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Sports Then and Now

Dalglish Handed Task Of Bringing European Glory Back To Liverpool

Posted on August 25, 2011 by Rod Crowley

As football fans all over Europe ready themselves for the Champions League Group Stage draw this week, Liverpool fans will be looking the other way whilst remembering those halcyon days of the late 70s, early 80s when it was their club who were the best in Europe.

Liverpool won the first of their five European Cups back in 1977 with a team that had been put together by their legendary manager, Bill Shankly. It was just sad that he had retired by the time the team won the Trophy and the plaudits were taken by his replacement Bob Paisley.

The 1977 team still had several of the greats Shankly brought to Anfield, players such as Tommy Smith, an uncompromising defender and dedicated Liverpool player. Ian Callaghan one of the most reliable of all wing players as well as captain Emlyn Hughes, known as “Crazy Horse” to his team mates. The star of the show however was Kevin Keegan who had announced some months previously that he would be leaving the club at the end of that season to play for Hamburg in Germany.

The Reds won the final against Borussia Monchengladbach by 3-1 with the goals coming from Terry McDermott, Smith and a penalty by Phil Neal. The win gave them the distinction of becoming only the third British Club to win Europe’s most coveted Soccer trophy, following in the footsteps of Celtic, winners 10 years previously in 1967 and Manchester United who won in 1968.

Liverpool however were to become the first British Club to win the trophy twice, when, under Paisley’s guidance they won again 12 months later, this time over Belgian champions Bruges. The match was played at Wembley and the score line was not a particularly fair reflection as Liverpool were far and away the better team. However, the winning goal was scored by Kenny Dalglish, the man Paisley had bought from Celtic to replace Keegan at the club.

Paisley had many doubters at the club, none more so than Shankly himself who had wanted Jack Charlton to take up the reins with Paisley remaining as his assistant like he had been to Shankly. To Paisley’s  great credit however, he ignored the critics and spent the next 12 months ringing the changes at Anfield, bringing in several players  that would all in their own right make a profound mark at the club.

In addition to Dalglish, in came Graeme Souness from Middlesbrough and Alan Hansen from Partick Thistle and in all, the team he put out to face Bruges in 1978 had six changes from the one who had won 12 months earlier.

Paisley, Dalglish, Souness and Hansen were all part of the team that went on to win the trophy twice more in 1981 and 1984 and who also made the final in 1985. All four are considered Liverpool legends and if Soccer had a Hall of Fame, these would have been inductees long ago but it is Dalglish in particular who will be following the Champions League with great attention this season. It is he who is now the manager of the club and since Boston Red Sox owners, New England Sporting Ventures, took charge, it is Dalglish has been charged with getting the teams back into the Champions League, a trophy they won for the fifth and last time in 2005. So far, Dalglish with the support of the club’s new owners has assembled a team clearly capable of challenging at the top of the EPL once again and provided they finish in the top four in this season’s final standings, they will once again return to European competition this time next year.

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