Liverpool FC's Top 10 Right Backs Ever
Liverpool Football Club is in a phase of transition and change. This past summer saw the parting of ways with Rafa Benitez, the arrival and departure of Roy Hodgson and the return of King Kenny Dalglish.
The much despised and damaging George Gillett and Tom Hicks ownership era came to an inevitably disgraceful end with the club finding itself in the courts both in England and America. As the dust settled, New England Sports Venture headed by John Henry, took over the club and brought in future change.
Boardroom and backroom changes have seen the corporate side of Liverpool Football Club take on a whole new outlook.
In the midst of all this upheaval, a young Liverpool defender has begun to make the headlines.
Martin Kelly is the latest in a long line of Liverpool right backs that have aspired to become the best the club has ever seen. Having made his way through the Academy, Kelly certainly has the right background and with impressive recent performances, he may well go on to rack up the appearances.
So much Liverpool related media attention has been focused on whether Kelly should play on Liverpool's right side of defence or should it be Glen Johnson. Dalglish's first team sheet on his return to the helm of the Reds featured Kelly as his right back. Whether Johnson would have played there if he was not at his child's birth is neither here nor there, Kelly put in a performance that suggested Dalglish may stick with him.
Either these two may go on to become Liverpool legends at right back.
But who is the greatest ever right back of Liverpool Football Club?
The following is a list of Liverpool Football Club's Top 10 Right Backs Ever!
No. 10: Jason McAteer
Liverpool Debut : 16 September 1995
Liverpool Appearances : 139 and 6 goals.
Jason McAteer was a die-hard Liverpool fan, and when he signed for the Reds in 1995 it was a boyhood dream come true for the Birkenhead born Irishman.
He was one of the so-called 'Spice-Boys' of the Roy Evans era at Anfield and was primarly employed as a right wing back in Evans' 3-5-2 formation.
Not a true right back in the purest terms, but essentially an attacking one within the system Liverpool played at the time.
Known for his powerful and direct running and formidable fitness, McAteer was a regular starter from 1995 to 1997. He patrolled the right back and wing for Liverpool tirelessly and scored six times in the process.
Blessed with superb stamina, McAteer also possessed a sweet right foot and threw in wonderful balls from the right which Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler fed off profitably. Maybe not the best defending right back Liverpool has ever seen, but McAteer was certainly not a shy tackler and a better defender than many of his critics would give him credit for.
Jason McAteer has made is mark on the team he supported so loyally as a boy and served so well as player, and comes in at No.10 on Liverpool's all time best right backs.
No. 9 : Markus Babbel
Liverpool Debut : 19 August 2000
Liverpool Appearances : 73 and 6 goals
Markus Babbel would have gone on to represent the Reds in far more than the 73 games he played in and scored a few more goals to boot, were it not for a life-threatening virus that pretty much ended his playing career in 2002.
The German international made an instant impact on Merseyside in 2001. His first season for the Reds was the famous treble-winning one where he picked up winners medals in the FA, League and UEFA Cups.
But in the beginning of the following campaign Babbel began to suffer from chonric fatigue during matches and he was later diagnosed with the rare muscle wasting Guillan-Barre Syndrome. He was confined to a wheelchair and went back to his native Germany to recuperate, as he could not bear being around his fellow players.
Babbel's play was characterised by solid defending and surging forays down the right flank. His most famous goals were probably against Everton at Goodison in April 2001 and the opening goal in the UEFA Cup final of the same year in Dortmund against Alaves. Liverpool went on to lift the trophy in a thrilling match.
So much more could have been seen from Babbel was it not for his terrible medical predicament. However, in his relatively short time at Liverpool, the German made a big impact and makes it into the top ten best right backs to have played for the Reds.
No. 8 : Rob Jones
Liverpool Debut : 6 October 1991
Liverpool Appearances : 243 and no goals.
Rob Jones was a player of immense talent and amazing potential. When he burst on to the scene in the early 90s it was thought that Liverrpool and England had found a right back that would make the position his for years to come.
Jones was a Red through and through; His grandfather Bill Jones played for Liverpool from 1946 - '54 amassing 277 appearances for the Reds.
It was while playing for 4th Division Crewe Alexandra that Jones caught the eye of Liverpool scout Tom Saunders, who was actually there to view Crewe's right back. But when their then-left-back Jones shifted to right back in the second half, a Liverpool star was born.
