Player profile

Alan Hansen

Birthdate: 13 June 1955
Birthplace: Sauchie, Scotland
Other clubs: Partick Thistle
Bought from: Partick Thistle
Signed for LFC: £100,000, 05.05.1977
International debut: 19.05.1979 vs. Wales
International caps: 26/0 - 18.02.1987
Liverpool debut: 24.09.1977
Last appearance: 28.04.1990
Debut goal: 19.10.1977
Last goal: 15.09.1987
Contract expiry: 01.03.1991
Win ratio: 58.87% W: 365 D: 149 L: 106
Honours: League Championship 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90; FA Cup 1986, 1989; League Cup 1981, 1983, 1984; European Cup 1978, 1981, 1984
LFC league games/goals: 434 / 8
Total LFC games/goals: 620 / 14

Player profile

Alan Hansen was not just an accomplished footballer. He was good enough to represent his country at junior level in golf, volleyball and squash. Two years after watching a Partick Thistle team that included his brother John beat firm favourites Glasgow Celtic in a Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park, Alan was playing for Partick himself and would make over a century of League appearances for The Jags, including helping them win promotion to the Scottish Premier League in 1976. Hansen was one of the triumvirate of Scottish players, the other two being Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness, signed by Bob Paisley within a 12-month period that would help to ensure that Liverpool's domination of the domestic and European scene in the mid-1970's would continue. An article in Shoot! shortly after his arrival said: "Hansen faces a tough battle for a first team spot with the established Anfield back-four men. But whoever he replaces, Liverpool fans can look forward with confidence to seeing one of the soccer's most talented young men in action. The big occasion brings out the best in Hansen and he says: "I'm really looking forward to life as a Liverpool player and I'm determined not to let them down.' It's unlikely he will do so..."

Hansen made his first-team debut for Liverpool against Derby County at Anfield towards the end of September 1977 prompting journalist Don Evans to note: "The man of the match, the lad who made his debut for Liverpool and came off a new Spion Kop hero, was the young Scot, Alan Hansen," giving him a nine out of ten. With the central-defensive pairing of Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes already established, Hansen's opportunities were limited during his first full season on Merseyside. But he still appeared in nearly half the League matches, 18, as well as a number of cup-ties. If disappointed to miss out on the League Cup final team narrowly defeated by Nottingham Forest after a replay, his consolation came in being picked in the starting line-up that would successfully defend the European Cup at Wembley against Bruges in the last match of the 1977/78 campaign. Hansen played left-back in that final but replaced Hughes in the centre of defence early in the 1978/79 season and after Emlyn left for Wolves in 1979 he started to make the position his own on a permanent basis. 1979 also saw the first of Hansen's eight Football League championship medals.

The Scotsman's teammates often remarked how calm he seemed before games that reflected in his cool and calculated play on the field. Hansen admits he suffered terribly from pre-match nerves but once he got on the field he was in his element. Hansen became known for dribbling the ball out of defence with style rather than hoof it upfield prompting Paisley to remark: 'He has given me more heart attacks than any player I have ever known.' Problems with his knees curtailed that aspect of his game from the 1985/86 season onwards being forced to subject himself to cortisone injections to be able to play. Hansen scored 14 goals for Liverpool but he only got once on the scoresheet in his last six years at the club as he was less inclined to attack. Hansen was hardly a battering ram of a central defender his vision allowing him to stay on his feet instead of crashing into attackers as he himself noted: "There are no prizes for guessing I was never sent off and hardly ever booked - most managers would say that this is a ridiculous record for a central defender."

