Player profile

Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness

Birthdate: 6 May 1953
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Other clubs: Tottenham Hotspur (1969-73), Montreal Olympique (loan 1972), Middlesbrough (1973-78), West Adelaide Soccer Club (loan 1977), Sampdoria (1984-86), Rangers (1986-90)
Bought from: Middlesbrough
Signed for LFC: £352,000, 10.01.1978
International debut: 30.10.1974 vs. East Germany
International caps: 54/4 (37/2 at LFC) - 08.06.1986
Liverpool debut: 14.01.1978
Last appearance: 30.05.1984
Debut goal: 25.02.1978
Last goal: 21.04.1984
Contract expiry: 12.06.1984
Win ratio: 59.05% W:212 D:86 L:61
Games/goals ratio: 6.53
Honours: Player: League Championship 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84; League Cup 1982, 1983, 1984; European Cup 1978, 1981, 1984. Manager: FA Cup 1992
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 9 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 247 / 38
Total LFC games/goals: 359 / 55

Player profile

Graeme Souness was a true midfield maestro who is certain to finish on everyone’s greatest Liverpool XI-list. Souness attracted attention for his part in Tottenham' youth team’s great run in the FA Cup. There were four finals in total and he scored in the first and fourth, but was sent off in the third. When he was 17, he knocked on manager Bill Nicholson’s door and demanded a fair chance in the first team. He didn’t agree, Souness stormed out and went back home to Scotland. Souness played ten games in the North American Soccer League for Montreal Olympique before Tottenham sold him to Middlesbrough in 1973 for £30,000. The only game Souness played for Tottenham’s first team was a European match against Icelandic club, Keflavík.

When Jack Charlton took over at ‘Boro soon after Souness joined, he learned from his fellow coaches that the fiery Scot liked the nightlife a bit too much. Charlton reminded him that he could be a very successful football player or his career could be over in just one year if he wasn’t careful. Souness took notice of these wise words... for the time being. In 1978, Souness went off the tracks again and broke the club’s disciplinary code. “I am fed up, disenchanted with the game. I feel like a good holiday away from it all,” Souness groaned. He had still left a strong impression on Middlesbrough fans as one of the best players to serve the club in the post-war years. Following a week’s suspension imposed by Boro he got a call telling him to go to a hotel in Leeds to talk to a certain club. To Souness’ delight, the European champions were the party interested. The sum Liverpool paid for him was £352,000 which was at that time a transfer record between English clubs, £2,000 more than Manchester United paid for Leeds’ Joe Jordan a week earlier. 

“That first day at Anfield, 10 January 1978, was a revelation," he revealed in his autobiography. "It seems a long time now but I remember how normal and ordinary it all was, no prima donnas, no superstars. I made only one error on that first morning, I asked Tommy Smith if I could borrow his hairdryer and he turned to Phil Neal and said pointedly: ‘Everyone is allowed one mistake.’ I took my own in the future.” Souness’ first goal for his new club was voted BBC’s Goal of the Season, the recipients of his thunderbolt were Manchester United. Souness was in and out of the side, but the end of the season was sweet. Souness’ pass released Dalglish to score the winning goal in the European Cup final. His debut season was a dream come true. “The nearest I had been to European competition before was watching the Eurovision Song Contest so it was a dream come true when I won a European Champions’ medal within four months.” Souness was the driving force in midfield for Liverpool and controlled the play with Terry McDermott when Liverpool won the title in 1979 and 1980. Souness led by example and netted a hat-trick against CSKA Sofia in the quarter-finals on their way to yet another European triumph. The trophies kept on coming and Souness’ genius was for everyone to see. During Christmas 1981 Liverpool lost 3-1 to Manchester City and the team was in twelfth place. Bob Paisley felt that he needed to make a serious adjustment to the team. He promoted Souness to captain in place of Phil Thompson, but at the cost of the players’ friendship.

