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Liverpool FC's 50 Best Players Ever

Karl MatchettFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2013

Liverpool FC's 50 Best Players Ever

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    Liverpool's proud and illustrious history has seen many a great player grace the Anfield pitch, win trophies with the club and show off their skills to thousands of adoring fans.

    Picking the very best of those over the course of more than a century of history is far from an easy feat, yet some still manage to stand out over and above the rest by way of their immense talent, heart and consistency.

    It could almost be a who's who of the greatest, most accomplished players to have played the game in England—but it's just those who have been the best at Liverpool.

    Here are the top 50 players of all time to have represented the mighty Reds.

An Explanatory Note

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    Fifty might sound like a lot of great players, but it's not. At least, it's not for a club with the history of winning and having incredible players that Liverpool have been lucky to parade out, year after year.

    A much larger list had to be whittled down, meaning many top players were left out; hopefully not in lack of recognition for their own abilities and achievements but because there were some who achieved ever more impressive greatness.

    Club captains, players who hoisted silverware aloft, miss out on the top 50, as do plenty of others who found the scoresheet—or stopped opponents from doing so—time and time again in Red.

     

    Rankings

    The first 40 players are listed alphabetically.

    They could be ranked, but what marks out the 38th-best player from the 42nd? Where is the dividing line for the top 25? In short, these are all exceptional players who deserve to be included as a group.

    The top 10, however, are ranked. These are perhaps the players who have contributed the most, shown the greatest ability, proved themselves as heroes to the club and can be, rightfully, considered the greatest Liverpool Football Club players of all time.

John Aldridge

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    A predatory striker from the late 1980s, John Aldridge, kicks us off.

    Aldo spent only two-and-a-half years at the club but had a phenomenal strike rate, recently announced as the best in Liverpool's history.

    Usually bearing the No. 8 shirt on his back, Aldridge hit 63 goals in 104 games, helping to win the 1987-88 league championship and the FA Cup the following season in the process, where he scored in the final at Wembley a year after missing a penalty at the same stage.

    Aldridge left for Real Sociedad in late 1989.

Xabi Alonso

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    Next a relatively recent departure from Anfield: Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso.

    Brought to the club from Real Sociedad in 2004, he was one of Rafael Benitez's first signings. Alonso, now at Real Madrid, was a classy, playmaking central midfielder capable of dictating the flow of a game and splitting an opposition defence with his passing abilities.

    Alonso played 210 games for the Reds, scoring 19 goals. He won the 2005 Champions League and the 2006 FA Cup during his time at the club.

Jack Balmer

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    Jack Balmer was a prolific forward, one of Liverpool's early greats from the post-war era.

    He hit over 100 goals for the Reds, despite seeing part of his career lost during the time the war was on, and he helped Liverpool win the First Division league title in 46-47.

    One of his enduring records comes from scoring hat-tricks in three successive matches during that very campaign. Later, Balmer would captain the Reds until '49, and played at the club until '52.

    He left having scored 111 goals in 312 games.

Peter Beardsley

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    It is rare that a player is allowed to leave Liverpool and move to Everton while still considered a talent, but such is the high regard in which Peter Beardsley is held that few hold the transfer against him. Especially when he was more or less shown the door by his then-manager, Graeme Souness.

    Beardsley was a majestic part of Liverpool's attack during the late 80s, with terrific dribbling talents and an ability to find a team mate with a cool first-time pass. He wasn't shy around the penalty box either, hitting 59 goals in 175 games for the Reds.

    Among his honours at Anfield were two league titles and an FA Cup.

Ian Callaghan

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    Ian Callaghan is one of the most legendary figures of all time amongst Anfield folklore, and he remains the first-team player with the most ever appearances for the club, with 857 games played.

    He spent almost two decades with Liverpool, coming into the team from being a young apprentice and then playing for the reserve team. From 1960 to 1978, he won five league titles, two FA Cups, two UEFA Cups and two European Cups.

