Birthdate: 20 October 1961
Birthplace: St Asaph, Wales
Other clubs: Chester (1977-80), Juventus (1986-88), Leeds United (1996-97), Newcastle United (1997-98), Sheffield United (loan 1998), Wrexham (1998-99), Sydney Olympic (1999)
Bought from: Chester, Juventus
Signed for LFC: 300000 / £2700000, 01.05.1980 / 01.07.1986 (loan) / 18.08.1988
International debut: 21.05.1980 vs. Scotland
International caps: 73/28 (67/26 at LFC) - 24.1.1996
Liverpool debut: 13.12.1980
Last appearance: 11.05.1996
Debut goal: 30.09.1981
Last goal: 05.05.1996
Contract expiry: 01.07.1986 / 01.07.1987 (end of loan) / 20.05.1996
Win ratio: 54.7% W: 361 D: 165 L: 134
Games/goals ratio: 1.91
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 3 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 469 / 229
Total LFC games/goals: 660 / 346
Simply the greatest goalscorer in Liverpool's history. Rushie was born and raised with four sisters and five brothers in a village called St Asaph in North-Wales. When he was 13 playing for Deeside Primary schools his scoring prowess alerted scouts at Liverpool and Manchester United. He eventually went on trials to Burnley, Wrexham and Chester. Cliff Sear, the youth team manager at Chester, put him at ease and Rush felt at home at Chester. Liverpool scout Geoff Twentyman was a regular visitor at Chester's games and come 1980 Bob Paisley was convinced enough about his talent. Rush didn't share his great belief that he would succeed at Liverpool and tried to prize himself out of a move by demanding £100 a week from the Reds. In fact Liverpool were more than ready to triple that figure so this cunning plan didn't quite work out. In those days Liverpool always used to sign a youngster coming to the end of the tax year. This time they splashed out £300,000 on the 19-year-old Rush which was the highest fee ever paid for a youngster at the time in the world. What clinched the deal for Rush was that Chester manager, Allan Oakes, told him: 'If you don't make it, you can always go back to Chester." Rush left Chester after scoring 17 goals in 39 matches. Rush made his debut for Liverpool in a 1-1 draw against Ipswich on 13 December 1980 replacing Kenny Dalglish in the side, who was out with an injured ankle. Wearing the famous number seven at Liverpool was quite a responsibility for the youngster, who was raised as an Everton supporter. Paisley was quite calm as he told the Times. "It was not an easy decision, but what swayed me in the end was that if I had picked anyone else it would have meant playing them out of position. I have replaced a striker with a striker." Rush's second game was a League Cup final replay no less. He had an impressive game at Villa Park and rattled the crossbar. Liverpool celebrated a 2-1 win courtesy of Dalglish’s and Hansen’s goals. Rush finished the season with nine games for Liverpool but still no goals. He had though so far netted twelve goals in 30 reserve appearances.
Rush didn’t get a chance in the first team at the beginning of his first full season. He also had trouble adapting socially to his new surroundings. He was shy and didn’t like how Dalglish and the senior players used to wind him and the other new recruits up. Rush knocked on Paisley’s door and declared he wanted a chance with the first team or else he would leave. Paisley said he would make him available for transfer and Rush left his office determined to show him he could score an abundance of goals with the reserves that would alert other clubs. Rush scored five goals in his first four reserve games of the season. Paisley’s trick had worked as he never intended to sell him. Paisley was wondering at first if he had made a wise decision buying him: "He couldn’t score a goal to save his life and what little self-confidence he had started to seep away. Once he started scoring he couldn’t stop. At first, they were all walloped in with his right foot. Then he got the odd one with left foot. Soon they were going in so frequently with either foot that we couldn’t remember which was his strong one. Before we knew he was heading in goals like they were going out of fashion too."
