Players - Peter Thompson

Peter Thompson
Birthdate: 27 November 1942
Birthplace: Carlisle, England
Date of death: 30 December 2018
Other clubs: Preston North End (1959-63), Bolton Wanderers (1973-78)
Bought from: Preston North End
Signed for LFC: £37,000, 14.08.1963
International debut: 17.05.1964 vs. Portugal
International caps: 16/0 - 25.04.1970
Liverpool debut: 24.08.1963
Last appearance: 22.01.1972
Debut goal: 16.09.1963
Last goal: 10.04.1971
Contract expiry: 05.01.1974
Win ratio: 51.92% W:216 D:105 L:95
Games/goals ratio: 7.7
Honours: League Championship 1963/64, 1965/66; FA Cup 1965
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 5 / 1
LFC league games/goals: 322 / 41
Total LFC games/goals: 416, / 54

Player Profile

Thompson was the great schoolboy star of his day and was pursued by almost every top club in the country when the time came to leave school. He became a regular first division player at 17 for Preston, making his debut against Arsenal on 30 August 1960 after Tom Finney's retirement. Bill Shankly had been impressed by the speed and trickery of the young winger during a marathon fifth round FA Cup tie between Liverpool and Preston in February 1962 which went to a second replay at Old Trafford. After two goalless draws the deadlock was finally broken by Thompson when the ballfell invitingly for him and he hit it straight back past 'keeper Bert Slater to claim a famous win. Thompson was a regular for three seasons for Preston and following relegation from their only top-flight season during his spell there the 20-year-old moved to Liverpool for £37,000. He almost messed up his transfer to the Reds with an inappropriate request as he told "I went to Anfield from Preston and there were thousands of people outside. I got my way through to the front door and Shankly is there. 'Why are all these here for?', I asked. 'You!', Shankly thundered. 'You? 'Me?', I gasped. He took me all around Melwood. He showed me Anfield. Took me to the office. The Chairman came in: 'Could you sign here?' 'Actually Mr. Shankly, I would like a signing-on fee.' 'You what? I am giving you the chance to play in the greatest city in the greatest team that is going to be in the world and you want illegal money. Get out!' 'Give me the pen,' I said. So I signed. Best thing I ever did."

The Preston lad was an amazing right-footed left winger, who tormented full-backs having spent countless hours on the training ground perfecting crossing with his left on the right side. Which way was Tommo going to go? His opponents didn't have a clue and most of the time his teammates didn't know what to expect either. Liverpool was envied by other teams for possessing such a powerful pairing on opposing flanks as Thompson and Callaghan. Thompson went straight into Liverpool's first team on his arrival and played in all 42 League games as the club won the title by four points. He won another championship medal in 1966 as well being part of the first Liverpool team to win the FA Cup the year before. Thompson came to Alf Ramsey's attention and would surely have won more than just 16 caps had the then England boss not decided to axe traditional wing play in favour of his own tactics. Who can argue with him after England's World Cup win in 1966? Thompson was desperately unlucky at international level, first in 1966 and then again in 1970 being named in the initial World Cup squad of 28 players before losing out both times as one of the "unlucky six". 

Thompson had avoided any major injuries and only missed twelve League games in seven and a half seasons when he suffered an injury in December 1970 and was out until March 1971. He recovered in time to come off the bench to replace Alun Evans in the 1971 FA Cup final against Arsenal and provided Steve Heighway with the opening goal in the second minute of extra-time. Unfortunately, was not enough to win the game. Thompson started the first seven League games of the 1971/72 season but an injury forced him out and once he was match-fit again he only appeared sporadically in the first team and spent the rest of the season languishing in the reserves. Thompson didn't make a single first-team appearance for Liverpool in his last two years at the club. He suffered from serious knee injuries and was ignored by his boss Shankly who famously had no time for injured players. "When my day was up Shankly was horrible. He treated me like a son for about nine years," Thompson revealed to "I had two operations on my left knee. When I had my second operation the specialist said: 'You'll never play again.' I got upset. I was only thirty. 'When you train hard, your knee will blow up.' So when I went back to Liverpool, the boss said: 'You are knackered. You are finished.' 'Who are you talking to, me?,' I responded. That's how he was. 'People are working on the docks to pay you money,' he told me. 'You are a cripple!'" Shankly wouldn't pay Thompson's contract up and in the end the Liverpool idol couldn't motivate himself to go to training. "Steve Heighway was doing fabulous. I am not going in having Shankly swear at me," Thompson explained. Jimmy Armfield at second division Bolton took a chance on Thompson and acquired him on loan in December 1973. He signed for Bolton a month later for £18,000 and is considered one of the biggest bargain buys in the club's history. Thompson retired in April 1978 after Bolton won the second division title, having played 132 matches in his indian summer.