    Not only that, but he was part of England's successful 1966 World Cup-winning squad and was awarded an MBE too.

    Cally played initially as a winger and then, later in his career after an operation, as a central midfielder and was a mainstay in the team under both Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.

    He scored 68 goals in his time at the club.

Jamie Carragher

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    From the player with the most ever appearances with the club, to the player with the second-most ever.

    Jamie Carragher is in the final weeks of his professional career, having decided to retire at the end of this season, and has made 733 appearances to date, scoring five goals.

    Passion, commitment and resilience are words synonymous with Carragher and his career, but he also brings no shortage of talent, experience and organisational skill. You suspect he may be rather more strongly missed than might have been expected when he is no longer around the training ground next season.

    Carragher has won the UEFA Cup, the Champions League and a whole host of domestic cup trophies, but the league championship he craved has always eluded him.

Jimmy Case

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    Local-born midfielder Jimmy Case made the breakthrough to the Reds first team in 1975 and represented his side with distinction for 269 games, scoring 46 times.

    Case played in midfield for the Reds and was a great all-round player, combining a fearless approach to defensive work with a truly technical and aggressive ability to attack. It was far from just being "hard" that saw him as successful in the team, though, as he attests to himself.

    His debut season culminated in a league and a UEFA Cup double, before he went on to win no less than three European Cups with the Reds.

    In 1981 Case left the Reds, a local hero made extremely good.

Ray Clemence

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    For a long time regarded as perhaps the best-ever Liverpool goalkeeper, Ray Clemence played at Anfield from '68 to '81, making 665 appearances for the first team overall.

    Clem was an athletic and reliable stopper, capable of the spectacular but rather more dependable because of his consistency. Shot stopping, distributing and organisation; Clemence was master of all.

    As Reds goalkeeper he won pretty much everything in the game; league titles, both domestic cups, UEFA Cups and European Cups. Clemence was unrivalled at home or, arguably, abroad, and he set many goalkeeping and defensive records that stood for a long, long time.

Bruce Grobbelaar

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    Straight onto a second goalkeeper now and the man who replaced Clemence in the team in 1981 and didn't miss a game for the next five years—Zimbabwe international stopper Bruce Grobbelaar.

    Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish all kept Grobbelaar as their first-choice keeper, and no wonder as the slightly mad South African-born Grobbelaar helped win six league titles, six domestic cups and a European Cup in Rome, in 1984.

    He played 628 times for Liverpool all told before leaving soon after the Premier League era began.

Dietmar Hamann

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    Former central midfielder Dietmar Hamann is up next, having played 283 games for the Reds in a seven-year stay at Anfield and played a big role in the victorious 2005 Champions League campaign.

    Hamann acted as a protector to the Liverpool defence and was a reliable and consistent performer, always capable of stepping in to win the ball when situations looked at their most dire.

    The former Germany international provided the base from which the more attack-minded members of the team could set out from, knowing that they had great cover behind them at every moment.

Steve Heighway

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    Once a tricky and entertaining winger, now Steve Heighway's exploits as a player are immortalised in song on the Anfield terraces.

    He played for Liverpool for more than a decade, making 475 appearances all told between '70 and '81, scoring 76 goals in total. The Irish international was a frequent creator of chances for his teammates rather than a regular goal-getter himself, but the sight of him tearing down the flank invariably meant that Liverpool would have a chance on goal soon enough.

    Heighway went on to take charge of the Liverpool academy after his playing days ended.

Gordon Hodgson

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    An early Kop hero, Gordon Hodgson played as a forward for the Reds between 1926 and 1936. He was hugely prolific, hitting 241 goals in his decade at the club, and still to this day holds the club record for scoring the most hat-tricks—he netted 17 all told in Red.

    Hodgson played for Liverpool at a time when the club was not successful on the field, yet he remained loyal to the team when he probably could have taken his goalscoring exploits elsewhere.

