee celebrated his first full season in the first team by collecting winners medals in two competitions and rave notices for his skilful, competitive attitude. And the icing on Sammy’s cake came when he was made captain of the England Under 21 side against Switzerland last summer after an impressive performance on his debut as an over-age player against Rumania.

"To help Liverpool win the League Cup and European Cup and then be called up at international level in my first full season in the first division was an unforgettable experience", said 5 ft. 4 ins. Sammy about whom Bob Paisley once said: "With the character and attitude he shows they’d make him Mayor of Liverpool if he was a few inches taller."

Liverpool's 1982 Annual described Sammy Lee's progress in this way:

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
1976-1977 * Midfielder
1977-1978 * Midfielder
1978-1979 * Midfielder
1979-1980 * Midfielder
1980-1981 * Midfielder
1981-1982 * Midfielder
1982-1983 * Midfielder
1983-1984 * Midfielder
1984-1985 * Midfielder
1985-1986 * Midfielder
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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