He is the first foreigner to have spent a decade at an English club. Jan Mølby is arguably the finest passer of a ball to have graced the turf at Anfield.
During the second week of a trial at Liverpool in 1984, Mølby scored a wonder goal. Joe Fagan wasted little time in shelling out £225.000, deciding that the giant Dane was a more than adequate replacement for the departing Graeme Souness. Fagan’s judgement proved spot on, with Mølby splitting defensive rearguards with Liverpool for 12 years, on the way to making 292 appearances and notching 60 goals.
Prior to joining the Reds, the hulking Mølby had captained Kolding - his hometown club, before being recruited to the football academy at Ajax. There he joined forces with Marco Van Basten and Johan Cruyff to win the 1983 Dutch league championship.
Massive in size and stature, Mølby was not the fastest to move from A to B, but his intelligence, quick thinking, thunderous shot and immeasurable array of passing skills made him one of the most feared midfielders in Europe.
Mølby made a memorable Liverpool debut. His first touch – a lob into the Carrow Road penalty area was turned into his own net by fellow debutant Steve Bruce.
His greatest campaign was the 1985/86 season where Big Jan orchestrated Liverpool’s unstoppable pass and move play on route to wining the English domestic double. It was also a season of personal triumph, with Mølby striking 21 goals in 59 matches.
His greatest game was the 1986 F.A Cup final where he set up Ian Rush and Craig Johnston’s goals, playing a significant part in the Rush’s clinching third after a chip from Ronnie Whelan.
The outstanding Mølby walked off with the man of the match award. An effective ploy favoured by Kenny Dalglish was to use Mølby as a sweeper, before the elegant midfielder pushed up field unexpectedly to partner Steve McMahon in the engine room with devastating effect.
Memorable games included the “greatest goal that was never seen” - a stupendous Milk Cup strike against Big Ron’s Manchester United, and a penalty hat trick during a League Cup tie against Coventry. Liverpool finished second in the League that year and lost the League Cup at Wembley after a brace from Arsenal’s Charlie Nicholas.
Injuries meant that the dead ball expert never quite hit the heights of his second season at Anfield, missing out on nearly all of the 1987/88 season through injury. Mølby compounded his misery by being jailed for a driving offence.
Mølby, who once said: "We had a belief that we believed in," helped spearhead the Reds to their 18th title in 1989/90 and Liverpool did not lose a single match in league or cup that season when the Dane was not in the starting line-up.
Before a Merseyside derby, Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Ingham commented: "Mølby's still only a substitute even though he'd probably walk into any other first division team".
Discontented at not being a regular it looked like he would move on. It was a measure of the stature Mølby was held in within the game when Barcelona and a certain Johan Cruyff came calling. A deal to one of European football’s glamour club looked certain until the deal unexpectedly broke down over terms.
He nearly crossed Stanley Park to join the Toffees in 1991-92, but won back his starting place, before coordinating an F.A Cup win for Graham Souness over Sunderland.
After featuring less under Roy Evans, Mølby joined Swansea City as player manager, taking the Welsh team to the Division Three play-off final. Aged 32, Mølby became the youngest manager of any Football League or Premier League club. He was by the Swans sacked in 1997.
Other managerial posts offered winning the Conference title with Kidderminster Harriers, and a short stint with Hull City. A return to Kidderminster ended in relegation and resignation.
Mølby scored 62 goals – 42 penalties. He still holds the club record for most penalties scored by a Liverpool player and his top flight record is second only to Mathew Le Tissier.
Mølby, who won 33 Danish caps was made an honorary Scouser in 2009.
Mølby is famous for his Scouse accent, which he say’s he honed after years of changing next to Sammy Lee. He won two championships and two FA Cups and in the 2006 poll "100 Players Who Shook The Kop", the Dane polled number 16 – the highest placed overseas player on the list.
It wasn’t until the mercurial Gary McAllister in 2000 that Liverpool found a replacement for the Great Dane.
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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