    He was a true great in the early eras of Liverpool, and to this day only two players have managed to find the net more times than him. Hodgson played 377 times for the Reds.

Emlyn Hughes

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    "Crazy Horse" Emlyn Hughes is a Liverpool legend in his own right, having enjoyed huge success with the club during the 60s and 70s. He became the first Reds captain to lift the European Cup in Rome.

    He won the FA Cup in his first full season as club captain and the league and UEFA Cup the year after, in 1975-76. Playing at left-back, in midfield or in the centre of defence, Hughes was an athletic and enthusiastic figure on the pitch as he dominated rival teams and inspired his own.

    Hughes played 665 games for Liverpool, scoring 49 goals. He died in 2004 aged 57.

Sami Hyypia

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    A monster of a defender signed at a paltry £3.5 million, Sami Hyypia remains one of the best foreign signings the Premier League era has ever seen.

    The Finnish centre-back was brought to the club by manager Gerard Houllier and won a host of trophies in a decade on Merseyside, including the UEFA Cup and the Champions League. He played 464 times for the Reds, scoring 35 goals.

    Tall, great in the air, composed on the deck, two-footed and able to read the game as well as anybody, Sami was unbeatable on his day and was deservedly given a magnificent send-off when he finally left the club in 2009.

Kevin Keegan

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    Maybe the biggest poster boy of his era, Kevin Keegan was a phenomenally gifted forward who scored precisely 100 goals for Liverpool.

    His Anfield career spanned six years, during which time he forged the famous partnership up front with John Toshack and won the UEFA Cup, the league title, the FA Cup and, finally in his last season with the club, the European Cup.

    Keegan terrorised defences with his hard work, excellent skill on the ball and deadly eye for goal during 323 matches in Red.

Alan Kennedy

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    Alan Kennedy was one of the great attacking full-backs of the late 70s and 80s, raiding down the left flank with his trademark surging runs. He was a defender first and foremost, but somehow always seemed to be in the right place to score important goals for Liverpool in big games.

    Kennedy scored in the '81 European Cup final, netted a penalty in the shootout in '84 and also found the net in two different League Cup finals.

    He played 359 times in all for Liverpool, scoring a total of 20 goals.

Ray Kennedy

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    Ray Kennedy won three European Cups and six league titles during his time at Anfield—but it almost turned out far worse for him. Having originally joined as a striker from Arsenal, Kennedy failed to find form or fitness in his first season and soon lost his place.

    However, manager Bob Paisley switched him to left wing instead, and he soon settled into the side as a regular from that position.

    Kennedy played 393 times, scoring 72 goals for the Reds, before leaving in the 1981-82 season.

Chris Lawler

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    Chris Lawler was another local-born player who broke into the team and spent around a decade at the club, eventually taking the place of the great Ronnie Moran at full-back and playing 549 games for Liverpool. During that time he also scored 61 goals.

    Lawler won the FA Cup twice, the league championship and the UEFA Cup and was a key member of the team under Bill Shankly.

    He also coached the Reds' reserve team for a spell after his playing days were over.

Tommy Lawrence

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    Tommy Lawrence was Liverpool's goalkeeper under Bill Shankly and was known by fans as the "Flying Pig" due to his slightly tubby appearance!

    He won the FA Cup as the Reds finally tasted victory in that competition for the first time, as well as two league championships in the 60s.

    He played 390 times for Liverpool before losing his place to Ray Clemence as Shanks sought to build his next great team.

    Lawrence was an integral part of the initial building blocks of the success that Liverpool tasted through the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Mark Lawrenson

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    A top centre-back from the 1980s now and Mark Lawrenson, who was a club record signing when he joined Liverpool from Brighton and Hove Albion.

    He played 356 games for the Reds, scoring 18 times, and was a versatile and reliable performer across the back line for seven years, during which time he won three league championships in a row, three League Cups in a row, a European Cup and an FA Cup.