48 hours later, Jones made his debut at right back for the Reds against a certain Ryan Giggs, who was the talk of the league. Jones, marked him out of the game and sealed one of the great Liverpool defensive debuts.
Five months later, Jones was pulling on the England shirt against France at Wembley. Later in the spring he won an FA Cup winners medal and was on the way to the 1992 European Championships.
But tragedy struck and the Liverpool star was struck down with shin splints. It was an injury that would go on to prematurely destroy his career.
Further injuries to his left knee meant further surgeries and by this time he was too long out of the first team and falling down the pecking order.
Rob Jones' footballing career came to a sad end at the age of only 27.
But in the short time that Jones spent at Anfield, he will go down as one of the best right backs to have pulled on a Reds shirt.
No. 7 : Tommy Lucas
Liverpool Debut : 13 September 1919
Liverpool Appearances : 366 and 3 goals.
Tommy Lucas played for the Reds for nearly 15 years between the World Wars. There were times that Lucas was not on the side, but he racked up a healthy number of appearances.
Playing football in those days was not an easy thing. Equipment, referees, pitches and many other facets of the modern game were simply not available in the days Lucas pulled on his Reds shirt.
He had fierce rivalry for what was then the No.2 shirt and after playing most of the 1921-22 season, he found that the following campaign he was not in favour at all.
However, he put his head down, won back his place and went on to make almost 200 appearances in the next half decade.
Once again in the 1928-29 season Lucas found himself on the sidelines, but again through sheer determination he again forced himself into the first team and played every game of the 1930-31 season.
For his simple perseverance, tenacity and appearances, Lucas makes it into the list of top right back to have played for Liverpool Football Club.
No. 6 : Ray Lambert
Liverpool Debut : 5 January 1946
Liverpool Appearances : 341 and 2 goals
Ray Lambert joined the Reds as an amateur at the tender age of 13 years and 189 days in January 1936, becoming the youngest player to join a league club.
But it was not until 1946 that Lambert was able to represent the Reds in a competitive fixture.
Lambert was consistent and reliable, a trait that is common amongst the best players in his position. For the next 10 years he played consistently, becoming a firm fan favourite.
He played in the first Liverpool team to win their first post-war championship and was also in the first ever Liverpool side to play in a Wembley FA Cup final in 1950.
Having played nearly 350 times for the Reds, Lambert retired from football at the age of 34 and is considered as one of the best right backs in Liverpool history.
No. 5: Ephraim Longworth
Liverpool Debut : 19 September 1910
Liverpool Appearances : 371 and no goals.
A name like Ephraim Longworth deserves to be in the list just for the name. But Longworth is one of the most consistent defenders to have ever played for the Reds in a career that lasted for 18 years.
If World War I had not interrupted his career, Longworth would have eclipsed 500 appearances with ease.
The composed and assured defender was the first Liverpool player to captain England—remarkably only playing for the national side on five occasions.
He played in the FA Cup of 1914 where the Reds lost 1-0 to Burnley while playing in front of King George V, but after the war, won the championship winning medals in 1922 and 1923.
Longworth never scored for the Reds in all his playing days and made his final appearance against Birmingham City on 21 April 1928, nearly 18 years since his debut at Bramall Lane.
After hanging up his playing boots, Longworth joined the coaching staff at Anfield. It is for his 371 appearances and the many more he would no doubt have gotten and captaining England, that he can be considered at the 5th best right back to play for Liverpool.
In 1968, Longworth died a Liverpool legend.
No. 4: Donald MacKinlay
Liverpool Debut : 20 April 1910
Liverpool Appearances : 434 and 34 goals
Donald MacKinlay was one of the longest serving players in Liverpool Football Club's history, but was hampered by the outbreak of World War 1.
MacKinlay's Liverpool career got off to a very slow start with only 70 odd appearances from his debut till WW1. But it was the post WW1 years that the Scot really shone for Liverpool.
He played in the disappointing loss to Burnley in the 1914 FA Cup final, but later went on to captain the side to successive league titles in 1922 and 1923.
MacKinlay's versatility allowed him to play in a number of positions in the back line, allowing him to score a commendable 34 goals in his career for Liverpool. However, it was at right back that he excelled when he established himself in the team.
It is for MacKinley's versatility, appearances and goal scoring that he finds a place at No.4.
No. 3: Steve Nicol
Liverpool Debut : 31 August 1982
Liverpool Appearances : 468 and 46 goals.
Steve Nicol would be in the Top 10 defenders to play in any position for Liverpool, so versatile a player was the Scot.
