Player profile

Ian Callaghan

Ian Callaghan

Birthdate: 10 April 1942
Birthplace: Toxteth, Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Fort Lauderdale Strikers (loan 1978), Swansea City (1978-81), Canberra City (loan 1979), Cork United (1981), Crewe Alexandra (1981-82)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1957 - Professional 28.03.1960
International debut: 26.06.1966 vs. Finland
International caps: 4/0 - 12.10.1977
Liverpool debut: 16.04.1960
Last appearance: 29.03.1978
Debut goal: 04.11.1961
Last goal: 15.03.1978
Contract expiry: 14.09.1978
Win ratio: 52.98% W:454 D:217 L:186
Honours: League Championship 1963/64, 1965/66, 1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77; Second Division 1961/62; FA Cup 1965, 1974; European Cup 1977, 1978; UEFA Cup 1973, 1976; FWA Footballer of the Year 1974
LFC league games/goals: 640 / 49
Total LFC games/goals: 857 / 68

Player profile

When Billy Liddell was retiring he was asked if Liverpool had in their ranks a worthy successor. Liddell didn’t harbour any doubts: “There is a 17-year-old called Ian Callaghan who looks like taking over from me. I played with him twice, watched his progress and I believe he’ll be a credit to his club, the game and his country,” he stated at the time. Callaghan played his first game only six days after his eighteenth birthday replacing his boyhood hero Liddell.  Liverpool beat Bristol Rovers 4-0 but Callaghan’s performance captured the imagination. When the final whistle went 27,000 spectators gave him a standing ovation along with both set of players as well as the referee! The headline in the Daily Post read: “A Callaghan debut to remember.” In the Daily Express Graham Fisher wrote: “For Liverpool right winger Ian Callaghan, veteran of four Central League games, he just ended the most accomplished League debut I’ve had the pleasure to witness.”

Shankly did not though want to rely on such a young man so soon and bought Kevin Lewis before the start of the 1960/61 season. Lewis scored 22 goals in 36 games and Callaghan had to bide his time. Liverpool got promoted in 1961/62 and from November that season he was finally a regular and stayed that way for the next 15 years! During the first part of his career Callaghan played on the right wing with Peter Thompson on the left. They were a dangerous duo and created a number of goals for Roger Hunt and Ian St John. Callaghan only stood 5 ft. 7 in. (170 cm.), but he was blessed with great speed. “I used to take the full-back on and get to the byline. That was my strength.” When Dixie Dean was asked if he could have repeated his record of scoring 60 League goals in one season in modern football he answered: “If I could play between Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson I’d still get my 60 goals a season.” 

No one can forget when Callaghan created St John’s winning goal in the FA Cup final 1965. The game stood at 1-1 in extra-time after goals from Roger Hunt and Billy Bremner. Callaghan crossed from the right and St John headed into the net. Liverpool’s first FA Cup trophy win is Callaghan’s favourite memory: “First has to be Wembley ‘65 and Liverpool lifting the FA Cup for the first time. It was also my first appearance at the stadium and I had a hand, or rather a foot, in the winning goal.” This historic FA Cup win came between two Championships in 1964 and 1966. This was the golden age of Bill Shankly’s 60’s side. “Ian Callaghan is everything good that a man can be. No praise is too high for him,” Shankly said. “He is a model professional, and a model human being. If there were 11 Callaghans at Anfield there would never be any need to put up a team sheet. You could stake your life on Ian. Words cannot do justice to the amount he has contributed to the game. Ian Callaghan will go down as one of the game’s truly great players.” 

In the 1970/71 season Callaghan underwent a knee operation and Brian Hall took his place on the right wing. When Callaghan returned Shankly moved him to the centre of midfield prolonging his Liverpool career by seven years. Callaghan’s great reading of the game and incredible workrate made him ideal for this position. Callaghan set a new record of appearances for Liverpool on 15 August 1972 breaking Billy Liddell’s long standing club-record of 534. Three championship medals; in 1973, 1976 and 1977, followed. Callaghan played in four FA Cup finals, winning in 1965 and 1974, but finished on the losing side in 1971 and 1977. He won the UEFA Cup twice; in 1973 and 1976. In 1977 Liverpool won the European Cup for the first time after beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in Rome and celebrated their second European win in 1978. Callaghan had lost his place to Graeme Souness but he was on the bench in the Wembley final. That was to be the last time his name appeared on Liverpool’s team sheet. He had gone through the whole of his Liverpool career without being sent off or even booked when the referee took his name down in Callaghan’s penultimate game for Liverpool in March 1978. In September 1978, after 19 seasons with Liverpool, Callaghan called it a day at the club having enjoyed the summer in the States on loan at Fort Lauderdale. On his return Callaghan signed for John Toshack’s Swansea where he played with Tommy Smith. In 1981 Callaghan was going to retire following a short spell in Ireland but was persuaded by his old mate, Alan A’ Court, who was assistant manager at Crewe, to share his experience in the game. Callaghan stayed five months there before he did his Achilles tendon and retired two months short of his fortieth birthday.