    Lawro had to retire early through injury, barely into his 30s, and his formidable partnership with Alan Hansen thus came to an end.

Sammy Lee

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    Liverpool-born Sammy Lee had to be patient for his chance in the first team but eventually took the place of Jimmy Case in the 1980-81 season in midfield. He held on to the position for the next five years, making 295 appearances all told, scoring 19 goals in the process.

    Lee brought an abundance of energy and work ethic to the team but also had plenty of quality on the ball.

    He won League Cups, a European Cup and three league championships during his time in the team, before leaving in '86. His time at Liverpool wasn't over, though, as he had spells as a coach and assistant manager for the first team after his playing days wound down.

Alec Lindsay

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    Left-back Alec Lindsay is next on the list, having served the club faithfully from '69 to '77. He took a year to find his place in the team and was eventually ousted by another top-class full-back toward the end of his time at Anfield, but in between his was an influential player, reliable and impressive in his 248 games.

    Lindsay was the first-choice penalty taker for a while and scored 18 goals in total.

    In 1972-73, Lindsay enjoyed his best campaign as he helped the Reds to a league and UEFA Cup double.

Ephraim Longworth

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    One of the earliest Liverpool greats, Ephraim Longworth was a right-back for the Reds from 1910 to 1928, spanning 371 games—but he never scored a single goal.

    He certainly would have played far more, though his career was interrupted by the First World War.

    After the professional league resumption post-war, he helped the Reds win the league championship in 1922 and '23. When he retired from playing he became a coach with Liverpool.

Terry McDermott

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    Terry McDermott was a ferocious and talented midfielder in the centre of Liverpool's teams during the eight years he spent at Anfield, becoming known for his creativity and passing ability as much as his lung-bursting runs and spectacular, long-range shooting.

    A Liverpool-born lad, the Reds actually signed him from Newcastle United in 1974, and he went on to score in and win the '77 European Cup final.

    He is currently on the coaching staff as an assistant manager with Birmingham City in the English Championship.

Steve McManaman

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    Steve McManaman came through the youth system at Liverpool in 1990 and played the entire decade at the club, moving from promising youngster to the best creative player in the team and eventually to club captain.

    In the two cup finals the club triumphed in during his time at Anfield, McManaman was named Man of the Match in both—the '92 FA Cup against Sunderland and the '95 League Cup against Bolton.

    McManaman was never the most prolific of goalscorers, but he was eminently capable of scoring the most mind-blowing individual strikes you could hope to see, such was his pace, trickery on the ball and ability to work space well.

    He disappointed supporters by leaving on a free transfer, one of the early Bosman deals, in 1999, but that cannot detract from the magnificent impact he had on the team during the 90s.

Jan Molby

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    Possibly the best passer of a ball Anfield has ever seen, and definitely the most boss foreign Scouse accent of them all.

    Jan Molby, the Great Dane, played for Liverpool for 12 years and probably covered every blade of grass in the centre circle. He didn't venture too far forward or backward, or so it seemed at times, but the man could find any teammate anywhere on the pitch with a swing of one of his talented boots.

    Big Jan played his part in title championship victories and an FA Cup win in '92, but injuries prevented him from displaying his talents for longer than he would have liked.

    Even so, Molby made 292 appearances and scored 61 goals, 42 of which were penalties.

Phil Neal

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    A real Mr. Dependable, Phil Neal was an excellent early attacking right-back and to this day remains the most decorated player in the club's history, winning a total of 22 trophies.

    Neal made his debut for Liverpool in 1974 and went on to play a massive 650 games for the Reds, scoring 59 goals in that time.

    Having captained his team for a year, Neal eventually left in 1985 having contributed to winning all four of Liverpool's first European Cups, eight league titles and a UEFA Cup.

Steve Nicol

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    An underrated player by those outside the club, Steve Nicol was a terrific servant for Liverpool who could play anywhere along the back line or in midfield, but perhaps excelled the most in the full-back role.

