John William Aldridge was one of four key signings that Kenny Dalglish made for 1987-88. Aldo was a clone of the Juventus bound Ian Rush and slotted in immediately with his fellow new boys; Barnes, Beardsley and Houghton.
The newly bolstered Liverpool team steamrolled to the title, narrowly missing out on the double after Wimbledon caused the greatest FA Cup shock of all time. Aldridge had scored the semi final winner against Luton and etched his name into FA Cup folklore after Dave 'Lurch' Beasant guessed right as Aldo became the first player to miss a spot kick at Wembley.
Like Ian Wright, Aldo was a late developer, leaving non league South Liverpool for Notts County in 1979. Aldo earned his wings at Somerton Park whilst partnering the legendary Tommy Tynan, helping Notts County reach the Quarter Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup.
In 1984 Aldridge joined Oxford United to form another prolific partnership with Billy Hamilton. His record breaking goal feats were enough for Kenny Dalglish to lure him back home to Anfield. Aldo was under no illusions. He and Peter Beardsley were bought in to replace the chasm left by Dalglish and Ian Rush.
The mark was made in February 1987 when Aldo scored his first goal in a Liverpool shirt - the winner in a 1-0 win over Southampton at Anfield.
Liverpool's pass and move play was the tonic and with such supply from the flanks as well as from central midfield, Aldridge was unstoppable. His partnership with Beardsley and link up with Barnes and Houghton became one of the most talked about in the European leagues.
In 1988 Aldridge began to brush away the memories of Rush, hitting nine in the first nine games. In a fruitful season, Aldridge scored 26 and Dalglish's men strolled to the title by nine clear points.
Aldo made up for his Wembley penalty horror by scoring the FA Cup final opener against Everton a year later with his very first touch. Ian Rush had returned from Juve in a subsidised deal and his replacement was now under pressure.
Ironically Rush replaced Aldridge in that 1989 FA Cup final and scored the two goals that countered Stuart McCall's virtuoso display, taking the cup back to Anfield.
It had been a traumatic season. Aldridge had been on the pitch at Hillsbrough, where 96 Liverpool fans so tragically lost their lives. As a native Liverpudlian, Aldridge felt it more than most. He joined the grieving of his City folk, attending countless services for the dead whilst even considering quitting the game for good.
A few days later, Aldridge was at Anfield when Liverpool lost the championship with the last kick of the game. The cameras panned immediately to Aldridge sinking inconsolably to the turf straight after Michael Thomas' historic and heartbreaking winner.
After 63 goals in 104 games, Aldo was sold to Real Sociedad for £1 million, becoming the clubs first non Basque footballer. His last game was as a sub in the 9-0 rout of Crystal Palace, coming on to score a penalty in front of the Kop.
Aldo continued to hit the net prolifically at Real and Tranmere Rovers before hanging up his boots to take over the managerial reigns at Prenton Park.
In 889 career appearances, he scored a remarkable 476 goals, a record goals tally yet unmatched by any goalscorer in post-war English football.
Aldo was a supreme predator. He was no nonsense and had an invaluable knack of regularly hitting the back of the net with the precision of a crack rifleman.
One of the iconic moments of Aldo’s career was when he lost his rag in Orlando, Florida, whilst waiting to come on as a substitute for Tommy Coyne for the Republic of Ireland against Mexico at USA 94. Aldo saw Red and had to be restrained by Maurice Setters.
The video featuring Aldo expletives has become a YouTube hit. Despite the outburst Aldo scored the consolation in a 2-1 defeat. It was enough to secure Jack Charlton's teams progress into the next round.
A passionate man, always displayed his heart on his sleeve and wore the No.8 shirt to emulate World Cup winner Roger Hunt - Aldo's all time hero.
Aldo remains a true Red favourite. Who knows what he may have achieved had Ian Rush not returned to become Liverpool's undisputed goal king?
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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