The 1983/84 season turned out to be Souness’ last with the Reds, winning the League title for the third year in a row. Souness said his goodbyes to Liverpool in style by securing the League Cup against Everton with a great shot outside the penalty area and came second in the PFA’s Player of the Year voting. The club reached their fourth European Cup final by winning every away-leg. In the second-leg of the semi-final with Dinamo Bucharest, Souness was attacked verbally and physically by Rumanian players, incensed that he had broken the jaw of one of their colleagues in the first meeting at Anfield two weeks previously. He responded, as he usually did when the odds were stacked against him, with a performance of great discipline. The European Cup final turned out to be Souness’ farewell Liverpool appearance and he left on a high. Souness’ performance on that memorable night in the Italian capital undoubtedly helped secure his move to Sampdoria shortly afterwards. He received a warm welcome in Italy as he recollects. “Goodness knows what the other people on the aeroplane must have thought when we touched down for it was like a carnival time with what seemed to be thousands of people on the tarmac. There were flowers for my wife, kisses and hugs from old ladies and a Sampdoria shirt with a number eleven on the back was thrust into my hands.” He helped the club win the Italian Cup and scored in the final. After two successful years in Italy, he returned to his homeland to become player-manager at Glasgow Rangers and immediately set about the task of ensuring that they would become the club to beat in Scotland. “Forget Souness”, were Joe Fagan’s words as Liverpool came together in the 1984/85 season, emphasising the important role he had played in that team. Bruce Grobbelaar, Sammy Lee and Ronnie Whelan all acclaim Souness, not Dalglish, as the best-ever player they played with at Liverpool. As a player Souness had many remarkable years of success with numerous trophies and unforgettable performances. Souness deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest players ever to wear the famous red shirt.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 247 24 45 38 5 359
1977-1978 15 0 0 3 0 18
1978-1979 41 7 1 4 0 53
1979-1980 41 8 7 2 1 59
1980-1981 37 1 8 8 1 55
1981-1982 35 3 9 6 1 54
1982-1983 41 3 8 6 1 59
1983-1984 37 2 12 9 1 61

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
19 Arsenal
17 Ipswich Town
16 Nottingham Forest
15 Everton
15 Manchester United
15 Tottenham
13 Coventry City
13 Birmingham City
12 WBA
12 Norwich City
12 Manchester City
12 Aston Villa
10 Wolves
10 West Ham United
9 Brighton & Hove Albion
9 Stoke City
9 Middlesbrough
9 Southampton
8 Sunderland
8 Leeds United
5 Derby
5 Swansea City
5 Bristol City
5 Leicester City
5 Notts County
4 CSKA Sofia
4 Oulu Palloseura
4 Crystal Palace
4 Luton Town
4 Bolton Wanderers
4 Chelsea
3 Burnley
3 Fulham
3 Watford
2 Anderlecht
2 Dundalk
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Gladbach
2 Southend
2 Din. Bucharest
2 Brentford
2 Benfica
2 Tranmere Rovers
2 Dinamo Tbilisi
2 Bradford City
2 Aberdeen
2 Exeter City
2 Barnsley
2 Odense BK
2 HJK Helsinki
2 Widzew Lodz
2 AZ Alkmaar
2 Sheffield Wednesday
2 Blackburn Rovers
1 Rotherham United
1 Newcastle United
1 Bury
1 Walsall
1 Sheffield United
1 Portsmouth
1 Flamengo
1 Roma
1 Chesterfield
1 Grimsby Town
1 Real Madrid
1 Bruges
1 Swindon Town
1 Bayern Munich
Total Started/substitutions
357 Started
0 On the bench
2 Substitute
6 Substituted
Total Competition
247 League
45 League Cup
36 European Cup
24 FA Cup
4 Charity Shield
2 European Super Cup
1 World Club Championship

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 38 2 9 6 0 55
1977-1978 2 0 0 0 0 2
1978-1979 8 1 0 0 0 9
1979-1980 1 1 0 0 0 2
1980-1981 6 0 1 6 0 13
1981-1982 5 0 1 0 0 6
1982-1983 9 0 2 0 0 11
1983-1984 7 0 5 0 0 12

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
55 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
38 League
9 League Cup
6 European Cup
2 FA Cup
Total Goal minute period
5 1-15 minutes
11 16-30 minutes
10 31-45 minutes
7 61-75 minutes
9 76-90 minutes
1 91-120 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
52 Open play
3 Penalty

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 14.01.1978 WBA The Hawthorns League
50 21.02.1979 Norwich City Anfield League
100 26.12.1979 Manchester United Anfield League
150 25.10.1980 Arsenal Anfield League
200 24.10.1981 Manchester United Anfield League
250 02.10.1982 Ipswich Town Portman Road League
300 27.08.1983 Wolves Molineux League
350 11.04.1984 Din. Bucharest Anfield Europe

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 39 25.02.1978 Manchester United Anfield League
50 26 20.12.1983 Birmingham City St Andrews League Cup

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Anfield anguish for Souness

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Souness has the board's support

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Related Quotes

"Souness is Souness. Forget him. We have. He's gone. The three trophies we won last year, they've gone. Now we're starting afresh."

Joe Fagan in 1984

"He was a player you admire because he got the best out of you as well as himself. He had some battles in midfield with players and nobody got the better of Souness."