    Chips, as he was known, spent 14 years at the club, playing under managers from Paisley through to Roy Evans and racking up 468 appearances in all, along with 46 goals. He was so dependable that, even when he did not have a regular spot in one position, he still clocked up huge numbers of appearances each season in a variety of roles.

    Nicol counts four league titles and the 1984 European Cup amongst his medal collection, and is now a coach, most recently working in the MLS with New England Revolution.

Alex Raisbeck

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    Alex Raisbeck is the earliest name to feature on the list, having made his Liverpool debut in the 19th century—he played from 1898 until 1909.

    The Scotsman was a solid central defender and captained Liverpool to their first ever league championship triumph in 1900-01; he was known as much for stopping the opposition as for instigating the Reds' attacks from deep.

    Rasibeck played 341 games for the Reds and scored 19 goals.

Pepe Reina

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    Pepe Reina is the long-standing present Liverpool goalkeeper who has been with the club since 2005. His consistency and incredible ability saw him very quickly become a fan favourite, but more importantly he kept record-breaking numbers of clean sheets to help the Reds become one of the top teams in Europe.

    Though he has suffered with form over the past couple of seasons, there are very few on this list who did not. Most recently, Reina has been getting back to his top form once more.

    He has won the FA and League Cups with Liverpool and has the record for the club of keeping 11 clean sheets in a row. Reina has so far played 391 times for the Reds.

Elisha Scott

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    Another goalkeeper now and the last one on our list, and one of the first real Kop favourites.

    Elisha Scott was a Northern Irish goalkeeper who joined the Reds in 1912, making his debut the following year, and remained at Anfield until 1934. During that lengthy spell, which was in part interrupted by the war, Scott played 468 times for Liverpool and won back-to-back league titles in '22 and '23.

    He is still regarded by some as the finest stopper the Reds have had in their history.

Tommy Smith

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    Probably the hardest man to ever play for Liverpool, Tommy Smith was a rock-solid central defender who was as capable on the ball as he was thunderous in the challenge.

    Smith made his debut in '63 and played 638 games, scoring 48 goals, before he left after 18 years with the club.

    The Anfield Iron, as he was known, won a host of trophies including the first FA Cup Liverpool ever won, the UEFA Cup which he lifted as captain, and the 1977 European Cup, where he scored in the final.

    He was one of the greatest defenders the game, and the club, have ever seen and has been a Liverpool supporter from day one.

Ian St. John

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    Ian St. John was a wonderful finisher during the 1960s and scored one of the most famous Liverpool goals ever: the header that sealed the Reds' first ever FA Cup win in 1965. It was just one of 118 goals he managed during his decade with Liverpool, in 425 games.

    A short but stocky forward, St. John made up for his lack of height with an amazing spring and was a real aerial threat.

    He had terrific movement and a good burst of acceleration about him, but rather than a poacher was a top all-round forward who could create chances for his teammates—and his strike partner in particular—as well as score them himself.

Albert Stubbins

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    Albert Stubbins formed a deadly partnership with another name from our list, Jack Balmer, and hit 83 goals in 178 games for the Reds.

    Stubbins played in the team after the Second World War finished, from '46 to '53, though by the time he left he was firmly in the veteran category and no longer a first-team regular.

    His best total for a single campaign was 24 goals, a number he reached in two separate seasons.

Luis Suarez

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    Another name from the present-day Liverpool squad now, and the charismatic, enigmatic and controversial figure that is Luis Suarez.

    The Uruguayan forward has been an exciting and eclectic mix of the sublime and the terrifying since joining from Ajax in 2011, but there is no denying his inexplicable ability to beat scores of defenders with the ball at his feet and find the back of the net.

    Suarez so far has registered 51 goals for the Reds in only 96 games, including 30 in all competitions in the present season.

