Player profile

Phil Thompson

Phil Thompson

Birthdate: 21 January 1954
Birthplace: Kirkby, Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Sheffield United (loan 1984-85 + transfer 1985-86)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: April 1970 - Professional 22.01.1971
International debut: 24.03.1976 vs. Wales
International caps: 42/1 - 17.11.1982
Liverpool debut: 03.04.1972
Last appearance: 20.08.1983
Debut goal: 04.09.1973
Last goal: 04.09.1979
Contract expiry: March 1985
Win ratio: 56.81% W:271 D:129 L:77
Honours: League Championship 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83; FA Cup 1974; League Cup 1981, 1982; European Cup 1978, 1981; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976
LFC league games/goals: 340 / 7
Total LFC games/goals: 477 / 13

Player profile

Tommo is one of the greatest characters who has graced Liverpool's shirt and one of the most decorated players in English football history. He signed professional forms for his hometown club in January 1971 and made his debut at Old Trafford on Easter Monday 1972, coming on as a substitute for John Toshack after the big Welshman had put Liverpool into a commanding 2-0 lead. Thompson gained some useful experience during the 'double' League and UEFA Cup triumph year of 1972/73. He started out as a midfielder in the team and just qualified for his first championship medal by making 14 first division appearances, but by the opening day of the next season which was Bill Shankly's last as Liverpool manager, he had become an established part of Liverpool's centre of defence. Thompson's style was more continental than that of Larry Lloyd and most of his fellow British professionals. His distribution from defence was first class and he fitted well beside Emlyn Hughes. Thompson added to his already impressive medal collection when he was in the Liverpool side that conquered Newcastle 3-0 at Wembley in the 1974 FA Cup Final. Fired up by Malcolm MacDonald's boasts about how he would terrorise Liverpool's defence, Thompson showed astonishing maturity and composure at the tender age of 20 to effectively reduce the twin-threat that MacDonald and his strike-partner John Tudor posed.

The Reds finished as League runners-up to Derby County in 1974/75 as Bob Paisley came to terms with managing a top club side. It would be the last season without a trophy and winners' medal of one kind or another for the rest of Thompson's time or for that matter Paisley's time as Liverpool manager. In 1975/76 the club repeated its 1973 success at home and in Europe and this time Thompson could share in the 'double' triumph. He only missed one League match and scored the winning goal from close range in the UEFA Cup semi-final against Barcelona which took the club through to the final with Bruges, whom they narrowly beat 4-3 on aggregate to secure the giant trophy. To top off a remarkable year of personal success, Thompson was capped at full international level by England for the first time. He would eventually go on to win 42 caps at senior level and captain the team on six occasions. By now firmly-established in the Liverpool team, Thompson won his third first division championship medal in 1977 but missed out on the club's great triumph in Rome due to a cartilage operation. A year later it was Smith who missed the European Cup final due to injury, but it was Alan Hansen who replaced him in the team for the showdown with Bruges at Wembley. Thompson's place was never in doubt during the second part of that season and after an uncharacteristic error by Hansen near the end of the game when his woeful back-pass had goalkeeper Ray Clemence in all sorts of trouble, it was Thompson who redeemed the situation and protected Liverpool's narrow lead by clearing the ball off the line.

Successive championships followed in 1979 and 1980 with Thompson only missing three League games in the first of those seasons and being an ever-present in the second. In April 1979 the Kirkby lad was given the ultimate honour of captaining the team. Thompson's biggest moment in his Liverpool career came two years later when it was he who walked up the steps first in Paris to collect the club's third European Cup in 1981 after the 1-0 victory over Real Madrid. However, later that year he lost the captaincy to Souness. Thompson won his sixth and seventh championship medals in 1982 and 1983, as well as winning another League Cup winners' medal in 1982 although he missed the chance to play in the 1983 final with Manchester United because of injury. Thompson was by now approaching his thirtieth birthday and the younger Mark Lawrenson had become Hansen's partner at the heart of Liverpool's defence. Thompson eventually brought the curtain down on a wonderful playing career at Anfield by agreeing to join Sheffield United in March 1985, after being on loan at Bramall Lane for four months.

