Steven Gerrard vs. Kenny Dalglish: Scoring the Battle of Liverpool Legends
It is a debate that has raged in public houses around Anfield and far beyond for years―just who is better, Steven Gerrard or Kenny Dalglish?
Liverpool have been blessed with fantastic footballers over the years, ranging from Billy Liddell to Kevin Keegan to Graeme Souness to John Barnes to Ian Rush to Robbie Fowler and many, many more, but the feats achieved by Gerrard and Dalglish have, by popular opinion, seen them ranked above all of their counterparts and considered the best two players ever to have played for the club.
But who comes out on top in a battle between the pair? The current captain and heartbeat of the side, or the 1970s and 80s legend and two-time manager of the club?
It’s time to get the scorecard out:
Whilst there is a very noticeable blank space on Gerrard’s career CV that will probably never be filled, Dalglish can boast no less than six league championships.
Add to that three European Cups, four League Cups (won in consecutive years) and two FA Cups, and the Scot can boast one of the more successful careers in British football―and that’s even before you start counting his career as a manager.
If you were to do that then two more league championships (plus one with Blackburn) and last year’s League Cup can also be added, ensuring that Gerrard―who has won everything that it is possible to win at club level bar the league―has a tough task to live up to.
His Champions League, UEFA Cup, two FA Cups and three League Cups are a fine effort, but Dalglish―who won the Ballon d’Or Silver Award in 1983 compared to Gerrard’s Bronze in 2005―takes this round.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 1 Steven Gerrard 0
Dalglish scored the goal that won Liverpool the 1978 European Cup Final against FC Bruges at Wembley at the end of his first season at the club, whilst at the end of his first season as player-manager in 1985/86 he scored the winner on the final day of the campaign at Chelsea, which secured the Reds the double.
There were plenty of other iconic moments for the Scot during his time with the club―both on and off the pitch―but iconography is what Gerrard has specialised in throughout his career.
The Huyton-born midfielder is the only man in history to score in Champions League, UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup finals, most famously starting the comeback against AC Milan in Istanbul in 2005 with a header that reduced the arrears to 3-1, before his stunning two-goal display against West Ham in the FA Cup Final the following year.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 1 Steven Gerrard 1
This argument is more than a little unfair given that Gerrard started his Reds career as a right-back and then played for three seasons as a defensive midfielder, but Dalglish’s goalscoring exploits as a second striker see him take this round.
The Scot scored 169 goals in 501 games for Liverpool following his move from Celtic in 1977, whilst crucially he would have created about the same amount for other players, most notably Ian Rush.
Gerrard is likely to surpass Dalglish’s total goals for the Reds given that he currently stands just 10 strikes off his total, but the Englishman has played well over 100 more games for the club so he’ll have to concede this one to his former boss.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 2 Steven Gerrard 1
Dalglish was joining the European champions when he left Celtic for Liverpool in 1977, when he linked up with top-class players such as Alan Hansen, Graeme Souness, Ray Kennedy and Emlyn Hughes.
Once at Liverpool there was simply nowhere better for him to go, the same of which could not be said for Gerrard.
Playing in an inferior team that he helped drag to remarkable Champions League success in 2005, Gerrard infamously came close to leaving the Reds for Chelsea both the summer before and after Liverpool’s win in Istanbul.
Late changes of heart meant that he couldn’t go through with the move and ensured that the captain stayed with the Reds through good times and bad, reaffirming his loyalty to his boyhood club.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 2 Steven Gerrard 2
As a football club, Liverpool have had to go through the kind of harrowing experiences that simply can’t be wished on anyone.
Dalglish was a Liverpool player at the time of the Heysel disaster in 1985 and then was the Reds’ manager when 96 supporters―including 10-year-old John-Paul Gilhooley, Gerrard’s cousin―lost their lives due to policing failures at Hillsborough in an FA Cup semi-final in 1989.
The leadership shown by Liverpool’s figurehead following the disaster was nothing short of astonishing, as he made it a personal mission to attend as many of the victims’ funerals as he could―including four in one day.
This pressure later took its toll on the manager and led to his shock resignation in early 1991, when he was left drained from the level of leadership he had shown in extremely trying times.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 3 Steven Gerrard 2
Perhaps being a local lad gave him somewhat of an advantage, but there always seemed to be something about Gerrard that was special from the moment he broke into the first team as a skinny right-back in 1998.
He has since gone on to be regarded as one of the finest midfielders of his generation, a true star of the world game at a time when those stars can reap the benefits of top-level international football and the exposure that goes with it.
Gerrard has accepted those gifts readily, stamping his authority all over countless games of football across countless countries, with his legend already firmly secured in the game at the age of 32.
Score: Kenny Dalglish 3 Steven Gerrard 3
So there we have it then, a 3-3 draw. These two simply can’t be separated at the moment.
Perhaps propelling this new Liverpool to success over the next two or three years will see Gerrard eclipse Dalglish, especially given that he has had to play all of his career in teams inferior to those that his former boss starred in. He may even become Reds manager one day, but for now this contest remains even.
Whatever the forthcoming years bring, Liverpool can be thankful that both men have represented them with pride for so long.