Birthdate: 27 November 1942
Birthplace: Carlisle, England
Other clubs: Preston North End (1959-63), Bolton Wanderers (1973-78)
Bought from: Preston North End
Signed for LFC: £37,000, 14.08.1963
International debut: 17.05.1964 vs. Portugal
International caps: 16/0 - 25.04.1970
Liverpool debut: 24.08.1963
Last appearance: 22.01.1972
Debut goal: 16.09.1963
Last goal: 10.04.1971
Contract expiry: 05.01.1974
Win ratio: 51.92% W:216 D:105 L:95
Games/goals ratio: 7.7
Honours: League Championship 1963/64, 1965/66; FA Cup 1965
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 5 / 1
LFC league games/goals: 322 / 41
Total LFC games/goals: 416 / 54
Player profileThompson was the great schoolboy star of his day and was pursued by almost every top club in the country when the time came to leave school. He became a regular first division player at 17 for Preston, making his debut against Arsenal on 30 August 1960 after Tom Finney's retirement. Bill Shankly had been impressed by the speed and trickery of the young winger during a marathon fifth round FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Preston in February 1962 which went to a second replay at Old Trafford. After two goalless draws the deadlock was finally broken by Thompson when the ballfell invitingly for him and he hit it straight back past 'keeper Bert Slater to claim a famous win. Thompson was a regular for three seasons for Preston and following relegation from their only top-flight season during his spell there the 20-year-old moved to Liverpool for £37,000. He almost messed up his transfer to the Reds with an inappropriate request as he told LFChistory.net. "I went to Anfield from Preston and there were thousands of people outside. I got my way through to the front door and Shankly is there. 'Why are all these here for?', I asked. 'You!', Shankly thundered. 'You? 'Me?', I gasped. He took me all around Melwood. He showed me Anfield. Took me to the office. The Chairman came in: 'Could you sign here?' 'Actually Mr. Shankly, I would like a signing-on fee.' 'You what? I am giving you the chance to play in the greatest city in the greatest team that is going to be in the world and you want illegal money. Get out!' 'Give me the pen,' I said. So I signed. Best thing I ever did."
The Preston lad was an amazing right-footed left winger, who tormented full-backs having spent countless hours on the training ground perfecting crossing with his left on the right side. Which way was Tommo going to go? His opponents didn't have a clue and most of the time his teammates didn't know what to expect either. Liverpool was envied by other teams for possessing such a powerful pairing on opposing flanks as Thompson and Callaghan. Thompson went straight into Liverpool's first team on his arrival and played in all 42 League games as the club won the title by four points. He won another championship medal in 1966 as well being part of the first Liverpool team to win the FA Cup the year before. Thompson came to Alf Ramsey's attention and would surely have won more than just 16 caps had the then England boss not decided to axe traditional wing play in favour of his own tactics. Who can argue with him after England's World Cup win in 1966? Thompson was desperately unlucky at international level, first in 1966 and then again in 1970 being named in the initial World Cup squad of 28 players before losing out both times as one of the "unlucky six".
Thompson had avoided any major injuries and only missed twelve League games in seven and a half seasons when he suffered an injury in December 1970 and was out until March 1971. He recovered in time to come off the bench to replace Alun Evans in the 1971 FA Cup final against Arsenal and provided Steve Heighway with the opening goal in the second minute of extra-time. Unfortunately, was not enough to win the game. Thompson started the first seven League games of the 1971/72 season but an injury forced him out and once he was match-fit again he only appeared sporadically in the first team and spent the rest of the season languishing in the reserves. Thompson didn't make a single first-team appearance for Liverpool in his last two years at the club. He suffered from serious knee injuries and was ignored by his boss Shankly who famously had no time for injured players. "When my day was up Shankly was horrible. He treated me like a son for about nine years," Thompson revealed to LFChistory.net. "I had two operations on my left knee. When I had my second operation the specialist said: 'You'll never play again.' I got upset. I was only thirty. 'When you train hard, your knee will blow up.' So when I went back to Liverpool, the boss said: 'You are knackered. You are finished.' 'Who are you talking to, me?,' I responded. That's how he was. 'People are working on the docks to pay you money,' he told me. 'You are a cripple!'" Shankly wouldn't pay Thompson's contract up and in the end the Liverpool idol couldn't motivate himself to go to training. "Steve Heighway was doing fabulous. I am not going in having Shankly swear at me," Thompson explained. Jimmy Armfield at second division Bolton took a chance on Thompson and acquired him on loan in December 1973. He signed for Bolton a month later for £18,000 and is considered one of the biggest bargain buys in the club's history. Thompson retired in April 1978 after Bolton won the second division title, having played 132 matches in his indian summer.
Rarely has a footballer with as much natural ability worn the shirt of Liverpool and Peter Thompson is in a class only reserved for a select few. Shankly didn't have a problem with his former talisman after he left Liverpool, as he was no longer a burden on the club's payroll, and sang his praises in Thompson's testimonial brochure: "His work rate was outstanding, his fitness unequalled, his balance like a ballet dancer. I have no hesitation in placing Peter up among the all-time greats – alongside such players as Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews and George Best. They say he didn’t score enough goals, they said his final pass wasn’t telling enough. Well, if he had scored goals as well as everything else he did, he would have been in the same category as Jesus Christ!"