Thompson returned to Liverpool as reserve coach in 1986 replacing Chris Lawler. Robbie Fowler remembers he was a strict taskmaster. "Phil Thompson was a coach who would push youngsters to see how tough they were, and a lot of the young lads coming through despised him for it. I'm amazed he never got properly sparked out there." Thompson had been raised on Ronnie Moran: "Ronnie was my mentor and he was very, very hard at times, but it was the Liverpool way," Thompson said. Thompson stayed on as coach until Souness sacked him infamously in 1993. Tommo returned again to Liverpool as assistant manager in 1998. "We were all training for these Masters games they have on SKY television. It was not far from the ground. One morning I get a phone call just out of the blue from Peter Robinson. He said: 'I'd like you to come to a meeting.' 'When?' He said: 'Right now. Do you know where the Chairman lives?' When I got up to the chairman's house they were all sitting there. They said: 'Well, we would like you to be assistant manager.' I felt absolutely thrilled. Imagine, assistant manager of Liverpool? It was just a dream come true." Houllier wanted more discipline from his camp than any Liverpool player had been used to and Thompson made sure everybody was doing their best. Thompson had filled every role at the club except as manager, but was left to lead Liverpool when Houllier was recuperating from his heart operation, guiding the club to a respectable second in the League in the 2001/02 season. Thompson left after the Frenchman's reign finished six years later.

"I regard Phil as one of the best possible examples of a true professional. His greatest asset as a player is his ability to read the game, he showed that gift even as a teenager. He is not the biggest man physically for his role in defence but his football brain is outstanding." – Bob Paisley.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 340 36 43 50 8 477
1971-1972 1 0 0 0 0 1
1972-1973 14 2 1 3 0 20
1973-1974 35 9 4 3 0 51
1974-1975 32 2 1 1 1 37
1975-1976 41 2 3 11 0 57
1976-1977 26 4 2 3 1 36
1977-1978 27 1 7 7 1 43
1978-1979 39 6 1 3 0 49
1979-1980 42 8 7 2 1 60
1980-1981 25 1 6 7 1 40
1981-1982 34 1 7 5 1 48
1982-1983 24 0 4 5 1 34
1983-1984 0 0 0 0 1 1
1984-1985 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
24 Arsenal
21 Manchester City
20 Ipswich Town
20 Manchester United
20 Coventry City
19 Nottingham Forest
18 Tottenham
17 Norwich City
16 Everton
15 Wolves
15 West Ham United
15 Leicester City
14 Birmingham City
14 Leeds United
14 Middlesbrough
14 Stoke City
13 WBA
12 Derby
11 Aston Villa
10 Southampton
9 Newcastle United
9 QPR
8 Burnley
8 Bristol City
7 Chelsea
7 Crystal Palace
6 Sheffield United
6 Brighton & Hove Albion
5 Sunderland
4 Bolton Wanderers
4 Carlisle United
4 Oulu Palloseura
3 Bruges
3 Exeter City
3 Swansea City
3 Luton Town
2 Hull City
2 Doncaster Rovers
2 Watford
2 Real Sociedad
2 AZ Alkmaar
2 Notts County
2 HJK Helsinki
2 Hamburg SV
2 Benfica
2 Tranmere Rovers
2 Dinamo Tbilisi
2 Bradford City
2 Aberdeen
2 CSKA Sofia
2 Barnsley
2 Dundalk
2 Slask Wroclaw
2 Barcelona
2 Trabzonspor
2 Gladbach
2 Southend
2 Dyn. Dresden
2 Jeunesse d'Esch
1 Brentford
1 Swindon Town
1 Saint-Étienne
1 Hibernian
1 Bayern Munich
1 AEK Athens
1 Dynamo Berlin
1 Red Star Belgrade
1 Strømsgodset
1 York City
1 Chesterfield
1 Widzew Lodz
1 Flamengo
1 Grimsby Town
1 Real Madrid
1 Anderlecht
1 Wrexham
1 Oldham Athletic
1 Rotherham United
1 Bury
Total Started/substitutions
470 Started
29 On the bench
7 Substitute
10 Substituted
Total Competition
340 League
43 League Cup
36 FA Cup
32 European Cup
14 UEFA Cup
7 Charity Shield
3 European Super Cup
1 World Club Championship
1 European Cup Winners Cup