Brought to the club by Bob Paisley for £300,000 in 1981, he was signed to challenge Phil Neal at right back but Neal still had a few years left in him. However in 1986, Nicol made the right back berth his own under boss Joe Fagan.
But such was the ability of Nicol, he played as centre back, left back and in the midfield for the Reds. In his career, the Scot scored a remarkable 46 goals and this was more of a feat considering he was not a penalty taker. This after he missed in the shoot out in the 1984 European Cup final against Roma, but the Reds still went on to win.
In the 1987-88 season, Nicol scored seven goals in his first seven games and led the scoring charts for the Reds, these goals included a memorable hat-trick against Newcastle.
In the 1988-89 season Nicol was named the Football Writers Association Player of the Year, in a season where he played not only at right back, but in five other positions.
In his Liverpool career, the jovial and much liked Scot, won five League Championships, four Charity Shields, three FA Cups, the European and Super Cups.
Nicol was also known for having the biggest feet at Liverpool and in football, wearing size 11 boots.
Remaining a regular in a Red shirt till 1994-95 season, Nicol then left the Reds in January 1995, but still remains one of the longest serving players in Anfield history, with a career spanning 13 years.
Steve Nicol makes it to No.3 in the Reds all time greatest right backs and deservedly so for this Kop legend and hero.
No. 2: Chris Lawler
Liverpool Debut : 20 March 1963
Liverpool Appearances : 549 and 61goals
Nicknamed 'The Silent Knight', Chris Lawler is without doubt a Liverpool Football Club legend. Playing at right back for over eight years and scoring an astonishing 61 goals. This goal scoring achievement is all the more impressive when you consider that he was not even the designated penalty taker.
Lawler was a modern day marauding fullback playing in the mid 60s and early 70s.
A Red through and through, Lawler was a local lad who made his way through the junior ranks and Liverpool and turned pro on his 17th birthday.
It was under the guidance of the great Bill Shankly that he got his debut nearly three years later, but it was not until the end of the1964-65 season that Lawler become the first choice right back.
The Liverpool lad also had the honour of being in the first Liverpool team to ever win the FA Cup in 1965. Following this Lawler missed only three league games in the next 336, helping the Reds to the title and the Cup Winner's Cup Final in 1966 and the FA Cup again in 1971.
In the 1972-73 season Lawler nearly 30 years old played in every single game of Liverpool's 66, in four different competitions winning the title and the UEFA Cup.
Lawler's medal haul is impressive, with 3 League titles, 2 FA Cups, 1 UEFA Cup and 3 Charity Shields.
A Kop Hero without a doubt and the 2nd in Liverpool's all time best right backs.
No. 1: Phil Neal
Liverpool Debut : 16 November 1974
Liverpool Appearances : 650 and 59 goals.
How could Liverpool ever replace Chris Lawler at right back?
Bob Paisley's first buy after becoming manager at Anfield was to pay £66,000 to 4th division side Northampton Town for the then-unknown Phil Neal.
A month into his Liverpool career, Neal made his debut in the intense atmosphere of a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. From that game, he cemented his position and played in, a record, 365 consecutive league games between December 1974 and September 1983.
His attributes were his calmness under pressure and his effectiveness achieved with the minimum of fuss. Neal was a no nonsense fullback, who shunned the limelight and did everything for the Liverpool team.
The epitome of consistency, he made the art of defending a joy to watch with his efficient and uncompromising style, topped with the penalty taking prowess of a striker. Neal scored an amazing 50 goals, most of them penalties. His most famous spot kick was in the European Cup Final of 1977 against Borussia Moenchengladbach that won Liverpool the first of their five European Cups.
Neal scored a penalty in a European Cup Final, again at the Olympic Stadium in Rome against Roma, as well as an earlier goal from close range to earn him, and the Reds, their fourth triumph in the competition.
It was the emergence of Steve Nicol that finally ended Neal's Liverpool era in 1985. But what an era it was. To this day, the Englishman remains one of Liverpool's most decorated players ever, with an astonishing 23 pieces of silverware. He featured in four of the Reds' five European Cup victories and remains the most decorated English football player ever to play the game.
Neal's winners' medals include eight league titles, four European Cups, four League Cups, one UEFA Cup, 1 European Super Cup and 5 Charity Shields.
Phil Neal is without doubt a Liverpool legend, Kop Hero and the greatest ever right back in Liverpool Football Club's history.