As Liverpool gear up for the 2016 Europa League final, Jurgen Klopp’s squad are following in the footsteps of a wealth of Anfield legends who have brought European glory to Merseyside for over 40 years.
We look back at five former Reds who’ve made a sensational impact in building Liverpool’s legacy as English football’s most sensational side on the continent.
Kenny Dalglish (1977-1990)
Filling the role of Anfield favourite Kevin Keegan was quite an ask for 26-year-old Dalglish when he arrived on Merseyside. But while he couldn’t match his predecessor’s wonderfully coiffed perm, the Scotsman’s impact for his new employers was instant and dramatic.
The former Celtic forward scored twice en route to the 1978 European Cup final, before netting an impudent lob over Club Brugge keeper Birger Jensen, to seal victory and deliver a second successive European crown to the red half of Merseyside.
He struck again in the knockouts as the club won the tournament for the third and fourth time in 1981 and 1983, before going on to manage the club. One expects he’s never had to buy a pint in the city since.
Alan Kennedy (1978-1986)
He may not be a name familiar to many present-day fans, but during Liverpool’s 1980s heyday, dependable left-back Kennedy proved himself to be the epitome of a ‘big game player’.
Never renowned for his goalscoring prowess, the man signed from Newcastle United by Bob Paisley broke rank to burst forward and score the only goal of the 1983 European Cup final victory against Real Madrid, with a superb finish.
Three years later, it was Kennedy’s winning penalty which gave Joe Fagan’s Reds their fourth European Cup triumph as they beat highly-rated Roma in the final.
Jerzy Dudek (2001-2007)
The Polish stopper emulated Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs in the 2005 Champions League shoot-out, but it was his safe hands which brought joy to the Liverpool fans at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.
En route to the final, Dudek kept five clean sheets – against Grazer AK, Monaco, Juventus, and then twice against Chelsea in the semi-finals.
And Dudek, who retains cult hero status on the Kop, discussed the joy of winning European honours, yesterday. “To win [a European] trophy changes your life completely”, Dudek said. “But Liverpool needs new legends.”
Whose name is written in the stars for the Anfield side tomorrow?
Luis Garcia (2004-2007)
He may not have scored in the 2005 Champions League final, but make no mistake about it – without Garcia, Liverpool would never have reached Istanbul.
The Spanish wing wizard scored five times in the knockout stages to drag Rafael Benitez’s men into the final. His ‘ghost goal’ against Chelsea in the semi-final has proved an enduring source of controversy. However, the sensational half-volley which beat Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon, and three goals against Bayer Leverkusen should not be overlooked.
The former Barcelona man also struck three times en route to the 2007 Champions League final in Athens. Liverpool may have lost that day, but his European legacy remains impressive.
Steven Gerrard (1998-2015)
Nobody has symbolised Liverpool FC in the modern era more than Gerrard. A fearless competitor with a knack for the spectacular, the Merseyside-born midfield maestro enjoyed his finest hour as the Reds defeated AC Milan on penalties after a 3-3 draw, in the 2005 Champions League final.
However, as well as scoring the first goal in that famous final comeback, Liverpool’s legendary captain scored the crucial third to eliminate Olympiakos in the group stage and secure the Anfield club’s passage into the last 16 of the tournament.
Oh, and there’s the small matter of scoring in the 5-4 UEFA Cup final victory over Alaves in 2001. Not too shabby.
Liverpool are 7/5 to win tomorrow night’s Europa League final in 90 minutes, with Sevilla 11/5 and 22/10 for the sides to be deadlocked
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