Player profile

Ian Rush

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

Player profile

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 to convince the club to splash out £300,000 on the 19-year-old 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. 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. 

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. 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. 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, £3.2million. 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 Serie 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. 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. 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 Serie 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 £2.7million 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. He 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’s 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. Rush came on in the second half but a dull game ended 1-0 in Manchester United’s favour. A few days later he 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. 

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.

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals46961783814660
1980-1981 701109
1981-1982 323104049
1982-1983 34385151
1983-1984 412129165
1984-1985 28617244
1985-1986 40860256
1986-1987 42390357
1988-1989 24240232
1989-1990 36830148
1990-1991 37730148
1991-1992 18535031
1992-1993 32144142
1993-1994 42250049
1994-1995 36770050
1995-1996 20423029

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
36Everton
32Manchester United
31Tottenham
30Arsenal
27Coventry City
27Southampton
26Nottingham Forest
24QPR
23Aston Villa
21Norwich City
20Manchester City
20Ipswich Town
19Chelsea
18West Ham United
18Sheffield Wednesday
15Luton Town
15Wimbledon
14Leeds United
14Newcastle United
13Stoke City
12Sunderland
12Crystal Palace
11Watford
11Birmingham City
10Leicester City
9Blackburn Rovers
8WBA
8Brighton & Hove Albion
8Sheffield United
7Middlesbrough
7Fulham
7Notts County
6Oldham Athletic
6Swansea City
5Derby
5Charlton Athletic
5Burnley
4Walsall
4Oxford United
4York City
4Benfica
3Barnsley
3Millwall
3Wolves
2Bolton Wanderers
2Bristol City
2Portsmouth
2Exeter City
2HJK Helsinki
2Widzew Lodz
2Wigan Athletic
2Crewe
2Apollon Limassol
2Brøndby
2Spartak Moscow
2Kuusysi Lahti
2Auxerre
2Odense BK
2Swindon Town
2Din. Bucharest
2Juventus
2Athletic Bilbao
2Austria Vienna
2CSKA Sofia
1Panathinaikos
1Dundalk
1Bayern Munich
1Port Vale
1Brentford
1Oulu Palloseura
1Genoa
1Rochdale
1Spartak Vladi.
1Roma
1Independiente
1AZ 67 Alkmaar
1Chesterfield
1Bristol Rovers
1Rotherham United
Total Started/substitutions
630 Started
22 On the bench
30 Substitute
36 Substituted

Goals per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals22939482010346
1980-1981 000000
1981-1982 17382030
1982-1983 24222131
1983-1984 32285047
1984-1985 14705026
1985-1986 22630233
1986-1987 30040640
1988-1989 7310011
1989-1990 18620026
1990-1991 16550026
1991-1992 413109
1992-1993 14115122
1993-1994 14140019
1994-1995 12160019
1995-1996 511007

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
113.12.1980Ipswich TownPortman RoadLeague
5013.04.1982Stoke CityAnfieldLeague
10005.03.1983Stoke CityAnfieldLeague
15004.02.1984SunderlandRoker ParkLeague
20002.03.1985Nottingham ForestAnfieldLeague
25018.01.1986West Ham UnitedAnfieldLeague
30006.12.1986WatfordVicarage RoadLeague
35011.12.1988EvertonAnfieldLeague
40014.03.1990QPRAnfieldFA Cup
45023.03.1991Derby Baseball GroundLeague
50003.10.1992Sheffield WednesdayAnfieldLeague
55021.11.1993Newcastle UnitedSt James' ParkLeague
60030.11.1994Blackburn RoversEwood ParkLeague Cup
65028.02.1996Charlton AthleticAnfieldFA Cup

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
16730.09.1981Oulu PalloseuraAnfieldEurope
507801.01.1983Notts CountyAnfieldLeague
1005918.04.1984Leicester CityFilbert StreetLeague
1506114.01.1986TottenhamWhite Hart LaneOther
2001818.03.1987QPRAnfieldLeague
2504809.10.1990CreweGresty RoadLeague Cup
3002008.05.1993TottenhamAnfieldLeague

Related Articles

John Peel Interviews Ian Rush

A transcript of the edition of Chain Reaction in which John Peel interviewed Liverpool striker Ian Rush. From 15 December 1992.More

Small talk with Ian Rush

From the Guardian on 18.02.2011. Liverpool's record goalscorer on making Welsh rarebit, travelling the Middle East and The King's Speech.More

Rafa had a look at Ian Rush as coach

LFChistory.net interviewed Ian Rush recently and here is an outtake from this exclusive interview that will be online next week.More

Ian Rush - A village boy from Wales

A few years ago we had the privilege of interviewing Ian Rush and now we conducted our second interview with this fantastic legend. His career was of course an eventful one so there was still enough to talk to him about the second time around.More

Read the 60 mins interview with Ian Rush

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In the bar with Ian Rush

Paul Hassall and Danny Elliott on LFC.tv on 12 March 2009.More

I'd wanted to stay at Chester says Rush

The Liverpool legend reflects on his tentative Anfield start and how a formidable pairing with Kenny Dalglish blossomed in the 1980s From The Guardian on 14th October 2008.More

Ian Rush on his proposed move to Napoli

From Ian Rush's autobiography.More

The truth behind my happy anniversary

Nov 6 2007 by Ian Rush, Liverpool Echo.More

Ian Rush scores five!