Ian Callaghan boasts without a doubt one of the most remarkable careers of any player in Europe past or present. He was the epitome of the professional footballer and is a gentleman off the field. He is the club’s record appearance holder with 857 games and was the first Liverpool player to be voted Footballer of the Year, in 1974. Strangely enough he only played four times for his country. He was part of the World Cup-winning team in 1966, playing one game, but incredibly 11 years passed from his second to his third cap. On 10 June 2009 Ian Callaghan was finally presented with a World Cup winners’ medal at a special ceremony in London nearly 43 years after the event. When Liverpool won the European Cup for the first time in 1977 Callaghan was the only player who had also played Liverpool’s first European game in 1964. Charles Lambert, an Echo reporter, gave Callaghan this praise. “As great a Liverpool institution as the Mersey Ferries.” All things considered it is highly unlikely that Ian Callaghan’s record of games played for Liverpool will ever be broken.

Appearances per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 640 79 42 89 7 857
1959-1960 4 0 0 0 0 4
1960-1961 3 0 2 0 0 5
1961-1962 23 5 0 0 0 28
1962-1963 37 6 0 0 0 43
1963-1964 42 5 0 0 0 47
1964-1965 37 8 0 9 1 55
1965-1966 42 1 0 9 1 53
1966-1967 40 4 0 5 1 50
1967-1968 41 9 2 6 0 58
1968-1969 42 4 3 2 0 51
1969-1970 41 6 2 4 0 53
1970-1971 23 5 1 5 0 34
1971-1972 41 3 3 4 1 52
1972-1973 42 4 8 12 0 66
1973-1974 42 9 6 4 0 61
1974-1975 41 2 3 4 1 51
1975-1976 40 2 3 12 0 57
1976-1977 33 5 2 7 1 48
1977-1978 26 1 7 6 1 41
1978-1979 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

Total Opponent
36 Leicester City
34 Tottenham
33 WBA
33 Arsenal
33 West Ham United
32 Leeds United
31 Everton
30 Manchester United
29 Burnley
28 Chelsea
28 Stoke City
27 Newcastle United
25 Manchester City
24 Ipswich Town
23 Coventry City
23 Wolves
22 Nottingham Forest
22 Sheffield United
20 Derby
19 Southampton
18 Birmingham City
16 Sheffield Wednesday
16 Sunderland
15 Aston Villa
12 QPR
11 Blackpool
11 Fulham
10 Crystal Palace
10 Middlesbrough
9 Norwich City
7 Blackburn Rovers
7 Bolton Wanderers
7 Carlisle United
6 Dyn. Dresden
6 Luton Town
6 Bristol City
5 Huddersfield Town
5 Preston North End
5 Ferencvaros
4 Watford
4 Swansea City
4 Gladbach
3 Doncaster Rovers
3 Hull City
3 Leyton Orient
3 Walsall
3 Rotherham United
3 Petrolul Ploiesti
3 Hibernian
3 Bayern Munich
3 Wrexham
3 Cologne
2 Inter Milan
2 Juventus
2 Northampton Town
2 Standard Liege
2 Honved
2 Celtic
2 Port Vale
2 Anderlecht
2 KR Reykjavík
2 Stockport County
2 Servette
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Bournemouth
2 Malmo
2 Ajax
2 TSV Munich
2 Oldham Athletic
2 Bristol Rovers
2 Scunthorpe United
2 Brighton & Hove Albion
2 Benfica
2 Dundalk
2 Vitoria Setubal
2 Jeunesse d'Esch
2 Real Sociedad
2 Bruges
2 Frankfurt
2 AEK Athens
2 Dynamo Berlin
2 Red Star Belgrade
2 Strømsgodset
2 Slask Wroclaw
2 Barcelona
2 Crusaders
2 Trabzonspor
2 Saint-Étienne
1 York City
1 Hamburg SV
1 Aldershot
1 Borussia Dortmund
1 Plymouth Argyle
1 Charlton Athletic
1 Bury
1 Mansfield Town
1 Oxford United
Total Started/substitutions
850 Started
9 On the bench
7 Substitute
7 Substituted
Total Competition
640 League
79 FA Cup
42 League Cup
30 European Cup
24 UEFA Cup
17 European Cup Winners Cup
17 European Fairs Cup
7 Charity Shield
1 European Super Cup