Much cup success would come his way too as Liverpool again twice won the European Cup in 1981 and 1984 and domestically lifted the Football League cup four years in a row 1981-1984, although Hansen missed the second of those successes in 1982 through injury after scoring the winner in the previous season's final against West Ham. Hansen had to wait longer to be part of a successful team in the FA Cup. In 1986, he lifted the cup as player-manager Kenny Dalglish's new club captain. By then he had a new partner in central defence, Mark Lawrenson, who had replaced Phil Thompson in the 1982/83 season. Lawrenson and Hansen complemented each other perfectly but Hansen says of the three central defenders he played with at Liverpool, the third being Gary Gillespie, he and Thompson had the best understanding. Pundits might joke they were hardly a conventional central pair as it was perceived that neither of them could tackle but their superior ability in reading the game made their communication almost telepathic. Hansen feels Lawrenson lacked positional sense whereas that was Thompson's greatest strength as well as being a great header of the ball.

Hansen played in the infamous 1985 European Cup Final against Juventus in Brussels and was also involved in the greatest tragedy of all at Hillsborough. Out with a knee injury for most of the 1988/89 season and having watched Ronnie Whelan take over the captaincy of the team in his absence, Hansen was dramatically recalled for the semi-final in Sheffield that ended in such tragic circumstances that it defies belief. He played in the re-arranged match against Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford three weeks later; and also in the emotional Wembley final against Merseyside rivals Everton, although it was Whelan who was given the honour of collecting the trophy after Liverpool's 3-2 extra-time success.

Hansen was 34 years old by the time a new season started and remained relatively injury-free to captain the club to yet another League championship title in 1990. The wear and tear of his knees didn't allow him to make a single first-team appearance in 1990/91. He played five reserve games from October to December 1990 but if he wanted to be able to walk properly in the future he was advised to pack it in. Hansen was offered a coaching position at Liverpool which he tried out for a couple of months but he didn't feel comfortable as a coach and told Liverpool he wanted a clean break from the game. He announced his retirement as a player shortly after Dalglish stood down as manager in March 1991. Hansen was tipped by many to take over the manager's job at Anfield but despite his enormous affection for Liverpool Football Club, he has no interest in returning to the sport. "Dalglish and Souness live and breathe football in a way that I never have, there again, in my last season as captain, I wasn't getting any sleep at night, worrying about three points here and three points there," he says. "And at 2.15 on a Saturday I used to go back and forth to the toilet 45 times. So I knew management wasn't for me." What he has done though is to emerge as a knowledgeable football analyst, principally for the BBC as part of their regular "Match Of The Day" team.

Hansen ought to have received far more than the 26 senior caps he was given by Scotland. He went to the 1982 World Cup in Spain but despite being at or close to his peak as a player was left out of the Scottish squad that went to Mexico four years later. It is doubtful if he has too many regrets at his lack of international opportunities. As a club player, he was one of the most accomplished and decorated footballers of his generation. You don't play over six hundred competitive matches for one club without being good at your job! Alan Hansen was one of the best defenders to ever play in the English League and his impact and influence on the club's phenomenal success during the thirteen seasons he represented Liverpool can never be understated.

Appearances per season

1977-1978 18134026
1978-1979 34602042
1979-1980 38851153
1980-1981 36089154
1981-1982 35385152
1982-1983 34386152
1983-1984 422139167
1984-1985 417210262
1985-1986 41870460
1986-1987 39390253
1987-1988 39730049
1988-1989 620008
1989-1990 31820142

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

28Nottingham Forest
28Manchester United
23Coventry City
21Aston Villa
21Ipswich Town
21Norwich City
20West Ham United
18Manchester City
15Stoke City
15Luton Town
13Birmingham City
10Leicester City
10Sheffield Wednesday
10Brighton & Hove Albion
9Newcastle United
7Crystal Palace
7Leeds United
6Oxford United
5Notts County
5Swansea City
4Bolton Wanderers
4Blackburn Rovers
4Bristol City
4Charlton Athletic
4Oulu Palloseura
4York City
3CSKA Sofia
2Oldham Athletic
2Odense BK
2Bradford City
2HJK Helsinki
2Widzew Lodz
2Exeter City
2Din. Bucharest
2Dyn. Dresden
2Bayern Munich
2Athletic Bilbao
2AZ Alkmaar
2Lech Poznan
2Austria Vienna
2Wigan Athletic
1Stockport County
1Swindon Town
1Grimsby Town
1Real Madrid
1Tranmere Rovers
1Dinamo Tbilisi
1Rotherham United
Total Started/substitutions
618 Started
9 On the bench
2 Substitute
11 Substituted