Liverpool destroyed Luton with an avalanche of goals at Anfield in the 1983//84 season. Ian Rush hitting five and Kenny Dalglish also joining in the champions super-show.More

Ian Rush scores and Liverpool still lose

Guardian article by Ian Rush recalling his record that ran its course on 05.04.87 More

Ian Rush - My perfect XI

An article from 442. Liverpool and Wales legend Ian Rush picks the best players he's ever had the pleasure - and displeasure - of sharing a football pitch with. More

Red Rush rocks Rovers

Match report from British Soccer Week on Liverpool - on 30.11.1994.More

Sparky's spree saves United

Match report from British Soccer Week on Manchester United - Liverpool on 18.10.1992.More

Rush in the hunt for a record

Match report from British Soccer Week on Apollon Limassol - Liverpool on 16.09.1992.More

Unhappy reunion for Rush

Match report from Press Association on Leeds - Liverpool on 16.11.1996.More

Nightmare for boss Souness

Match report from 04.12.1993 on Sheffield Wednesday - Liverpool from The Daily Express.More

Liverpool legend Rush shows his class

Match report from 27.10.1993 on Liverpool - Ipswich from British Soccer Week.More

Rush hits 200th goal

Match report from Liverpool - Leeds on 28.08.1993 from British Soccer Week. More

Rush and Mølby done with the lower leagues - exclusive from LFChistory

LFChistory had a quick chat with Jan Mølby and Ian Rush the other day and asked whether they have any plans to become football managers again.More

Ian Rush arrives along with Money

Bob Paisley bought two promising players in the spring of 1980. One was to become a certified legend, the other one made 17 appearances in two years.More

Final flourish lures Rush

Article by Keith Pike of "The Times". More

Emotional farewell to goalscoring legend

Match report on 27.04.1996 from "Press Association" More

Rush enters the hall of fame

by Ken Gaunt of "Press Association" More

Rush: the best there is

Match report from the Sunday Mirror on 05.04.1986.More

Super Focus on Ian Rush

A Shoot! Super focus from 1982.More

Great matches: Rush got four!

Chris Wood reflects on the greatest matches in Liverpool's history.More

Lisbon's eagles mauled by extraordinary predator

Match report from 24.10.1984 by The Times.More

Ian Rush - The greatest goalscorer in Liverpool's history

An exclusive interview with Ian Rush by lfchistory.net.More

Rushie's hat-tricks

Rush scored 16 hat-tricks for LFC, one less than record holder Gordon Hodgson.More

Tribute from King Kenny

From "Celebration Year 1994/95 Ian Rush"More

Related Quotes

"I would never play for Everton or Man Utd."

Rush in an exclusive interview with lfchistory. Alex Ferguson approached Rush when he wanted to leave Juve.

"I was just 13 when I went with a [FC] Dynamo Kyiv boys team to play in a tournament in Wales. We won the tournament and I was named the best player. What made it special was that Ian Rush was there to give me my prize. I treasured those boots for years. It meant such a lot because everyone in Ukraine knew about Ian Rush, the legendary Liverpool player. Funnily enough, the boots were too small for me but I still tried to play in them – until my big toes poked through."

Andriy Shevchenko in April 2005

"Records are there to be broken. I thought it’d last a bit longer when he went to Italy but then he came back! I wasn’t gutted when he resigned – if anyone had to break my record I’m glad it was Ian Rush."

Roger Hunt on Ian Rush in October 2006 when Hunt was inducted into the National Football Museum’s Hall of Fame.

"I think Rushie would be the first to admit that in training he just looked like an ordinary player. He didn't have the explosive pace, but all of a sudden, as soon as he got in the first team, he caught fire. He surprised everybody. He gained three or four yards of pace, his touch was great. His record speaks for itself, what a great player to be replaced by. I feel good about it. I would have felt worse if somebody had replaced me not as good. He wasn't the best of trainers, but a great, great, great player for Liverpool. A class act."

David Johnson on his replacement in the side, one Ian Rush

"Ian Rush made me look brilliant in the air. When I jumped up and headed, the ball would always go to Rushie. He could read my body; the way I jumped up Ian would deduce where the ball would go. He worked it out before I had. Rush never knew which bloody knife or fork to use, but on the pitch he was a genius."

Michael Robinson on his strike partner, Ian Rush

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
1980-1981 * Striker
1981-1982 * Striker
1982-1983 * Striker
1983-1984 * Striker
1984-1985 * Striker
1985-1986 * Striker
1986-1987 * Striker
1988-1989 * Striker
1989-1990 * Striker
1990-1991 * Striker
1991-1992 * Striker
1992-1993 * Striker
1993-1994 9 Striker
1994-1995 9 Striker
1995-1996 9 Striker
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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