Player profile

Alan Hansen

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

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 434 58 68 46 14 620
1977-1978 18 1 3 4 0 26
1978-1979 34 6 0 2 0 42
1979-1980 38 8 5 1 1 53
1980-1981 36 0 8 9 1 54
1981-1982 35 3 8 5 1 52
1982-1983 34 3 8 6 1 52
1983-1984 42 2 13 9 1 67
1984-1985 41 7 2 10 2 62
1985-1986 41 8 7 0 4 60
1986-1987 39 3 9 0 2 53
1987-1988 39 7 3 0 0 49
1988-1989 6 2 0 0 0 8
1989-1990 31 8 2 0 1 42

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
33 Everton
32 Arsenal
28 Nottingham Forest
28 Manchester United
26 Tottenham
24 Southampton
23 Coventry City
21 Aston Villa
21 Ipswich Town
21 Norwich City
20 West Ham United
20 QPR
18 Manchester City
16 Chelsea
15 Stoke City
15 Luton Town
14 WBA
13 Birmingham City
13 Watford
10 Leicester City
10 Sheffield Wednesday
10 Wolves
10 Sunderland
10 Brighton & Hove Albion
9 Middlesbrough
9 Derby
9 Newcastle United
8 Wimbledon
7 Crystal Palace
7 Leeds United
6 Oxford United
5 Notts County
5 Benfica
5 Swansea City
5 Fulham
4 Bolton Wanderers
4 Blackburn Rovers
4 Bristol City
4 Charlton Athletic
4 Oulu Palloseura
4 York City
3 CSKA Sofia
3 Barnsley
3 Portsmouth
2 Oldham Athletic
2 Walsall
2 Burnley
2 Odense BK
2 Aberdeen
2 Bradford City
2 HJK Helsinki
2 Widzew Lodz
2 Millwall
2 Exeter City
2 Southend
2 Din. Bucharest
2 Dyn. Dresden
2 Brentford
2 Dundalk
2 Bayern Munich
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Juventus
2 Anderlecht
2 AZ Alkmaar
2 Lech Poznan
2 Austria Vienna
2 Panathinaikos
2 Wigan Athletic
1 Independiente
1 Flamengo
1 Stockport County
1 Bruges
1 Swindon Town
1 Grimsby Town
1 Real Madrid
1 Roma
1 Tranmere Rovers
1 Dinamo Tbilisi
1 Wrexham
1 Rotherham United
1 Bury
Total Started/substitutions
618 Started
9 On the bench
2 Substitute
11 Substituted
Total Competition
434 League
68 League Cup
58 FA Cup
43 European Cup
7 Charity Shield
5 Screen Sport Super Cup
3 European Super Cup
2 World Club Championship

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 8 2 1 3 0 14
1977-1978 0 0 0 1 0 1
1978-1979 1 1 0 0 0 2
1979-1980 4 0 0 0 0 4
1980-1981 1 0 1 1 0 3
1981-1982 0 1 0 1 0 2
1982-1983 0 0 0 0 0 0
1983-1984 1 0 0 0 0 1
1984-1985 0 0 0 0 0 0
1985-1986 0 0 0 0 0 0
1986-1987 0 0 0 0 0 0
1987-1988 1 0 0 0 0 1
1988-1989 0 0 0 0 0 0
1989-1990 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
14 Started
0 Substitute
Total Competition
8 League
3 European Cup
2 FA Cup
1 League Cup
Total Goal minute period
3 1-15 minutes
1 16-30 minutes
3 31-45 minutes
4 61-75 minutes
2 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
14 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 24.09.1977 Derby Anfield League
50 06.03.1979 Coventry City Highfield Road League
100 19.02.1980 Nottingham Forest Anfield League
150 29.11.1980 Sunderland Roker Park League
200 02.01.1982 Swansea City Vetch Field FA Cup
250 28.12.1982 Sunderland Roker Park League
300 12.11.1983 Tottenham White Hart Lane League
350 01.09.1984 QPR Anfield League
400 27.04.1985 Ipswich Town Portman Road League
450 18.02.1986 York City Anfield FA Cup
500 24.01.1987 Newcastle United Anfield League
550 23.01.1988 Charlton Athletic Selhurst Park League
600 09.01.1990 Swansea City Anfield FA Cup

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 14 19.10.1977 Dyn. Dresden Anfield Europe

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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.

Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Partick Thistle 1973-1974 Scotland Division 1 1 0 2 0
Partick Thistle 1974-1975 Scotland Division 1 29 0 31 0
Partick Thistle 1975-1976 Scotland Division 1 21 2 32 2
Partick Thistle 1976-1977 Scotland Premier Division 35 4 47 8
Total 86 6 112 10