Alan Kennedy choosing his dream team on in 2003

"Souness was up on the exercise bike in the Liverpool training centre. The team doctor was present. Graeme asked the doctor to take his blood pressure. It was elevated. He went to see a specialist, who ran a number of tests. When the results came back, Graeme could hardly believe his eyes. Two of his arteries were 75% blocked; another was 90% blocked. He was whipped in for a triple by-pass!"

Alan Hansen

"If Graeme plays until his 100 he’ll never hit three more perfect shots in one match."

Ian St John about Souness’ strikes vs. CSKA Sofia on 4th of March 1981

"Graeme was my hero at Boro. He used to look after me as one of the boys and I’ll always be grateful to him. When he was transferred to Liverpool he even fixed up for me to have his digs at Middlesbrough. You can imagine how I felt when I succeeded him in the no. 4 shirt at Ayresome!"

Craig Johnston on Souness in 1982

"I nutmegged Souness once in training. He just laughed, but then the a few years later I did the same thing against him in a match and he elbowed me in the face."

Kevin Sheedy on his former team-mate at Liverpool and later adversary.

"As a kid you usually live in digs where there is someone to keep an eye on you but when I moved from Middlesbrough to Liverpool I was given a room in the Holiday Inn. This was the start of the third period of my life during which I very nearly managed to wreck my own career. I lived there for nine months and it was then I earned the nickname of Champagne Charlie.

The routine was quickly established. I would train at Melwood, go back for lunch and a few beers, get involved in a session at the cocktail bar, sleep between 4 and 7 p.m and then crawl back down for dinner. If that became a little too boring there was always a club open somewhere, where they were only too happy to have a Liverpool player gracing their bar or the dancefloor."

Souness got the nickname Champagne Charlie

"Being successful has always been more important to me than being popular. I long ago accepted that the name of Graeme Souness would top few popularity polls, regardless of whether the votes were cast by my fellow professionals or by the supporters. In that respect I suppose you could say that I have achieved my ambition for, thanks to Liverpool, I have a cupboard full of memories and scarcely a friend on the terraces or in the dressing room."

Souness on his reputation

"That first day at Anfield, 10 January 1978, was a revelation. It seems a long time now but I remember how normal and ordinary it all was, no prima donnas, no superstars. I made only one error on that first morning, I asked Tommy Smith if I could borrow his hairdryer (I know it’s hard to imagine tough guy Smithy with a hairdryer but it’s absolutely true) and he turned to Phil Neal and said pointedly: ‘Everyone is allowed one mistake’. I took my own in the future."

Graeme Souness

"Probably the most complete midfielder I've seen. I mean, Steven Gerrard is getting up there now and he's got a variation in his game but Souness was a born winner. I've seen a good few players in my time but Souness, if I saw him now, I'd shake his hand. You've got to remember what he did for this club in the six years he was here as a player."

Liverpool fan Dave Kirby on Graeme Souness

They set me up. Kenny got me booked and Souey got me sent off. They certainly set out to wind me up and they succeeded. They were crafty. I was wound up anyway going back to Merseyside and they did me a treat.

Steve McMahon was sent off playing for Aston Villa vs Liverpool on 17th September 1983

Champagne Charlie. You could imagine him as a low-rent James Bond, an elegant brute in the Daniel Craig fashion, with a seam of sadism running through him. God, he was a joy to watch. How he could pass - easily as well as Glenn Hoddle. But unlike Hoddle, Souness didn't need a minder. If you messed with him, you'd be sorry. Sometimes you didn't even need to mess with him. Yet the greatest part of his game is the stuff that went unnoticed. Most of his passes were 10 yards or less and, after releasing the ball, he'd invariably move into space to receive it back. The complete package. The finest of midfield players. Bad, bad manager though. Had more to do with 'knocking Liverpool off their perch' than Alex Ferguson.

Tony Evans from Times online on Graeme Souness

"‘Joe, I’ve been here a week and no-one has said anything to me. How does the manager want me to play?’ So Fagan raised his voice to ensure the whole dressing room could hear and replied: ‘F*** off! We spent all this money on you and now you’re asking me how to play football!’"

Graeme Souness was about to make his debut for Liverpool at West Brom when he leant across to Bob Paisley's assistant, Joe Fagan, asking apparently a rather stupid question. From Graham Hunter's interview with Souness.

When you're walking behind Souness and he's walking towards the enemy, 30-40,000 of them, with a big smile on his face... he actually wants to climb the face and stand even closer to them there's only one thing that happens. Your chest goes out and you just want to get in there as well. When you're playing for a captain like that and playing alongside a guy who was not just a great captain but a great player... what team do I want to play for? I think I'll take that one.

Steve Nicol on Souness on LFC's The Thursday Night Show in September 2016