Liverpool Legends: Ian Callaghan

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Liverpool Legends: Ian Callaghan

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 Liverpool legend was an important cog in the great teams of both Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. A servant to the Reds for 18 years, he is Ian Callaghan.

Callaghan joined Liverpool on March 28, 1960 as an apprentice. Just a few weeks later, on April 16 he made his debut, helping Liverpool to a 4-0 demolition of Blackburn Rovers.

At the time of his arrival, Liverpool were languishing down in the Second Division, and had been for the best part of a decade. Just one year previously, however, Bill Shankly arrived at the club, and Callaghan could not have chosen a better man to be tutored by.

Callaghan quickly became a regular for the first-team, despite still being in his teens, and, after a number of near misses, he helped Liverpool to gain promotion to the First Division in 1962.

The challenge for the next season was to avoid relegation, and they did so in emphatic fashion, finishing eighth. The season after this, however, was even more surprising and even more emphatic, as the relative newcomers Liverpool stormed to the league title.

Ian Callaghan played a major part in this title winning side, playing every league game and scoring some vital goals. His pin-point crosses from the right-wing position he had made his own provided countless more goals.

More success followed in the next season, although Liverpool's league form deteriorated, meaning they only finished seventh that year. The success came in the FA Cup, a trophy Liverpool were yet to win in the 20th century.

After a typically tough game against Leeds, the score was 1-1 with ten minutes left of extra-time, when Callaghan galloped down the wing and put in an inch-perfect cross for Ian St. John to head home.

Another league title, Callaghan's third in his time at Liverpool, arrived the following season, but this time a cup final left a bad taste in the mouth, as Liverpool lost to Borussia Dortmund in the Cup Winners Cup final, shattering th dreams of a European trophy to take home.

As Shankly's Liverpool team started to age and tire, he set about rebuilding. Callaghan was one of few to stay among Shankly's first choice, and was then regarded as a figure of experience for the new, younger side Shankly was crafting.

Between the league success in 1965 and 1973, Liverpool struggled in competitions while the rebuilding was in progress, spending those eight years trophyless. They did, however, reach the FA Cup final in 1971, only to be beaten by Arsenal.

In typical fashion, Liverpool and Callaghan, now playing in a more central role, waited ages for a trophy, and then two came along at once as Liverpool ended the 1972-73 season with a league and UEFA Cup double.

It was Shankly's first, and ultimately only European trophy won, but Callaghan would go on to have more success.

1974 was a year of mixed emotions for Cally, as he helped Liverpool to another FA Cup triumph, winning the Football Writers Player of the Year award and being awarded an MBE along the way, but he also experienced the shocking retirement of his long-time mentor Bill Shankly.

Shankly may have gone, but the trophies hadn't dried up as Bob Paisley took over. Callaghan, despite being in his mid-30s was still an important member of the team, helping Liverpool to another league and UEFA Cup double in 1976, playing in every European game and only missing two league matches.

Another league and European Cup double followed swiftly as Callaghan displayed his incredible fitness even at 35 by playing a key part in their league success, appearing in the unsuccessful FA Cup final, and starting the European Cup final, which Liverpool won 3-1.

The next season proved to be his last at Anfield, but he still didn't show signs of slowing down. He played 41 matches that season, helping Liverpool to a second consecutive European Cup, and to reach the club's first ever League Cup final, which they lost.

He left the club that autumn, but will forever be remembered for his longevity and loyalty. He is the only Liverpool player to have been playing for the club when they were playing in the Second Division and when they won the European Cup.

His appearance record of 856, including 69 goals, is unlikely to be beaten any time soon.

Ian Callaghan—the Liverpool Legend!

 

Click here to see more Liverpool Legends!

 

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