    By far Liverpool's biggest present-day talent, Suarez is a true world-class great and shows, along with his technical ability, impressive mental resilience and consistency.

Peter Thompson

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    One of the most exciting and skilful wingers of the 1960s, Peter Thompson was a master at beating his opposite number into submission with a combination of pace and wizardry with the ball at his feet.

    Having joined the Reds in 1963, he quickly became an important member of the first XI and won a league title in his very first season at the club. An FA Cup and another league title win followed in the coming years.

    Age and injuries took their toll, and by the end of the decade he was starting to lose his pace and his place in the team. Thompson left in early '74 for Bolton Wanderers, having played 416 times for Liverpool, scoring 54 goals and leaving countless full-backs dazed and confused in his wake.

Phil Thompson

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    One of the greatest central defenders to play for Liverpool, Phil Thompson was a Reds fan from a young age and came through the club's system from unknown youngster to European Cup-winning club captain.

    Thompson was strong in the tackle but also an excellent technical player and could pass the ball or run through midfield without looking out of place in the slightest.

    The first FA Cup, the first League Cup, a host of league titles and, of course, European Cups meant that Thompson was one of the most successful local footballers to have ever graced the game.

    After leaving in 1985, having played 477 times and scored 13 goals, Thompson was also an assistant manager under Gerard Houllier.

Fernando Torres

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    No longer a fan favourite after the manner of his departure, Spanish striker Fernando Torres nevertheless remains one of the greatest strikers to have played for the club.

    During the three full seasons he spent at Liverpool from 2007 to 2010, Torres was widely regarded as one of the very best out-and-out strikers anywhere in world football. He remained at the club for another half-a-season before completing a record transfer to Chelsea, but he has never quite recaptured the same prolific form or menacing aura since.

    Torres scored 81 goals in just 142 games for the Reds, breaking the 30-goal barrier in his debut season. Injuries prevented him from having an even bigger impact at times and perhaps even prevented a title-winning season in 2008-09, but Torres' incredible ability to find the net with a half chance or at the end of a solo, slaloming run ensured he was Liverpool's deadliest weapon for a time.

John Toshack

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    Onto another striker and the legendary John Toshack, the Welsh forward who hit 96 goals in 247 appearances for the Reds during the 1970s.

    Tosh was a big, target man-type forward who was powerful and dominant in the air. The sight of him knocking down a high pass for Kevin Keegan to smash home was a familiar one as Liverpool ran riot in the 72-73 UEFA Cup in particular.

    Injury meant that Toshack did not feature in the '77 European Cup final, but he did win a second UEFA Cup medal prior to that, as well as a couple of domestic league and cup medals.

John Wark

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    John Wark completes our list of 40 names, a Scottish central midfielder who played for the Reds from 1984 to 1988 and had a strike record from the middle of the park that plenty of top strikers would be proud of.

    In total, Wark netted 42 goals in only 108 matches for the club, a very impressive record.

    He both joined Liverpool from, and left Liverpool for, Ipswich Town, but in the almost-four years he spent on Merseyside, Wark was a part of the side which won two league titles—though he was personally at his best in his full debut campaign, as he top scored for the club with 27 goals in all competitions.

10. Billy Liddell

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    Into the top 10 all-time greatest Liverpool players now, and we kick off with a man so good that they renamed the club after him.

    Billy Liddell was a Scottish winger who played for the Reds during the 40s and 50s, and so reliant upon him did the team come during those days of Division Two football that the name "Liddellpool" was coined.

    Liddell played for the Reds for the final time in 1960, having made 534 appearances all told, a then-record that Ian Callaghan finally managed to break years later. He was club captain, scored 228 goals and won a league title in 46-47, prior to the Reds being relegated in the mid-50s.

    The forward was, and remains, an all-time great who represented the club with distinction on and off the field, was never booked in his career and was maybe one of the most complete attackers to have ever played for Liverpool.