Goals per season

Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 49 2 7 10 0 68
1959-1960 0 0 0 0 0 0
1960-1961 0 0 0 0 0 0
1961-1962 1 0 0 0 0 1
1962-1963 2 0 0 0 0 2
1963-1964 8 0 0 0 0 8
1964-1965 6 1 0 1 0 8
1965-1966 5 0 0 0 0 5
1966-1967 3 0 0 1 0 4
1967-1968 3 0 1 3 0 7
1968-1969 8 1 1 0 0 10
1969-1970 3 0 0 2 0 5
1970-1971 0 0 0 0 0 0
1971-1972 2 0 0 0 0 2
1972-1973 3 0 1 0 0 4
1973-1974 0 0 3 0 0 3
1974-1975 1 0 0 1 0 2
1975-1976 3 0 0 1 0 4
1976-1977 1 0 1 0 0 2
1977-1978 0 0 0 1 0 1
1978-1979 0 0 0 0 0 0

A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring

Total Started/substitutions
67 Started
1 Substitute
Total Competition
49 League
7 League Cup
5 European Fairs Cup
3 European Cup
2 FA Cup
1 European Cup Winners Cup
1 UEFA Cup
Total Goal minute period
9 1-15 minutes
8 16-30 minutes
7 31-45 minutes
12 46-60 minutes
14 61-75 minutes
18 76-90 minutes
Total Open play/Penalty
68 Open play

Milestone Appearances

# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 16.04.1960 Bristol Rovers Anfield League
50 10.11.1962 Manchester United Old Trafford League
100 07.12.1963 Arsenal Highbury League
150 28.11.1964 Tottenham Anfield League
200 06.11.1965 Sheffield Wednesday Hillsborough League
250 15.10.1966 Nottingham Forest City Ground League
300 07.10.1967 Leicester City Filbert Street League
350 31.08.1968 Leeds United Elland Road League
400 27.08.1969 Crystal Palace Selhurst Park League
450 22.08.1970 Huddersfield Town Anfield League
500 23.10.1971 Huddersfield Town Anfield League
550 07.10.1972 Everton Anfield League
600 25.08.1973 Stoke City Anfield League
650 03.04.1974 Leicester City Villa Park FA Cup
700 22.02.1975 Everton Anfield League
750 21.02.1976 Newcastle United Anfield League
800 11.01.1977 Crystal Palace Selhurst Park FA Cup
850 21.01.1978 Birmingham City Anfield League

Milestone Goals

# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 56 04.11.1961 Preston North End Deepdale League
50 32 24.03.1970 Ipswich Town Anfield League

Related Articles

The Untold Story of Billy Howard - Part 2

Last week we introduced you to Billy Howard, an ardent Kopite who also had the pleasure and privilege to be on Liverpool Football Club's books. We hope you will enjoy reading this article as much as we enjoyed interviewing this gentleman.More

Celebrating the 60's legends!

A commemorative dinner was held recently at Anfield to celebrate Liverpool's 50 years in Europe and winning the FA Cup in 1965. The nucleus of the 1964-65 team was present and we have the photos to prove it!More

Ian Callaghan – still going strong

Published in the Sunday Express on 23 December 1979.More

LFC's greatest ever servant

Liverpool Football Club honoured Ian Callaghan with a special one-hour television show, exactly 50 years to the day the former Reds star made his LFC debut. More

Talklfc's Kevin captures Callaghan's essence

Talklfc's Kevin captures Callaghan's essence in response to LFChistory's exclusive interview with Cally.More

Ian Callaghan - The Marathon man

Ian Callaghan is literally synonymous with Liverpool's history. interviewed this fantastic legend.More

Gerry Byrne - The toughest of them all!

