Throughout its 118-year history, Liverpool Football Club and its fans have been blessed to have witnessed some of the best players the English game has ever seen ply their trade on the fields of Anfield Road.
But there is one who is arguably ‘The King’ of them all, and that man is Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish. Signed by Bob Paisley in 1977 for £440,000, he would go on to be the catalyst in a Liverpool side that conquered all before them.
Not only was he part of arguably the greatest spell in the club’s history, in which the club won eight league titles, three European Cups, two FA Cups and four League/Milk Cups, with his contribution proving crucial such as his winner in the 1978 European Cup Final against Bruges.
In 2009, he was named by FourFourTwo football magazine as the greatest post-war British striker, and he was placed first in Liverpool's list of ‘100 Players Who Shook the Kop’. His International record for Scotland is also enviable, having earned 102 caps, making him the most capped player in the history of the national side, as well sharing the record for most goals scored with Denis Law (30).
Another highlight of his career at Anfield was his strike partnership with Ian Rush. Although the Welshman scored more goals than the Glaswegian, it is fair to say that he wouldn’t have scored as many goals if he didn’t have Dalglish as his support, supplying him with endless chances.
In 1985, Dalglish became player-manager of Liverpool following the Heysel Stadium Disaster and won the double in his first season in charge, defeating local rivals Everton in the process to both the league and the FA Cup. If managing wasn’t enough, he also scored the decisive winner at Chelsea, a victory that gave Liverpool the title.
He also oversaw one of the most entertaining and attractive Liverpool sides in 198-/88 when they secured their 17th league title. Stylish victories such as the 5-0 defeat of Nottingham Forest were the norm, with Sir Tom Finney describing this particular display as ‘the finest exhibition of attacking football ever seen’.
However, the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 (in which 96 Liverpool fans died) was to prove to be a defining moment in both his and the club’s history. In the aftermath both he and his wife Marina were a rock in which the victims’ families could turn to for support. Dalglish won many admirers for his dignity during this tragedy. He attended many of the funerals as did the other Liverpool players.
He is still well-regarded by Liverpool supporters for this reason, as well as for his on-field successes. This alone is arguably enough reason for Dalglish to be regarded as the greatest player/ultimate club legend to have donned the liverbird upon his chest.
Liverpool went on to win the FA Cup that season (perhaps the ultimate tribute to the 96) but the league, and another double, was cruelly snatched away from them thanks to Arsenal and Michael Thomas’ last minute winner in the final game of the season.
The following season saw Dalglish and Liverpool win their 18th, and to date their last league title. But many believe that Dalglish never recovered from the Hillsborough disaster and in February 1991, the Scot resigned (on health grounds) after an epic 4-4 draw against Everton in an FA Cup replay.
In 2009, The King’s association was renewed after being appointed by then manager Rafa Benitez as the Academy’s head of football development and also the club’s official ambassador.
It is fair to say that Kenny Dalglish is the ultimate hero when it comes to Liverpool FC’s long list of footballing legends.
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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