Goals per season

1977-1978 000101
1978-1979 110002
1979-1980 400004
1980-1981 101103
1981-1982 010102
1982-1983 000000
1983-1984 100001
1984-1985 000000
1985-1986 000000
1986-1987 000000
1987-1988 100001
1988-1989 000000
1989-1990 000000

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

3European Cup
2FA Cup
1League Cup
TotalGoal minute period
31-15 minutes
116-30 minutes
331-45 minutes
146-60 minutes
461-75 minutes
276-90 minutes
TotalOpen play/Penalty
14Open play

Wartime Appearances / Goals

No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

124.09.1977Derby AnfieldLeague
5006.03.1979Coventry CityHighfield RoadLeague
10019.02.1980Nottingham ForestAnfieldLeague
15029.11.1980SunderlandRoker ParkLeague
20002.01.1982Swansea CityVetch FieldFA Cup
25028.12.1982SunderlandRoker ParkLeague
30012.11.1983TottenhamWhite Hart LaneLeague
40027.04.1985Ipswich TownPortman RoadLeague
45018.02.1986York CityAnfieldFA Cup
50024.01.1987Newcastle UnitedAnfieldLeague
55023.01.1988Charlton AthleticSelhurst ParkLeague
60009.01.1990Swansea CityAnfieldFA Cup

Milestone Goals

11419.10.1977Dyn. DresdenAnfieldEurope

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Related Quotes

"Alan Hansen is the defender with the pedigree of an international striker. He is quite simply the most skilful centre-half I have ever seen in the British game. He is a joy to watch. Alan has always been an excellent footballer, a beautifully balanced player who carries the ball with control and grace.

He has a very measured, long stride and is much faster than he looks. I can't think more than a couple of players who could beat him over 100 metres. He has both the ability and the patience to launch attacks from deep positions."

Bob Paisley on Alan Hansen

"There are no prizes for guessing I was never sent off and hardly ever booked - most managers would say that this is a ridiculous record for a central defender."

Alan Hansen

"Carragher is 10 times a better defender than I could ever be. He is a completely different player. He is a great defender whereas I was not. My strengths were on the ball, positional sense and recovery pace. The way he held Chelsea at bay was unbelievable. I'm sitting there in awe of how many times he intercepted, blocked and covered. I think if we look at Liverpool greats over the years - and there have been a lot of them - Carragher is up there with the best of them."

Alan Hansen in May 2005

"Benitez appears to have too many considerations in his mind when he picks his team. He thinks about who Liverpool are playing next week, if his players are tired, how they played last week and how their opponents play.

But the guys that I played under at Liverpool would simply have picked their best team and Benitez needs to do that for the next five or six games and hope that his players play themselves out of their poor run. The fact that he has only named one unchanged team in 153 games amazes me, so I guess the chances of him now keeping the same team for six games are pie in the sky.

There is no question that rotation has to happen in the modern game, but my experience is that tiredness doesn't affect players when they are winning, yet if you tell a player he is tired, then he will be. It is all psychological. When I was at Liverpool, we never heard the word 'tired'.

The one trophy that everybody at Liverpool wants more than any other is the Premier League and that is why people will suddenly grasp any belief that this could be the year. And despite the recent poor performances, let's not forget that Liverpool have still not lost a Premier League game this season.

Benitez's ideas about rotation revolve around having his players fit and fresh towards the end of the season, yet when it comes down to it, there is no point having your players fit and flying when there is nothing left to play for."

Alan Hansen's take on Benítez' rotation in October 2007

"He has given me more heart attacks than any player I have ever known."

Bob Paisley on Alan Hansen's tendency to dribble out of defence, more often than not successfully, we might add.

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