Rush broke his duck on 30 September 1981 at Anfield against Oulu Palloseura from Finland in the European Cup. He came on as a substitute and scored one of Liverpool's seven on the night. David Johnson got injured and Rush had a golden opportunity to establish himself in the side. Rush scored a brace against Exeter in the League Cup and netted another two goals in the League against Leeds and didn’t stop until he had scored 30 goals that season. The pinnacle was his first goal at Wembley in the League Cup final. Ronnie Whelan scored Liverpool's two goals in their 3-1 win over Tottenham. Whelan and Rush entered the side at a similar time and became firm friends. Their time had certainly come. Few believed Rush could sustain his current rate of scoring goals the next season, but he proved them all wrong and was voted the League’s most promising player in the 1982/83 season. Rush and Dalglish had formed a lethal partnership and their understanding of each other’s strengths was incredible. Rush was a quick runner and a quick thinker as well. He had made his move long before the opponent had realised. Sure enough Kenny rewarded his run with a brilliant pass and soon the ball was in the net. Dalglish described their successful partnership in his autobiography. "Rushie was perceptive and had two good feet. He is one of the most instinctive finishers football has ever seen. My partnership with Rush proved so good because he could run and I could pass. I would just try to put the ball in front of him. Rushie said that he made runs knowing the ball would come to him. That was true but only because his runs were so clever. His run was more important than my pass. Rushie was a good passer himself. He could have been a midfielder because his range of passing was great. Rush was easily the best partner I've ever had. We could have been made for each other." Rush soon earned the nickname "The Ghost" for the way he snuck up behind defenders. Rushie’s most memorable scoring feat that season was without a doubt his four goals in the derby match against Everton at Goodison Park. His destruction of the Blues was immortalised in song as an extra verse in "Poor Scouser Tommy" by Liverpool fans all over the world. Liverpool won the same double as the season before, the Championship and the League Cup.
The 1983/84 season was perhaps Rush's best for Liverpool. He scored a breathtaking hat-trick at Aston Villa, four against Coventry and five against Luton. Just before he went out on the field to score a quintette against Luton he soaked his rock hard boots in the bath. Every game since then he religiously wet his boots prior to kick-off. Liverpool fans would hardly believe if 90 minutes could pass without Rush scoring. He finished off Dinamo Bucharest in the semi-finals of the European Cup by a couple of goals. The final was a memorable one and Rush was one of four Liverpool players who scored in the penalty shoot-out in Rome. He had scored no less than 47 goals that season and was awarded the Golden Boot for being Europe’s top scorer. It was hardly surprising that his fellow professionals in England and the local media would choose him as the best player of the season. He had also destroyed Roger Hunt’s Liverpool record who had scored 41 goals in one season twenty years earlier. Rush was tempted to leave his beloved club for Napoli in 1984 as Rush revealed to LFChistory.net. "Napoli offered me £1 million and I wanted to speak to them just before the deadline. John Smith, the Liverpool Chairman, refused to do that." Napoli went on to sign Diego Maradona instead.
Rush suffered his first setback when he was sidelined for the first 14 games in the following season. His first game was against Everton but he drew a blank. Only a few days later he was back with a vengeance when he scored a hat-trick against Benfica in the second round of the European Cup. Stuart Jones at the Times as any Liverpool fan was mesmerised by his treble. "Rush is an extraordinary predator. The scorer of 47 goals last season was covered with rust and he looked lost outside the penalty area, where the ball seemed a slippery object beyond his control. Inside it, the ball appeared to follow him around and obey instructions that were born more out of instinct than careful thought," he wrote. "The man who transformed that tie in the first leg at Anfield last March was Dalglish, also returning from a lengthy absence. The Portuguese hailed him as "a Messiah". Rush personifies the second coming." Rush repeated his feat from a year earlier when he scored two goals in the semi-final against Panathinaikos at Anfield, but the European Cup final at Heysel was a tragedy.
Liverpool captured the double in the 1985/86 season with Rush once again playing a key part, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Everton in the first-ever Merseyside final, which he rates as his most memorable game. Heartbreak for Liverpool fans worldwide was ahead. The Heysel tragedy resulted in a European ban for Liverpool and the club suffered financially for its exclusion from Europe. Liverpool were forced to part with their greatest asset for which they were going to receive a record fee for a British footballer, £3.2 million. Rush was supposed to join Juventus in the summer of 1986, but Juventus president, Giampiero Boniperti, said to his great surprise during contract negotiations that he was going to be loaned out to Lazio in Seria B for the 1986/87 season as Platini had decided to play one more season. The French maestro and Michael Laudrup would occupy the two places allowed for foreigners at the Italian club. Rush suggested a loan to Liverpool to Boniperti. He noted that Club Secretary Peter Robinson who was representing Liverpool in the negotiations "practically grazed his jaw on his shirt buttons at the thought of Liverpool receiving over £3 million, but still having me for another season." Those who feared Rush wouldn’t give 100% for the club in his final season soon calmed down. He scored 21 goals in his first 21 games. Incredibly Liverpool had never lost a game in which Rushie scored. The tally had reached 145 games when Liverpool faced Arsenal in the League Cup final. Rush gave Liverpool the lead but Charlie Nicholas replied with two and Arsenal ran out winners. Everton recaptured the Championship from their neighbours but not before Rush made them suffer at Anfield when he scored his eighteenth and nineteenth goal in twenty derby matches, equalling Dixie Dean’s record. Dixie achieved that feat in 17 matches, but Rushie went on to score a total of 25 goals against the Blues. Kevin Sheedy, former Red and current Blue, admitted that Everton would "sleep easier at night" following his move to Italy. Rush said goodbye to Liverpool by registering six goals in his final eight games.