Appearances per season
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
|15||West Ham United|
Goals per season
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
|3||West Ham United|
|4||European Fairs Cup|
|1||European Cup Winners Cup|
|Total||Goal minute period|
|1||24.08.1963||Blackburn Rovers||Ewood Park||League|
|100||01.05.1965||Leeds United||Wembley||FA Cup|
|300||22.02.1969||West Ham United||Upton Park||League|
|350||11.02.1970||Leicester City||Filbert Street||FA Cup|
Jimmy McGovern wrote the screenplay for "Hillsborough", his wonderfully evocative screenplay about the eponymous 1989 tragedy.More
When asked if I was ready to take a 550-mile round trip to spend a couple of hours with Peter Thompson in Kent, I said instantly 'Yes, I am going all-in.'More
Interview with Preston's and Liverpool's flying winger published 31 March 2009 on Preston North End's official website. More
Liverpool Echo match report on Blackburn - Liverpool on 24 August 1963.More
Ron Yeats' column in the Liverpool Echo on 31 August 1963.More
The relationship between Bill Shankly and the two-footed wizard winger, Peter Thompson, was quite complicated. More
A press article from Liverpool Echo and Daily Express on the 18th of April 1964.More
John Martin talks about his favourite players on the left hand side of Liverpool throughout his years supporting the Reds.More
John Martin remembers the fateful 1961/62 Liverpool season when the Reds got back into the top division.More
The Coventry Evening Telegraph report on Liverpool - Coventry City on 12.01.1970.More
How do you take over from a living legend?, is the first question Bob Paisley poses in his profile of the Liverpool great, Peter Thompson.More
Peter Thompson almost messed up his transfer to Liverpool.More
Forty years ago today Liverpool played their first European game in Iceland of all places.More
"Peter Thompson, the former Liverpool and England winger was the smartest dressed player of all time. He used to turn up for training at Bolton looking immaculate."
Peter Reid in 1985
"Those who have seen the boy pressed me to watch him and I was tremendously impressed with both his skill and maturity. He had so much of Finney about him and seems certain to go straight to the top."
Walter Winterbottom England manager on young star Peter Thompson at Preston before he joined Liverpool
"Without a doubt, Peter Thompson. He was awesome and the things he could do, half the time he didn’t know himself what he was doing. He had such pace and ability on the wing."
Willie Stevenson on the best player he ever played with, Peter Thompson.
"If I could play between Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson I’d still get my 60 goals a season."
Goalscoring legend Dixie Dean asked if he could have set his scoring record in modern football.
"He showed so much quality in training and in playing. I’ve rarely seen a youngster who could read a game so well. I’m sure he’ll be a great midfield player."
Former great Bertie Auld could see the potiental of young Peter Thompson at Preston
"My Dad taught me how to spit surreptitiously by flicking the back of my tongue to cause an almost invisible spray. "There's only me, you and Peter Thompson who know how to do this," he said. Peter Thompson knew how to do things nobody else could do, so it had the ring of truth to it. What a winger! Even Dixie Dean drooled when watching him, the Everton hero claiming that he would have surpassed his record of 60 league goals in a season if he'd have played between Thompson and Ian Callaghan."
Tony Evans from Times online captures the essence of Peter Thompson in a funny way
- A'Court not done despite Thompson on his way to Anfield - August 1963
- Anfield applauds a new midfield general - Football Monthly November 1971
- Cartoon of Peter from The Kop magazine on 8 March 1967
- Cultured destroyer Thompson cuts loose - press report on Liverpool - Coventry on 12 January 1970
- England must watch Thompson - 5 October 1963
- LFC Official Matchday Magazine interview 2000/01
- Liverpool's victory over Chelsea in 65 semi - LFC Official Matchday Magazine
- Off the ball
- Peter hoping to make the 1971 final
- Peter Thompson on the cover of the Football Monthly November 1964
- Peter Thompson on the cover of the Football Monthly September 1967
- Poster from 1969
- Poster from Jimmy Hill Football Weekly
- Poster in Football Monthly 1967
- Poster of Peter Thompson
- Star Choice
- Star Strip - Cartoon of Peter Thompson in Football Monthly May 1968
- Star Strip 1968
- Stephen Done's column in Liverpool's match programme
- Thompson axed for the 1971 FA Cup final
- Thompson gem hint for final! - 10 April 1971
- Thompson missed out on the 1970 World Cup finals
- Thompson on the cover of Soccerstar - 19 June 1970
- Thompson revisited - LFC Fan Club Magazine
- Thompson signs for the Reds! - August 1963
- Thompson stars in classic- 10 October 1970
- Thompson tops five-goal show - 5 October 1963
- Thompson will be new toast of Anfield - 24 August 1963
- Where are they now? - Liverpool club magazine
- Wonder goal by Thompson - 1 October 1970
|Club||Season||Club rank||League apps||League goals||Total apps||Total goals|
|Preston North End||1960-1961||England First Division||38||7||46||12|
|Preston North End||1961-1962||England Second Division||42||9||53||15|
|Preston North End||1962-1963||England Second Division||42||4||47||4|
|Bolton Wanderers||1973-1974||England Second Division||24||0||27||0|
|Bolton Wanderers||1974-1975||England Second Division||41||1||45||1|
|Bolton Wanderers||1975-1976||England Second Division||38||1||44||1|
|Bolton Wanderers||1976-1977||England Second Division||11||0||12||0|
|Bolton Wanderers||1977-1978||England Second Division||3||0||4||0|