Happy Birthday to Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan! The former midfielder turns 76 today.
During his time at Anfield, Callaghan won five First Divison titles, one Second Division title, two FA Cup’s, four Charity Shields, two European Cups, Two UEFA Cups, and one UEFA Super Cup.
When Billy Liddell was retiring he was asked if anyone in the Liverpool youth ranks was worthy enough of taking his place, Liddell didn’t have to think twice when putting Ian Callaghan name forward. Callaghan played his first game six days after his 18th birthday by replacing his boyhood hero Billy Liddell with the Reds beating Bristol Rovers 4-0 but Callaghan’s performance captured the imagination and when the final whistle went the whole of the 27,000 spectators gave him a standing ovation with the headline in the Daily post reading ‘A Callaghan debut to remember’.
However, although the youngster put in a performance to remember Bill Shankly did not want to have to rely on him so soon and bought Kevin Lewis before the start of the 1960/61 season. Lewis scored 22 goals in 36 games meaning Callaghan had to bide his time. The Reds got promoted in 1961/62 and from November that season the youngster was finally a regular and stayed amongst the team over the next 15 years. During the first part of his career Callaghan was mainly a right winger with Peter Thompson on the left. The duo created a load of chances for Roger Hunt and Ian St John up front.
Fans will never forget when Callaghan created Ian St John’s goal in the 1965 FA Cup final. The game stood at 1-1 in extra-time. Callaghan crossed the ball in from the right with St John heading the ball into the back of the net meaning Liverpool went on to win their first FA Cup in the club’s history. Shankly said ‘He is a model professional. If you had 11 Callaghans at Anfield there would be no reason to put up a team sheet, you could stake your life on him’.
During the 1970/71 season Callaghan underwent a knee operation and Brian Hall took his place. When he returned from injury Shankly moved him into centre midfield which prolonged his Liverpool career by seven years. He set a new record of appearances for Liverpool in August 1972 breaking Billy Liddell’s long standing club-record of 534. Callaghan lost his place to Graeme Souness but made the bench in the Wembley final, this was the last time his name appeared on the Liverpool team sheet. He had gone through the whole of his Liverpool career without being sent off or even booked when the referee took his name down in Callaghan’s penultimate game for Liverpool in March 1978. In September 1978, Callaghan left Liverpool after 19 seasons with the Reds, he had been on loan at Fort Lauderdale during the summer. Callaghan later signed for John Toshacks Swansea where he played with Tommy Smith, he had planned to retire in 1981 but was persuaded by his old mate Alan A’Court, who was assistant manager at Crewe, to share his experience in the game. Callaghan stayed five months there before he did his achillies tendon and retired two months short of his 40th birthday.
Ian Callaghan has one of the most remarkable careers of any player in football. He is the club’s record appearance holder with a total of 857 games and was the first Liverpool player to be voted Footballer of the Year in 1974. He only played four times for his country but was a part of the 1966 World Cup winning team.
Article by Lauren Black – @LaurenBlack9
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