The Welshman scored 14 goals for Juventus in the 1987/88 season of which eight were in Seria A. Diego Maradona was number one in the scoring charts with 14 league goals and Rush scored as many goals as Marco Van Basten and more than Rudi Voeller. He showed Juve fans what he was capable of when he scored four goals against Pescara in the cup. Injuries, illness, the defensive nature of the Italians and Michel Platini’s decision to quit Juventus all played a part in Rush's failure to deliver the goods on a regular basis. Peter Robinson was relaxing in the Spanish sun in 1988 when he spotted a magazine article that said talented striker, Alexander Zavarov, was on his way to Juventus and that meant there would be one foreign player too many at the Torino club. Robinson suspected who would be left out and immediately phoned Dalglish. Rushie’s return to Liverpool after only one season abroad came as a surprise to everyone and no one realised until he sat down with the manager in front of the stunned press that he had signed for his old club. Majority of the press believed that Liverpool were buying Gary Pallister from Middlesbrough to replace the injured Alan Hansen. The prize was £2.7 million so Liverpool had bought him for £500,000 less. Liverpool had ran away with the League in the previous campaign and defences all around England were already quivering in their boots to meet up with Rush again, not least his neighbours across Stanley Park.
Once Rush returned he was clearly far away from his best condition. In January fans started to see glimpses of the old Rush. He scored in three games in a row but then he got injured and a knee operation meant two months on the sidelines. He proved a valuable substitute in the FA Cup final against his old foes Everton. John Aldridge made way for Rush in the second half having scored the only goal of the game until then. Stuart McCall equalized in the last seconds of full time. Rush scored Liverpool’s second with a brilliant shot in the fifth minute of extra-time but that was cancelled out by another McCall equalizer in the 102nd minute. Two minutes later Rushie proved to be the hero of the day when he scored with a dead accurate header and Liverpool won the Cup. Rush was preferred to John Aldridge in the starting line-up the following season and critics got on his back right away. The pressure was greater because Aldridge had been the team’s top scorer last season. After his third consecutive game without a goal the Times reported: "The selection of Rush, though, is puzzling. There can be no compelling reason for Kenny Dalglish to omit the club's leading scorer for the last two seasons, Aldridge, in favour of a forward who is still palpably far below his former fearsome form." However, Dalglish’s confidence in his old friend was 100%. Aldridge was not happy with the situation and signed for Real Sociedad in Spain where he continued to score on a regular basis. Rush didn’t let Kenny down and finished the season as top scorer with 26 goals. Like clockwork he scored the same amount of goals next season but Dalglish’s resignation spoilt Liverpool’s chances of holding on to their League title. Rush sustained an injury along with other key players in Souness’ first whole season in 1991/92. He managed to get himself fit for the FA Cup final against Sunderland and struck gold as usual at Wembley. He sealed Liverpool’s 2-0 win and his fifth goal in a FA Cup final was an unprecedented achievement.
Rush struggled along with others in the Liverpool side in the next two seasons but still delivered 41 goals. On 18 October 1992 Rush made another record his very own. He scored his 287th goal for Liverpool in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Roger Hunt had to step down from his pedestal as Liverpool’s greatest goalscorer. Rush was in awe of Sir Roger. "Obviously I am proud and privileged to have beaten the record of a great player like Roger Hunt. He was my father's hero." Souness gave Rushie the captain’s armband he fully deserved in the autumn of 1993. He also received a new and promising strike-partner by the name of Robbie Fowler. They connected well and the Welshman took the young striker under his wing. Souness resigned in January 1994 and Roy Evans took over. Rush played his 600th game for Liverpool against Blackburn in the fifth round of the League Cup and celebrated by scoring his thirteenth hat-trick! Rush went on to score sixteen in total, one less than the club's hat-trick king, Gordon Hodgson. Steve McManaman proved instrumental in the final against Bolton and no one was more proud than Rushie to lift the cup as captain. In the summer of 1995 Liverpool bought the striking sensation that was Stan Collymore for a record fee. Rush was approaching his thirty-fourth birthday and the prediction was this was going to be his final season. Rush continued as captain and figured at the start of the season, but got sidelined through injury. Fowler and Collymore established a good rapport and the writing was firmly on the wall for the legend. Rushie’s achievements in the game were acknowledged by the queen at the turn of the year. He was awarded the MBE at Buckingham Palace. One more record gave way before Rushie left Anfield. On 6 January 1996 he scored against Rochdale in the third round of the FA Cup at Anfield. It was his forty-second goal in the competition and put him one above Denis Law with whom he had shared the record as the competition’s greatest goal-scorer in the twentieth century. Rochdale manager, Mick Docherty, was honoured to witness this monumental feat: "It couldn't happen to a better pro. He is a shining light in the profession because of his work rate, dedication and his great scoring record."
