LFC's greatest ever servant

Liverpool Football Club will today honour its greatest ever servant with a special one-hour television show dedicated to Ian Callaghan, exactly 50 years to the day the former Reds star made his LFC debut.

It was at Anfield against Bristol Rovers on April 16 1960 that Ian Callaghan first announced himself to just over 27,000 fans packed inside the ground and today, exactly half a century on, we're delighted to present a tribute to a man who played an incredible 857 games for Liverpool.

George Best on Cally: I was glad to get past him

"I played against Cally many times and watched him on television before we found ourselves team-mates and room-mates at Fort Lauderdale in the United States. What struck me about him was the fact that he ran round like a kid, even though he'd been playing for years and years. He was able to do that because of his absolute, 100% dedication to football.

"He never stopped running and chasing, and in United v Liverpool games he was someone I was always glad to get past. If I did that, I'd no worries. I'd have liked to have been in Ian's situation of not having all the pressures outside the game, because the lack of them helps a player enormously. I never believed in comparing one player with another. It's enough to say that Ian Callaghan was a great one."

10 Things you didn't know about Cally
1. Cally had Nobby Stiles teeth in his pocket on the day of the World Cup Final in 1966.
2. Liverpool never lost a league game with in which Callaghan scored.
3. Callaghan's only ever hat-trick for the Reds came on a Wednesday afternoon against Hull City.
4. Liverpool's record appearance holder wore six different numbered shirts during his Anfield career: 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14.
5. In 1974 he became the first Liverpool player to be awarded the Football Writer's Player of the Year.
6. He is the only Liverpool player to appear for the Reds in the former Second Division and in a European Cup final.
7. Callaghan also holds the record for the longest gap between receiving England Caps, which was 11 years and 79 days. He earned his first on 26th June 1966 and his second on 17th September 1977.
8. He captained Liverpool on one occasion, against Norwich City on 2nd February 1974.
9. Cally holds the record for the player with the most appearances in the FA Cup.
10. He was the first Liverpool substitute to score in a European game, against Dundalk in the Fairs Cup on 30th September 1969.
Bill Shankly on Cally: He listened to the gospel

"A manager's dream... that's Ian Callaghan. He's a model man and model player. Ian's switch to midfield came late in his career and robbed him of many international appearances. If it had happened several years earlier he'd have won 20 or 30 caps. I used to have to tell him to simmer down in training because he drove himself.

"You go through the motions, son," I'd say to him on the training ground. But to the others who were taking part in the same function, I'd say: "You'd better get it right or we're going to be here all day."

"In my playing days, when we played for a pittance, I started looking forward to the next game the moment the final whistle blew. Ian Callaghan's attitude is the same.How was he capable of what he achieved over such a long period? Because he listened to the gospel... the gospel of dedication and enthusiasm. He's a model man and model player, and will go down as one of the game's greats." 

Bobby Charlton on Cally: His love of football kept him going

"I have a healthy respect for all good professionals and I don't think there is anyone in the game who could possibly have faulted Ian Callaghan as a player. He had skill, positional sense, effort and showed great loyalty to Liverpool. He had a whole-hearted enthusiasm for the game and many players would be delighted to have his legs. It was a matter of some amazement to many people that he kept going as he did right through his career. It's the love of football that was the main reason he carried on playing for so long.

"His switch to midfield was a big success but, then, he was one of those players you could play anywhere. Put him at full back and he'd have done a good job. He was such a shrewd tactician. Because of the Kop and Liverpool's effort as a team, people tended to overlook individual skills. Ian was a jack-of-all-trades... and a master of them all. He will be remembered not just as a great club man but as a truly great player, and I was delighted that he won an England recall at the age of 35 and after 11 years out of international football."

Brian Clough on Cally: Not for him a life of booze and fags

"Most people I have come across in football have given Ian Callaghan the "model professional" label. But that's an insult to him. It's been used TOO often to describe TOO many people for it to apply in Ian's case. He's arguably the most genuine player the game has produced. So he deserves a special identity. I didn't have much contact with Ian over the years... and that's a pity. I enjoy being associated with honest, reliable people, and they don't come any more faithful than him. A player has to be really outstanding to be recalled by his country at the age of 35, but it was no surprise to me that it happened to Ian. No matter how much talent you have, you can never hope to be at the top as a footballer when you reach your mid-30s unless you set yourself certain standards.

"Ian Callaghan not only set himself standards - he invented them. Not for him a life of booze and fags or any of the other vices that have ruined many a career. He got the rewards for looking after himself, working conscientiously and behaving in a proper manner. Over the years there have been thousands of professionals who have abused themselves. They could have benefited from a fraction of the qualities Ian had to offer."

Kevin Keegan on Cally: The only person without a single enemy

When I joined Liverpool from Scunthorpe in 1971 I was immediately struck by how welcoming and friendly Ian Callaghan was towards me. I thought: "Give it time and I'll get to know him as he really is." The fact is that the man I met as a newcomer IS the real Ian Callaghan. He must be the only person in the game without a single enemy. But he's much, much more than a very nice bloke. He was a superbly consistent player. Sure, he'd have a bad game occasionally... like once every other season!

"Considering that he played so well for Liverpool for so long and with such incredible consistency, I was staggered that it wasn't until late in his career that he began to receive the acclaim he deserved. His enthusiasm for the game and his hard work were fantastic. He played football year after year with the same attitude as a raw, starry-eyed youngster."

Top 10 LFC Players by Appearances
1. Ian Callaghan: 857
2. Ray Clemence: 665
3. Emlyn Hughes: 665
4. Ian Rush: 660
5. Phil Neal: 650
6. Tommy Smith: 638
7. Bruce Grobbelaar: 628
8. Jamie Carragher: 624
9. Alan Hansen: 620
10. Chris Lawler: 549
All stats correct as of 16 April 2010

Tommy Smith on Cally: It baffled me why he was ignored by England

"If a mother wanted her son to be a footballer, she'd want him to be like Cally. Sometimes you reflect on his life and career and think he's too good to be true - yet he is true. I roomed with him for Liverpool and I know what a generous and modest man he is. As a player I was baffled why he was ignored by England from 1966 to 1977. Why he didn't receive more international recognition I'll never know. He never sang his own praises yet he is to Liverpool what Bobby Charlton is to Manchester United and Tom Finney to Preston.

"Ian was virtually beyond improvement as a player. He may not have been a great header of the ball, but then heading was not something he was called on to do very often.

His desire for hard work, this wanting to do everything himself, put him in a class of his own. And I'm proud to say I helped because every time we ran onto the pitch for a match I'd be right behind him giving his shoulders a rub!"

Bob Paisley on Cally: A true role model

"If every player in the game was like Ian Callaghan there would be no managers left, simply because they wouldn't be needed. To call him a great professional doesn't do him justice. In addition to his outstanding playing qualities, he never lost his temper, never got ruffled, never shouted the odds and never got carried away with anything. And if you add up all that you are left with a true role model, an example of what all youngsters should aspire to.

"I knew Ian from the time he joined Liverpool as an amateur in the 1950s, when he trained twice a week at Melwood, and his character and personality never changed.

He was the same then as he was on that wonderful night in Rome more than 20 years later when he was in the team that won the club's first European Cup. As a man and a player they come no greater than Ian Callaghan."

Interviews taken from the new book, 'Cally on the Ball' with John Keith.

Copyright -

Article links



We've got all the results from official games, appearance stats, goal stats and basically every conceivable statistic from 1892 to the present, every single line-up and substitutions!