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
LFC league games/goals: 434 / 8
Total LFC games/goals: 620 / 14
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.