On 27 April 1996 Ian Rush played his farewell game at Anfield. He came on as a substitute in a 1-0 win over Middlesbrough but couldn’t get on the scoresheet. Rush was applauded by both sets of fans. He took his shirt off and threw it into the Kop. "It was an emotional day but also a fantastic day for me," Rushie said after the final whistle. "The reception I got will live with me forever. I'm sorry I didn't score. The fans were willing me to score and I wanted to score as much as they wanted me to. I wanted to stay on the pitch forever." He played his final League game against Manchester City and scored in a 2-2 draw. He looked forward to his final appearance that was appropriately enough at Wembley in the FA Cup final. "In a perfect world, I would come on and score the winner. But it's the one game where I would happily sit on the bench for 90 minutes until Liverpool had won," Rush said waiting for his big moment. Evans was in no doubt he would play some part in the final. "You don't keep someone with his experience on the bench. Wembley would be a fitting end to his Liverpool career, but I don't think there is a fitting venue in the world for Ian to finish off his career." Rush came on in the second half but a dull game ended 1-0 in Manchester United’s favour. A few days later Rush joined Leeds United. He was continually played out of position on the wing at Leeds and only recorded three goals for the Yorkshire club. In the summer of 1997 his old mate Dalglish lured him to Newcastle as well John Barnes. Rush scored two goals for Newcastle and both were historic. He scored his forty-eighth goal in the League Cup which equalled Geoff Hurst’s record and his second and last goal of his top-flight career came against Everton. Once more his old favourites were his victims. He was loaned out to Sheffield United in the spring and was hired as player-coach of Wrexham in the 1998/99 season. The legendary striker made couple of appearances with Sidney Olympic in Australia before retiring in 1999.
Ian Rush was also a star for his country. He played 73 internationals for Wales and scored 28 goals which is of course also a goalscoring record. His biggest disappointment was that he never got the opportunity to represent his country in the European Championships or the World Cup. Wales’ Ryan Giggs is amongst his biggest admirers: "As a schoolboy the three strikers I admired most were Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Gary Lineker. But Rushie stood out because he was such an inspiring example to youngsters with so many other assets to his game." Rush has passed his FA coaching badges and travelled around the world to Australia and Iceland amongst other countries where he has taught kids to become accomplished goalscorers trying to pass on the knowledge he has gained. Houllier also recognised his coaching ability and added him temporarily to his Liverpool staff to help his strikers score goals.
It's incredible to fathom that before Rush left Liverpool for Juventus he was still living with his parents in St Asaph. He was a global superstar yet extremely grounded. His catholic faith was strong and he went to church at 8 o'clock every Sunday morning. Despite all his success Rush has always stayed true to who he is, a village boy from Wales. Rush told LFChistory.net: "My dad brought me up to respect people. One thing he always said was: 'If you're nice to people on the way up, they'll be nice with you. If you're not nice with them they'll sit and be waiting for you to come down." Rush argued he was a better all-round player once he returned from Italy. He had certainly always impressed with his goalscoring talents but what made him stand apart was his defensive work. He was Liverpool's first defender when the opposition had the ball. Joe Fagan was always impressed by Rush's attention to teamwork. "He set an example to all his colleagues, not only in his scoring, but also in his willingness to tackle back. He wins the ball so often it provides a psychological boost for defenders." Rush scored 207 goals in 331 appearances in his first spell at Liverpool and added 139 in 329 games in his second phase at the club following his return from Juventus. Ian Rush is a unique striker at a club that prides itself on great forwards and he will never have his equal.