When it comes to naming the most successful striker for Liverpool, there can be just one name worthy of that respect, Ian Rush.
Liverpool’s then manager Bob Paisley paid a record fee for a teenager of £300,000. It remains Chester's record sale almost 30 years on which just goes to show how highly the 18-year old was rated by Paisley. His Reds debut came on the 13 December that year in a First Division fixture at Portman Road against Ipswich Town.
Ironically, he was standing in for his future strike-partner Kenny Dalglish (at the time, one of the most highly-rated strikers in the world) and wore his No. 7 shirt. Midfielder Jimmy Case scored Liverpool's only goal in a 1–1 draw.
At this stage, Liverpool were defending the league title and the League Cup and also contending for the European Cup, while Ipswich were emerging as surprise title contenders.
Rush was used sporadically during his first season at the club, as Liverpool had a policy of bringing in young talent and playing them in the reserves to learn "the Liverpool way".
This learning period was hard and not at all "Rush-like", as the goals didn't flow, almost leading to the eager youngster leaving Anfield in the search of regular first-team football, but he decided to stay on and fight for a place after being motivated by Paisely.
Rush's first goal for the club took time to arrive, but it eventually came on 30 September 1981 during a European Cup first round second leg tie at Anfield against Oulun Palloseura.
He ended the season as the club's top scorer, netting 30 times in just 49 appearances in all competitions, a ratio of one goal every 1.6 games. 17 of these goals came in the League as he helped the Reds reclaim the League championship from holders Aston Villa.
The title triumph was all the more impressive by the fact that Liverpool had entered 1982 in 10th place, with the likes of Manchester United and minnows Swansea City leading the pack then, before a turnaround in Liverpool's fortunes saw the league championship trophy return to Anfield after two years away. He also scored a goal to help Liverpool win the 1982 Football League Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur.
He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1983 after inspiring Liverpool to a second successive First Division/League Cup double, though once again success eluded them in the European Cup. He scored 24 League goals as the Reds finished 11 points clear of runners-up Watford and were virtually uncontested in the title chase in the later part of the season.
On 6 November 1982, Rush scored four goals against Everton in a 5–0 victory, a post-war record for goals by a single player in a Merseyside derby.
The League Cup (Liverpool's third successive triumph in this competition) was added through a 2–1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United after extra time at Wembley. He was voted PFA Player of the Year and BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 1984 as Liverpool retained both the League and the League Cup and won the European Cup to complete a unique treble that season.
It was no surprise that Rush also added the Football Writers Footballer of the Year to the PFA award he had already claimed—the same feat that his strike partner Kenny Dalglish had achieved a year earlier.
He scored 47 goals in 65 games (making him the highest goalscorer in all competitions for any professional club that season), a goal every 1.4 matches, as Liverpool finished three points clear of closest rivals Southampton in the League, beat derby rivals Everton 1–0 in the replayed final of the League Cup (after a 0–0 draw in the first ever all-Merseyside final), and won their fourth European Cup by defeating AS Roma 4–2 on penalties (Rush made it 3–2 before Bruce Grobbelaar's famous 'jelly legs' antics) following a 1–1 draw after extra time.
In 1985, the Rush and Dalglish pair proved lethal, especially against Merseyside rivals Everton in the FA Cup final as Liverpool went on to win 3–1 and completed the first (and so far only) League and FA Cup double in the club's history. Rush added the Man of the Match award to his winner's medal.
In 1992, he picked up a third FA Cup winners' medal, scoring Liverpool's second goal, in the 67th minute, in the 2–0 win against Second Division Sunderland at Wembley.
In March 1996, it was announced that Rush would be leaving Anfield on a free transfer when his contract expired on 1 June.
Rush ended his Liverpool career in two spells with a brief one year uncomfortable stint at Juventus. Rush scored 139 goals for the Reds 224 appearances which lasted from 1980-87. His second spell for the club saw him appear 245 times for the club and score 90 goals therein.(1988-96). Thus his total tally remains an impressive 229 goals for the club in 469 appearances maintaining a record of scoring a goal in every two appearances for the club (approximately).
Ian Rush is thus credited with the tag of being the highest goal scorer for the Reds to date.