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 7 0 1 5 0 13
1971-1972 0 0 0 0 0 0
1972-1973 0 0 0 0 0 0
1973-1974 2 0 0 0 0 2
1974-1975 0 0 0 2 0 2
1975-1976 0 0 0 2 0 2
1976-1977 2 0 0 0 0 2
1977-1978 3 0 0 1 0 4
1978-1979 0 0 0 0 0 0
1979-1980 0 0 1 0 0 1
1980-1981 0 0 0 0 0 0
1981-1982 0 0 0 0 0 0
1982-1983 0 0 0 0 0 0
1983-1984 0 0 0 0 0 0
1984-1985 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
13 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
7 League
2 European Cup Winners Cup
2 UEFA Cup
1 European Super Cup
1 League Cup
Total Goal minute period
1 1-15 minutes
2 16-30 minutes
1 31-45 minutes
4 61-75 minutes
2 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
13 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 03.04.1972 Manchester United Old Trafford League
50 19.01.1974 Stoke City Victoria Ground League
100 15.03.1975 Sheffield United Anfield League
150 28.02.1976 Derby Baseball Ground League
200 26.02.1977 Oldham Athletic Anfield FA Cup
250 02.09.1978 Tottenham Anfield League
300 04.09.1979 Tranmere Rovers Anfield League Cup
350 26.04.1980 Crystal Palace Selhurst Park League
400 19.09.1981 Aston Villa Anfield League
450 18.09.1982 Swansea City Vetch Field League

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 35 04.09.1973 Derby Anfield League

Related Articles

Thommo salutes impact of Mr Liverpool

Celebrating 50 years of Shankly. Interview By Louise Goulding on 30 November 2009.More

Shoot! Super Focus on Phil Thompson

A nostalgic look at a Shoot profile of Thommo.More

Phil Thompson - Coach of his beloved Reds

One week ago we featured the first part of our Tommo exclusive. Now he talks to us about his time as coach and manager of Liverpool.More

Phil Thompson - Kirkby lad who gave his all

This is the first part of our exclusive interview with the great Phil Thompson. Now we focus on his playing career, reflecting on his coaching years in our second part published a week from now.More

McDermott arrives in James Bond style

Phil Thompson explains in his autobiography how Terry Mac's arrival at Liverpool came about. More

Boss Shankly didn't have a clue what the result was!

Liverpool drew West Ham 2-2 in the penultimate league game of the 1973-1974 season. Phil Thompson recalls a funny incident after the final whistle with Bill Shankly who clearly was oblivious to the result.More

Double Up - Neal and Thompson get the perm

The years 1977-1978 carried many alarming changes in society and Phil Thompson created an alarming trend at Liverpool.More

Paisley explains his controversial decision

Rarely does the manager change his captain after the season starts. When Gerrard replaced Hyypia on 15th of October 2003 it was by no means a unique occurance at Anfield. More

Related Quotes

"Phil whistles all the time during a game. And then suddenly he was searching for something in the grass. 'Phil, what are you doing?' I said. I thought it might be superstition or something. And then he showed me his teeth in his hand. He'd been whistling and they'd fallen out."

Houllier on his return to management in the Roma game

"I missed the 1977 final because I’d had a cartilage operation. Obviously I rejoiced in everything about the game itself, but it was disappointing not being fit to play."

Phil Thompson

"In 1984, 17 players travelled but I was left out of the 16 man squad. That hurt me immensely at the time. I sat in the stands but there was no-one more vocal watching the game, I promise."

Phil Thompson, he missed the 1984 Euro final

"Gerard and I first met in Valencia in 1998, It brings back some good memories for us because it's there were it all started really. I was introduced to Gerard by the late Tom Saunders in a Valencia hotel. I was working for the media at the time, but within a few weeks of that meeting I was back at the club."