We published this interview initially on 29 October 2008 on Gerry passed away today at 77 years of age and this warm man who was tough as nails on the pitch will be sorely missed.More

Cally's Heroes

Ian Callaghan talks to BBC Radio Merseyside's John Keith about his hero, the Flying Scotsman Billy Liddell.More

Liverpool secure Shankly's first title!

A press article from Liverpool Echo and Daily Express on the 18th of April 1964.More

Ian, at 17, has a dream of a debut

The Sunday Express report on Liverpool - Bristol Rovers on 16.04.1960.More

Liverpool new boys star turns

News Chronicle and Daily Dispatch report on Liverpool - Rotherham United on 18.04.1960.More

The first European night at Anfield

Forty years ago Liverpool played their first European game at Anfield Road.More

European debut in Iceland

Forty years ago today Liverpool played their first European game in Iceland of all places.More

A debut to remember

Ian Callaghan's debut for Liverpool was memorable for many reasons.More

Related Quotes

"Ian Callaghan is everything good that a man can be. No praise is too high for him. Words cannot do justice to the amount he has contributed to the game. Ian Callaghan will go down as one of the game's truly great players."


"I was an outside right until 1970 when I got my cartilage injury. I lost my place to John McLaughlin and then Brian Hall. When I got back I was put in central midfield and I probably enjoyed playing there more than when I was on the wing. I probably got more recognition playing in that role."

Callaghan suffered his first major long term injury in 1970

"Everton were the glamour club back then, they had a much better stadium and I had a chance to go to them, but I was a Liverpool supporter and signing for them appealed to me more. The fact that two of my heroes, Alan A'Court and the great Billy Liddell were here made it easy for me to sign."

Ian Callaghan wanted to be a Red

"When I tell people that I played in one of the matches, they say things like, 'You played for England in '66?' People know all about what I did at club level with Liverpool - the League titles and the Cup wins - but even committed football followers, real fans, haven't a clue that I helped England win the World Cup, and yet it was one of the great highlights of my career."

Ian Callaghan played his part in England's victory in '66

"I don't know how I would have managed without him. It was a big step up playing in the first team, and I don't know how I would have coped without someone keeping an eye on me and helping me out of difficult situations. I soon learned that at Liverpool, we were essentially part of a team and depended on each other."

Ian Callaghan on Ronnie Moran when Cally was starting out

"If I could play between Ian Callaghan and Peter Thompson I’d still get my 60 goals a season."

Goalscoring legend Dixie Dean asked if he could have set his scoring record in modern football.

"My all-time favourite memory so far was when we had a new door fitted in the office. Ian Callaghan came in quite a lot and one day he noticed this door. I remember Val Rice - she's retired now - saying to him: "Yes Ian, we decided that as we've got the Paisley Gates and the Shankly statue, it was about time we unveiled something like the Callaghan door." We then made a little sign and put a ribbon across it. He even cut it himself to officially declare it open! Moments like that are priceless and are just one of the great things about working for this club."

From's interview with Membership Manager Suzanne Cohen in January 2009

“People even today love to talk about hard men and the toughest opponent they have played against. But what Gerry did in 1965 was incredible. He broke his collar bone early in the match and then played right through the game, through extra time and even crossed for Roger to score the first goal. To play almost two hours with a broken collar bone was unbelievable.

I was listening to a tape recently about the 1965 Cup final and on it Bill Shankly said Gerry Byrne should have got all 11 medals for what he did in that cup final. Bill was saying Gerry was one of the best players he had. And he was. He was a tremendous player, one of the best two-footed players around at that time without a doubt. He could play left-back and right-back without any problem.

As a person, he was a gentle, quiet guy. He was my first room-mate at Liverpool and I stayed fairly close to him ever since and last saw him only a couple of months ago. He was the most gentle man off the field, but when he was on it he became a real hard guy. Gerry was a Liverpool lad and was at the club a long time. He was there in the 1950s when we weren't doing so well, and he became a big part of the success we had in the 1960s under Bill Shankly. Gerry was not only a fantastic player, but also a fantastic man.”

Ian Callaghan remembers Gerry Byrne who passed away on 28 November 2015.


Other Clubs

Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1978-1979 USA 20 0 20 0
Swansea City 1978-1979 England Third Division 40 0 44 0
Canberra City 1979-1980 Australia 9 0 9 0
Swansea City 1979-1980 England Second Division 36 1 40 1
Cork United 1980-1981 League of Ireland 3 0 3 0
Crewe 1981-1982 England Fourth Division 15 0 17 0
Total 123 1 133 1