9. Ron Yeats

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    Ron Yeats was the backbone of the first great side that Bill Shankly built at Liverpool, turning the team from the Second Division to the heights of European football.

    Yeats joined in 1961 and soon after helped the club back to the top flight—and a league championship soon followed in 63-64. The very next season he became the first Liverpool captain to win the FA Cup, and then another league title in '66.

    Shankly had made Ron Yeats the benchmark for all future successful Liverpool defenders; strong, reliable, unbeatable in the air or on the ground and above all else, a winner.

    Yeats played 454 games in total for Liverpool, scoring 16 goals, and returned to the club as chief scout after his retirement as a player.

8. Alan Hansen

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    Eight league titles, three European Cups, the first Liverpool captain to lift the double in 1986 and a grand total of 620 appearances over 14 seasons; Alan Hansen is the very finest defender to have ever played for Liverpool.

    Elegant, classy, domineering and able to read the game several passes ahead of time, Hansen was a formidable figure for well over a decade and would have lasted even longer at the club if he had not succumbed to serious knee injuries.

    The Scottish centre-back could move rapidly out of the defensive line into midfield, initiating attacks for his team, and scored 14 goals himself while at the club.

7. Roger Hunt

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    The greatest league goalscorer to have ever worn the Red shirt, Roger Hunt netted a grand total of 286 goals for Liverpool in 492 games.

    "Sir" Roger was the man who, alongside Ian St. John, shot Liverpool out of Division Two and back into the top flight under Bill Shankly, and the duo remained a potent goal threat back in the big time. The 41 goals scored in 41 games during the 61-62 season was testament to his goalscoring abilities.

    Hunt was a fleet-footed, hard-working striker, but goals were his main currency; he fired the Reds to multiple league titles and their first-ever FA Cup win.

    Hunt left Liverpool in 1969, a decade after making his debut.

6. Ian Rush

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    The scourge of Evertonians, Ian Rush is Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer having plundered a massive total of 346 goals in 660 games during his two spells with the club.

    Initially signed from Chester City in 1980, Rush took more than a year to really get going in the team but hit the 30-goal mark in 1981-82 as Liverpool won the League and League Cup double. Just a few months into the next season he had one of his finest moments as he rattled four goals past a stunned Everton, the club he had supported as a youngster.

    In 1983-84 he won the European Golden Boot after hitting 47 goals, as the Reds won a League, League Cup and European Cup treble. The goals continued to flow until Rush left for Italy and Juventus in 1987, but he was back a year later and continued to score for fun.

    Rush later became Liverpool captain and lifted the '95 League Cup, his final piece of silverware for the club, as he departed for Leeds United a year later.

5. Robbie Fowler

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    The departure of Kop icon Ian Rush would have been a hammer blow for most teams, but by then Liverpool had their own new star striker, local lad Robbie Fowler.

    God, as he became known, made the breakthrough in late 1993, scoring on his debut in the League Cup against Fulham—then hitting five goals in one game in the return leg.

    Fowler scored the quickest-ever Premier League hat-trick in four minutes and 33 seconds, a record that still stands and then smashed the 30-goal barrier in 1994-95 as he helped clinch the League Cup trophy.

    Incredible goalscoring feats continued to be achieved by Fowler, who had an unerring ability to find the back of the net with any part of his body; either foot, his head, his knee—however the ball needed to be fit, Fowler would manage it.

    Not the quickest, but blessed with a knack of finding space and great close control, Fowler was and remains a true Liverpool legend. Injuries restricted him from achieving the very best he might have gone on to be, but he was offered a return to Liverpool in 2006, some five years after leaving the club initially.

    Fowler remains one of the biggest favourites to have represented the club and was one of the most natural goalscorers of all time. He ended his Reds career with a total of 183 goals in 369 games.

4. Graeme Souness

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    Into the top four and the very greatest of the greats now, beginning with the moustachioed midfield enforcer, Graeme Souness.