Rarely has a footballer with as much natural ability worn the shirt of Liverpool and Peter Thompson is in a class only reserved for a select few. Shankly didn't have a problem with his former talisman after he left Liverpool, as he was no longer a burden on the club's payroll, and sang his praises in Thompson's testimonial brochure: "His work rate was outstanding, his fitness unequalled, his balance like a ballet dancer. I have no hesitation in placing Peter up among the all-time greats – alongside such players as Tom Finney, Stanley Matthews and George Best. They say he didn’t score enough goals, they said his final pass wasn’t telling enough. Well, if he had scored goals as well as everything else he did, he would have been in the same category as Jesus Christ!"
Appearances per season
Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 322 38 9 44 3 416
1963-1964 42 5 0 0 0 47
1964-1965 38 8 0 8 1 55
1965-1966 40 1 0 9 0 50
1966-1967 42 4 0 5 1 52
1967-1968 41 9 2 6 0 58
1968-1969 42 4 3 2 0 51
1969-1970 39 4 2 4 0 49
1970-1971 28 2 1 8 0 39
1971-1972 10 1 1 2 1 15
1972-1973 0 0 0 0 0 0
1973-1974 0 0 0 0 0 0
A more detailed look at the player's appearances
Total Opponent
19 Chelsea
19 WBA
18 Leicester City
18 Tottenham
17 Burnley
17 Arsenal
17 Leeds United
16 Manchester United
16 Nottingham Forest
16 Everton
15 West Ham United
15 Stoke City
14 Sheffield Wednesday
12 Wolves
12 Sunderland
12 Newcastle United
11 Southampton
10 Manchester City
10 Fulham
9 Blackpool
9 Aston Villa
9 Sheffield United
8 Ipswich Town
8 Coventry City
6 Blackburn Rovers
5 Derby
5 Bolton Wanderers
4 Birmingham City
4 Crystal Palace
4 Ferencvaros
3 Cologne
3 Petrolul Ploiesti
3 Watford
2 Malmo
2 Ajax
2 TSV Munich
2 Inter Milan
2 Juventus
2 Northampton Town
2 Standard Liege
2 Honved
2 Celtic
2 Bournemouth
2 Athletic Bilbao
2 Stockport County
2 Dundalk
2 Vitoria Setubal
2 Bayern Munich
2 Din. Bucharest
2 Port Vale
2 Anderlecht
2 Swansea City
2 Huddersfield Town
2 Walsall
1 KR Reykjavík
1 Wrexham
1 Borussia Dortmund
1 Servette
1 Oxford United
1 Hibernian
1 Mansfield Town
1 Doncaster Rovers
Total Started/substitutions
405 Started
2 On the bench
11 Substitute
9 Substituted
Total Competition
322 League
38 FA Cup
20 European Fairs Cup
13 European Cup
11 European Cup Winners Cup
9 League Cup
3 Charity Shield
Goals per season
Season League FA LC Europe Other Total
Totals 41 5 2 6 0 54
1963-1964 6 2 0 0 0 8
1964-1965 5 1 0 0 0 6
1965-1966 5 0 0 1 0 6
1966-1967 10 0 0 1 0 11
1967-1968 2 1 1 1 0 5
1968-1969 8 0 1 0 0 9
1969-1970 3 1 0 3 0 7
1970-1971 2 0 0 0 0 2
1971-1972 0 0 0 0 0 0
1972-1973 0 0 0 0 0 0
1973-1974 0 0 0 0 0 0
A more detailed look at the player's goalscoring
Milestone Appearances
# Date Against Stadium Competition
1 24.08.1963 Blackburn Rovers Ewood Park League
50 22.08.1964 Arsenal Anfield League
100 01.05.1965 Leeds United Wembley FA Cup
150 30.04.1966 Chelsea Anfield League
200 22.04.1967 WBA Anfield League
250 23.03.1968 Sheffield Wednesday Hillsborough League
300 22.02.1969 West Ham United Upton Park League
350 11.02.1970 Leicester City Filbert Street FA Cup
400 01.05.1971 Southampton Anfield League
Milestone Goals
# Minute Date Against Stadium Competition
1 33 16.09.1963 Wolves Anfield League
50 52 26.12.1969 Burnley Turf Moor League
Related Articles
View from the people - Jimmy McGovern

