Liverpool Legends: Ian Rush

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Liverpool Legends: Ian Rush

Barney Corkhill continues to take a look at the illustrious history of the most successful club in English football. In this series, the greatest players from Liverpool's history will be looked at.

Most of them are fan favourites, and most were hugely talented, but all of them are Liverpool Legends.

I should stress that in these articles, I will only focus on their career while at Liverpool.

Today's legend is perhaps the greatest goal-scorer in Liverpool history, no easy feat considering the long list of great strikers the club has had, and the man who spearheaded the Liverpool attack for 15 years in two spells at the club—Ian Rush.

In April of 1980, an 18-year-old Chester youngster was bought by the great Bob Paisley. The fee was £300,000, a record for a teenager back then, but it turned out to be one of the buys of the century.

He made his Liverpool debut on the December 13th, 1980, against Ipswich, in a match that ended in a 1-1 draw.

His performance was solid, and speculation whether this teenager was good enough to cut it with the big boys of Liverpool were to be emphatically answered.

Firstly, however, he had to learn "The Liverpool Way" of playing, which meant he spent most of his first season in the reserves, despite his obvious talent.

Rush's first senior goal for the club came almost a year after his debut, on 30 September, 1981. It was the start of something special.

Rush finally got his chance for an extended run in the first team in that season, and he took full advantage. His 30 goals in 49 appearances was more than anyone else at Liverpool as he helped them to the First Division title.

Two years later, Rush was on the best form of his career so far as he scored 31 goals, including 24 in the league (four came in one match against bitter rivals Everton), as he helped Liverpool to another league title and a League Cup.

On an individual level, he was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award.

That season saw the departure of Paisley, and the arrival of Joe Fagan. Fagan led Liverpool to an unprecedented treble in his first season in charge, retaining both the league and League Cup, and giving Rush his first European Cup success.

Rush's 47 goals in all competitions that season led to him being named the PFA Player of the Year, one year after being named the Young Player of the Year, and the Football Writers Footballer of the Year, in addition to winning the European Golden Boot.

The following season saw the Heysel disaster overshadow another European Cup final for Rush, and they finished as runners-up in the league, the first trophy-less season Rush had experienced in the red of Liverpool.

The year after this, however, the silverware came flowing back as Kenny Dalglish, with whom Rush had formed a formidable partnership, became player-manager. Liverpool won the league, and then beat Everton in the FA Cup final, with Rush scoring twice and being named Man of the Match.

In 1987, after scoring 207 goals in 331 games, Rush left Anfield to join Italian side Juventus, much to the dismay of Liverpool fans everywhere.

After just one unsuccessful year in Italy, however, Ian Rush came back to Liverpool, this time to the sheer delight of Liverpool fans. He was still a hero to them.

But he wasn't guaranteed a starting place, as Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge were on fine form, keeping him out of the side.

His first season back in Liverpool was one of mixed emotions. He had the unenviable experience of witnessing the Hillsborough disaster first hand, but also helped Liverpool fans through the tough spell with two goals again against Everton in the FA Cup final.

Little consolation for the 96 fans, admittedly, but something to smile about amongst the tears being shed on Merseyside.

The following season, Liverpool won the league title again, dedicating it to all the victims of the tragedy.

It would be Rush's last league title with Liverpool, but not his last trophy. He was part of the FA Cup winning side of 1992, and the League Cup winners of 1995.

His last appearance in a Liverpool shirt came the following year as Liverpool reached another FA Cup final, only to lose to a late Eric Cantona goal.

On May 20th, 1996, Ian Rush signed for Leeds United, ending his long and successful career with Liverpool, during which time he scored 346 goals in 660 matches for the club.

That total is the highest in Liverpool's history, and his 229 league goals are third in the all-time list. His 44 FA Cup goals is a record for the modern era (Henry Cursham scored 49 between 1877 and 1888).

No-one has scored more FA Cup final goals (5), League Cup goals (49), Wales goals (28 in 78 caps), or Merseyside derby goals (25 against Everton).

He was also the first player to get five League Cup winners medals.

Ian Rush - The Liverpool Legend!

 

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