    Souey was a curious mixture of a tap-dancing rhinoceros on steroids; thunderous in the challenge, unflappable under pressure, hard as a rock and yet graceful and elegant on the ball as the most coveted of modern-day playmakers.

    He patrolled the centre of some of the greatest Liverpool teams constructed to date, joining in early 1978 and winning a European Cup within months.

    Made captain in 1982, Liverpool went on to win the league championship that season and, two years later, the treble victory of League, League Cup and European Cup. It was his greatest hour in a Red shirt—and his last, as he departed for Italy that summer.

    All told, Souness played 359 games for Liverpool, scored 55 goals and won 15 major trophies.

3. Steven Gerrard

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    History may in time judge Steven Gerrard to be the very greatest Liverpool player of all time, but the current Reds captain still has work unfinished in what has already been a magnificent career.

    From a youngster as an archetypal box-to-box midfielder, Gerrard has been the best player in a generation in his home club and country as a wide midfielder, a powerful No. 10 and now a creative influence from a deeper role in midfield.

    Goals, spectacular and regular, have been created and scored by this most marvellous of specimens, and the lifelong Reds fan still hopes there are more trophies to add to what is an impressive haul. In pride of place stands the European Cup, lifted as captain in 2005, but multiple FA and League Cups, as well as a UEFA Cup, are similarly awe-inspiring.

    Gerrard has 159 goals in 628 games to date, and will surely go on to become only the third man to surpass the 700-game mark in the next couple of years.

2. Kenny Dalglish

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    Along with Souness, Gerrard, Liddell and others, for many Kenny Dalglish is the greatest man to have ever played for Liverpool. And though he resides second here, there is little to decide between some of Liverpool's best all-time talents.

    Dalglish arrived from Celtic to take the place of the outgoing Kevin Keegan in 1977, and he stayed until 1991, scoring 172 goals in 515 games along the way.

    In his first season Dalglish scored the winning goal in the '78 European Cup final, just one of a series of great moments that he provided the club with. A fantastic team player, clever on the ball and with a range of skills that made it near-impossible to get the ball off him, Dalglish was the biggest part of the most feared team around during the late 70s and right the way through the 80s.

    The King Kenny goal celebration remains one of the most enduring Liverpool-related images today, whether it be from his time as a player, or either of his stints as manager. Dalglish was, is and will always be a massive part of Liverpool folklore.

1. John Barnes

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    In terms of outrageous ability on the ball, what he brought to the team and his contribution to the Liverpool—and wider football—cause, John Barnes can be crowned Liverpool's best-ever footballer.

    Once Digger had hold of the ball, there was simply no getting it back off him if you were on the opposition side; at least not until you picked the ball out of the net after one of his searing shots or trademark bursts down the wing and crosses for a teammate.

    Barnes arrived in 1987 and slotted straight into the best team in the land, bringing a pace, energy and level of skill surpassed by friend or foe. Not only that, but he, along with a few other big names around the top flight, helped to overcome the stigma of black footballers playing professional football and the racial abuse they had been subjected to.

    The Reds' left winger was untouchable; whether he chose to run with the ball at his feet, pass to a teammate or head directly for goal, he was a simply unstoppable force. Player of the Year accolades and a league title came his way after the very first season; an FA Cup winners' medal quickly followed the next, and another league title the next.

    After injury, a switch to central midfield came with Barnes no longer able to fly down the wing, instead patrolling and controlling games with his immense passing and technique on the ball. He became club captain and, though the trophies dried up as Liverpool went through a sea-change, his performances were only ever affected by injury and, eventually, age.

    As fine an attacker as has ever plied his trade in the top flight of England, Barnes, Liverpool's most original No. 10, ended his Anfield career with 108 goals in 407 appearances.

     

    Player data and stats from LiverpoolFC.com and LFCHistory.net.

    Attributes and abilities of players from eras gone by researched and reproduced in good faith from similarly reputable resources.

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