Throwback Thursday is upon us again and with it comes another one of Sideline View’s legend profiles. This weeks legend of choice is King Kenny Dalglish.
Dalglish began playing football in primary school, and it may surprise many to know that he started off as a goalkeeper before eventually realising his talent as an outfield player. His youth career would prove to be a good one and he attracted interest in a number of clubs including West Ham and Liverpool, where he had unsuccessful trials.
They’re loss would be Celtic’s gain as in May 1967, the same month the Glasgow Giants became European Champions, they signed a young Kenny Dalglish to a provisional contract.
Dalglish was born in the east end of Glasgow and lived in Govan, very close to Ibrox, the home of Celtic’s rivals Rangers, so Kenny would support Rangers growing up. However after hearing then Celtic assistant manager Sean Fallon at his parent’s door one day, Dalglish ran up the stairs and ripped the Rangers posters down from his bedroom wall.
His first season at the club was in 1967-68 which was just after Celtic became the first ever treble winners (Domestic League, Domestic Cup, European Cup) in the history of football, so as you could image it would be a tough team for anyone to break into. So Celtic loaned Kenny out to Cumbernauld United, and he thrived, scoring 38 goals in one season.
Upon his return to Celtic, Dalglish would become a member of the highly rated Celtic reserve team. A team so talented that it would be later referred to as the “Quality Street Gang”, many of whom went onto to play for Celtic and Scotland, including Lou Macrai, David Hay and Danny McGrain.
However things did begin to slow down for Dalglish, he only scored four times in 17 games for the Quality Street Gang, and had failed to score in an opportunity in a cup game for the first team, where he made a substitute appearance. The following season he would find himself pushed back into midfield, where to his credit he did flourish. Jock Stein gave Dalglish an opportunity in a league game, again not finding the back of the net, in fact he didn’t score in the following three games he played in the 1969-70 season, meaning one of the most talented goal scorers in the clubs history didn’t manage a single goal in his first five appearances for Celtic.
His reserve form was incredible though. From midfield he scored 19 from 31 games, in 69-70 and the following year 70-71 he scored 23 goals. Despite a few appearences, it wouldn’t be until the 1971-72 season that Dalglish would establish himself a first team regular at Celtic Park. He made 53 first team appearances that year and scored 29 goals.
Not only did Dalglish clinch 9-in-a-row with Celtic in 1974, he was also a key part of the sides European run, which ended in defeat to Atletico Madrid in the semi finals. The tie is infamous among Celtic fans for it’s competitive nature, Kenny himself described the game as “without doubt the worst game I have ever played in as far as violence is concerned.”
The boyhood Rangers fan would become the Celtic captain in 1975, which happened to be the first season in 12 that Celtic wouldn’t win a title.
His Celtic career would come to an end in 1977 when he made a then British transfer fee record move to Liverpool for £440,000. A lot of money back then especially considering they once turned the player away as a trialst.
He was signed as a replacement for Kevin Keegan and would without doubt justify the money paid for him, as Kenny would become a favourite to the kop-end faithful.
In Dalglish’s first season with Liverpool he scored 31 goals. That the 31st was the most important, it was the winner in the 1978 European Cup final, at Wembley, where the Anfield side beat Bruges from Belgium.
His goal scoring talent was clear and King Kenny would become a star player in an impressive Liverpool side which where highly successful.
As a player Dalglish would win five league titles
, and three European Cups.
He did have more success but it came as a player-manager as Kenny became the manager of Liverpool in 1985. He didn’t include himself in starting 11’s quite as frequently as previous managers Joe Fagan and Bob Paisley, and would try and put more of an emphasis on youth. Despite that he would still remain a member of the playing squad until 1990, by which time he was 39 and one of the oldest players in Liverpool history.
As player manager, Kenny would win three league titles, and two FA Cups. He didn’t win a European Cup as a manager like he did three times as a player, this was because Liverpool where banned from the competition for six years following the Heysel Stadium Disaster, and Kenny had left his position as manager before Liverpool could play in the competition again.
He wasn’t done as a manager, and would become the boss at Blackburn Rovers in the 1991-92 season, and that very season got promotion to the top flight via the Second Division play off. Three years later Dalglish would write one of the biggest underdog stories in football history as he led Blackburn to the Premier League title, with the fantastic Shearer and Sutton, strike force.
He had a tenure as manager of Newcastle before temporarily taking over as Celtic manager in 2000, where he would win the 2000 League Cup.
His managerial career would end in 2012 after being sacked by Liverpool, despite winning the club their first competition in six years.
When we reflect on the career of Kenny Dalglish the success is evident, through his goal scoring tally and the competition’s he won, maybe not so evident was his overall ability and effect on a team, but Liverpool’s legendary manager Bob Paisley would give an excellent quote to show just how impactful he was. “His genius is not only in his own ability but in making others play.”
Paisley would also give an amazing testimony to the talent of King Kenny, “Of all the players I have played alongside, managed and coached in more than 40 years at Anfield, he is the most talented.”