Phil Thompson, when he first met Houllier

"This has gone on for far too long now. I know how views can be presented, but with Ian its all one way. What Ian should remember is from 1966-73 we never won a competition. He was part of that. He will remember he was a part of the team which lost to Watford in the FA Cup. That was a team which went down without a fight. That was a team I loved - a team which brought great honour and credit to the club over many years. I'm not stupid. You don't want people to talk ignorantly or only ever say supportive things about the team and players. But what you come to expect is constructive criticism."

Phil Thompson, as Houllier’s assistant, was getting annoyed at St John’s criticism of the team

"Phil Thompson was a coach who would push youngsters to see how tough they were, and a lot of the young lads coming through f***ing despised him for it. I'm amazed he never got properly sparked out there. One time I thought it was really going to kick off in the dressing room when he was the reserve boss, when he started having a right go at a young striker called Wayne Harrison, who Liverpool had bought from Oldham and had high hopes for. Wayne answered back, so Tommo starts on with the ole s**** about putting your medals on the table. So Wayne snapped back at him, 'No, f*** it, let's put our f***ing toes on the table.' Tommo has only got four on one foot, so you can imagine how ballistic he went. Everyone else in the dressing room was pissing themselves and trying to push their fists in their mouths to muffle the noise, because obviously he wasn't the sort of coach you wanted to do that with."

Robbie Fowler's great story about Phil Thompson

"Nobody likes being criticised, particularly by players who will be in Disneyland this summer on their holidays rather than the World Cup in Japan"

Phil Thompson replying Frank De Boer's criticism of LFC.

"Phil is the best back four player in the country. He reads the game brilliantly and never panics no matter what."

Emlyn Hughes in 1977 on Phil Thompson

"Aye, Phil Thompson. The boy tossed up with a sparrow for his legs and lost."

Bill Shankly on Tommo

After the Everton game we would only lose two more league games to the year-end, against Arsenal on December 2 and Bristol City on December 18. It was in the middle of all of this that the club named a new captain with Emlyn Hughes in and out of the team. They turned to Kenny Dalglish and I must admit that I was a bit miffed. So were some of the others. Terry Mac could not understand the logic and nor could Phil Neal who said: 'I just can’t understand , Thommo. It is your right to be captain of this football team.'

I suppose no one has a right. You have to earn it, but I had worked hard and had hoped that my chance would come with Emlyn’s games few and far between. I don’t think Kenny took to being skipper, but I still began to question myself....

Emlyn had been back in the side for another spell, playing at left-back with Phil Neal on the right and Jocky Hansen and myself in the middle. Then Emlyn succumbed to another injury that was to finish his career with Liverpool. It was April 7, 1979. An hour before our home game with Arsenal Bob Paisley started to name the team. I was fully expecting Kenny to be captain, but Bob turned round and said: 'Phil, you will lead the team today.' I was stunned. I always thought my chance would come, but not on that day. I never asked Bob or Kenny about the change of heart."

Phil Thompson explains in his autobiography how he got the Liverpool captaincy

Gerard told me at the end of our time: 'Phil, if you ever go to another football club in your work, first thing you must do, because you run the club, is to think: 'What is your legacy?' We changed the face of the football club from being on the front pages and took it to the back pages again. We were a proper football club again. We brought the club back from the players. We left one of the best training grounds in Europe. New people who come in will say: 'What a good job they did' and we did.

In the Liverpool Echo when we finished they had: '10 million pounds of cost to get rid of us.' They had pictures of us in the newspaper like we were criminals. That was absolutely dreadful. We put the smiles back on the faces of the Liverpool fans. We had the first European final for many years. People had only heard of the legends of European finals. We beat Manchester United in the League cup. That wasn't anything to be sniffed at. We had a wonderful day down at Cardiff. Over the few years we were there we gave some fantastic times. We were going down to Cardiff on a regular basis so it wasn't a failure. We were a part of the history of the club. We came, we served, we left. The club needs to move on. If people think that we took the club as far as we can, no problem, maybe it was."

Phil Thompson on his time with Houllier in an exclusive interview with LFChistory.net

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Sheffield United 1984-1985 England Second Division 10 0 11 0
Sheffield United 1985-1986 England Second Division 27 0 31 0
Total 37 0 42 0
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