Jimmy McGovern wrote the screenplay for "Hillsborough", his wonderfully evocative screenplay about the eponymous 1989 tragedy.

A new role for Peter Thompson

Published by the Liverpool Echo on 6 August 1968

Peter Thompson - Shankly's wing wizard

When asked if I was ready to take a 550-mile round trip to spend a couple of hours with Peter Thompson in Kent, I said instantly 'Yes, I am going all-in.'

Deepdale Hero

Interview with Preston's and Liverpool's flying winger published 31 March 2009 on Preston North End's official website.

Sounded like a home game

Liverpool Echo match report on Blackburn - Liverpool on 24 August 1963.

Memo to Boy fans: Keep off the pitch says Ron Yeats

Ron Yeats' column in the Liverpool Echo on 31 August 1963.

Thompson and Shankly

The relationship between Bill Shankly and the two-footed wizard winger, Peter Thompson, was quite complicated.

Liverpool secure Shankly's first title!

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

The wonder left wingers of Liverpool

John Martin talks about his favourite players on the left hand side of Liverpool throughout his years supporting the Reds.

The magnificent 1961/62 promotion season

John Martin remembers the fateful 1961/62 Liverpool season when the Reds got back into the top division.

Thompson's genius ruins City's night

The Coventry Evening Telegraph report on Liverpool - Coventry City on 12.01.1970.

Paisley's opinion on Peter Thompson

How do you take over from a living legend?, is the first question Bob Paisley poses in his profile of the Liverpool great, Peter Thompson.

Peter Thompson almost messed up his transfer to Liverpool

Peter Thompson almost messed up his transfer to Liverpool.

European debut in Iceland

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

Related Quotes

"Peter Thompson, the former Liverpool and England winger was the smartest dressed player of all time. He used to turn up for training at Bolton looking immaculate."

Peter Reid in 1985

"Those who have seen the boy pressed me to watch him and I was tremendously impressed with both his skill and maturity. He had so much of Finney about him and seems certain to go straight to the top."

Walter Winterbottom England manager on young star Peter Thompson at Preston before he joined Liverpool

"Without a doubt, Peter Thompson. He was awesome and the things he could do, half the time he didn’t know himself what he was doing. He had such pace and ability on the wing."

Willie Stevenson on the best player he ever played with, Peter Thompson.

"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.

"He showed so much quality in training and in playing. I’ve rarely seen a youngster who could read a game so well. I’m sure he’ll be a great midfield player."

Former great Bertie Auld could see the potiental of young Peter Thompson at Preston

"My Dad taught me how to spit surreptitiously by flicking the back of my tongue to cause an almost invisible spray. "There's only me, you and Peter Thompson who know how to do this," he said. Peter Thompson knew how to do things nobody else could do, so it had the ring of truth to it. What a winger! Even Dixie Dean drooled when watching him, the Everton hero claiming that he would have surpassed his record of 60 league goals in a season if he'd have played between Thompson and Ian Callaghan."

Tony Evans from Times online captures the essence of Peter Thompson in a funny way

Other Clubs
Club Season Club rank League apps League goals Total apps Total goals
Preston North End 1960-1961 England First Division 38 7 46 12
Preston North End 1961-1962 England Second Division 42 9 53 15
Preston North End 1962-1963 England Second Division 42 4 47 4
Bolton Wanderers 1973-1974 England Second Division 24 0 27 0
Bolton Wanderers 1974-1975 England Second Division 41 1 45 1
Bolton Wanderers 1975-1976 England Second Division 38 1 44 1
Bolton Wanderers 1976-1977 England Second Division 11 0 12 0
Bolton Wanderers 1977-1978 England Second Division 3 0 4 0
Total 239 22 278 33