Peter Beardsley's Mersey swap was Graeme Souness' mistake

WHICH former player has turned out for seven current Premier League clubs?

It was a pub poser that caught out Peter Beardsley, a football trivia expert who usually has all the facts and figures at his fingertips when it comes to the game he played so masterfully – yet he was the answer!

Over his long and successful career, Beardsley’s clubs included present top flight dwellers Manchester United and Manchester City, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham as well as the likes of Carlisle United, Hartlepool United and Canadian outfit Vancouver Whitecaps.

But along with his two spells at hometown club Newcastle United, it was Beardsley’s six-year stint on Merseyside for which he will be best remembered.

As well as proving that nice guys can be winners and not all footballers are spoilt prima donnas, Beardsley’s unique playing talents secured him a quite unique place among the hearts of the city’s football public as he earned the respect and admiration of both Liverpool and Everton supporters.

Unlike many players who move directly from a major rival and neighbour, Beardsley did not incur the wrath of either set of fans and his quiet dignity off the pitch and razor sharp skills on it ensured there was no malice when he crossed Stanley Park to leave Anfield for Goodison in the summer of 1991.

Looking back on his transfer from Liverpool to Everton, Beardsley said: “To be fair, the people of Merseyside were very receptive and respectful.

“I must have received about 1,000 letters from both Reds and Blues when I moved and only one was bad.

“The single bad one told me how I’d made a bad move or something but a lot of the letters I received from Liverpool supporters told me how disappointed they were that I had left but that they wished me good luck in the future.

“For me, the great thing was that I had stayed on Merseyside,” he added.

Ironically, the prompting of Beardsley being shown the exit door at Anfield at a time many felt was premature, was the arrival at the club of Dean Saunders.

The striker, who came from relegated Derby County, cost Liverpool a then-record £2.9million fee but he arrived under the noses of Everton, who for a long time had seemed to be clear favourites for his signature.

However, after missing out on Saunders, thwarted Everton manager Howard Kendall turned his attentions closer to home to land Beardsley for £1million.

Beardsley said: “Howard was honest with me. He told me that he’d tried to sign Dean Saunders but when that didn’t happen he considered myself.

“Howard revealed that even in his wildest dreams he didn’t think that Liverpool would make me available to Everton but he tried his luck and the gamble paid off.

“He was shocked when Liverpool said yes to his offer and I was surprised too but that’s life. I didn’t really have a choice in so much that the new Liverpool manager at the time Graeme Souness wanted to get rid of me but I felt that I was young enough to keep playing regularly.”

Other players may have harboured a grudge towards the manager who discarded them but after playing on at the top for several more seasons, Beardsley was able to have the last laugh and when the two men’s paths crossed again, the Scot held up his hand up over the decision.

Beardsley said: “I worked with Graeme later on when he was manager at Newcastle and I was worked for their Academy.

“Credit to him, he admitted that he’d made a mistake in selling me when he did.”

Beardsley’s move to Everton allowed him to become only the second player after David Johnson to score the winning goal for both clubs in a Merseyside derby and it’s an accolade he remains proud of.

He said: “I never dreamed that could have happened when I first signed for Liverpool but it was an honour to play for both sides full stop but to score a winning goal in a derby for both Liverpool and Everton is very special.

“I might have enjoyed more success at Liverpool but I had such great fun at Everton and I love the Merseyside people.”

With Ian Rush having departed for Juventus, Liverpool were in need of new ideas up front when Beardsley arrived at Anfield in 1987 for an English record £1.9million.

However, it didn’t take him long to make his mark and a goal on his Merseyside derby debut that November sealed a 2-0 win after former Everton midfielder Steve McMahon had put Liverpool in front.

During his time at Anfield, Beardsley struck an impressive six goals against Everton over four seasons and in the four derbies in which he scored he was never on the losing side.

He said: “Most of them actually came at Goodison and once I hit two against Everton a week after I had scored a hat-trick against Manchester United.

“The famous 4-4 draw in the FA Cup when I scored obviously stands out, it was an absolute cracker. It seemed unbelievable that we only drew because at times that was as good as we’d ever played and we were ahead four times – but credit to Everton they kept coming back.”

After being such a big favourite for the red side of the city, Beardsley ensured that he became a big hit with the Evertonians when he struck the winner against his former club at Goodison in a 2-1 victory in December 1992.

He said: “Mark Wright had put Liverpool ahead just after the hour mark but we hit straight back through Mo Johnston.

“I got the winner with six minutes to go – it’s sad how I remember eh?

“Ironically, the pass came from another player who had joined us from Liverpool, Gary Ablett.

“It was rather pleasing for us both to be involved in the winning goal against Liverpool, not that we had anything against them.”

Beardsley, 46, now works full-time back on his native Tyneside in a public relations role that involves visiting hospitals and schools to meet school children and patients.

He admits that it’s a rewarding if sometimes difficult job and said: “We reward kids who do well and try to give them a boost but some of them don’t make it.”

Copyright - Liverpool Daily Post

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