Monday, May 28, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 28: Ray Kennedy


At number 28 in our ’100 Players Who Shook The Kop’ countdown is one of the most gifted left-sided midfield players of all-time, Ray Kennedy.
Four years after our ground-breaking '100 Days That Shook The Kop', we are delighted to invite you to enjoy our new '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series – the definitive countdown of the 100 players who have made the biggest impact at Liverpool.

Over 110,000 supporters have all nominated their own personal Top 10 players in order of impact made and now the definitive top 100 countdown is underway.

Every player who has made the top 100 – and there are some surprises in there - will be honoured on this website via the e-Season ticket console with a specially produced video clip, including archive footage and exclusive interviews.

Since 1892 hundreds of players have represented this club but everyone has their own particular favourites so don't expect this list to be based solely on talent. The greatness of a player can be measured in many ways – obviously, his ability on the pitch is the most important, but 100 PWSTK is much more than that. It's about the impact the individuals chosen have had on this club, be it for a variety of reasons. Maybe it was because of their unique rapport with the crowd, a specific incident that has never been forgotten or anything else that has left a lasting impression.

Name: Ray Kennedy

Years at Liverpool: 1974 to 1982
Position: Midfield

Date-of-birth: 28/7/1951
Birthplace: Seaton Delaval

Signed from: Arsenal (July 1974)

Games: 393
Goals: 72

Honours: First Division Championship (1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82), European Cup (1977, 1978, 1981), UEFA Cup (1976), League Cup (1981), Super Cup (1977), Charity Shield (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980)

It's testimony to the supreme ability of Ray Kennedy that of all the great players to have graced the red shirt during the Anfield managerial reign of Bob Paisley none attracted more transfer enquiries from rival clubs than him. An immensely gifted, if slightly unsung, left-sided midfielder, Kennedy's role in Liverpool's domination of the domestic and European scene during the late seventies was priceless. His arrival on Merseyside, for a then club record fee of £180,000 during the summer of 1974, had gone almost unnoticed amid the sensational resignation of Bill Shankly on the same day and his early days in a red shirt were hardly anything to write home about. Originally a striker who had won the League and Cup double with Arsenal in 1971, the burly north easterner was being written off as a has-been at the age of just 23 and his critics questioned the wisdom of Shankly's final acquisition. It was hoped the move would resurrect a once potentially glittering career but Kennedy's cause wasn't helped by the fact that he initially struggled to make any real impact in the Liverpool forward line. That was until a tactical masterstroke by Paisley brought about a remarkable transformation in his fortunes. Had it not been for a thigh injury, he may even have joined Wolves in 1975 but after Paisley consulted an old friend back in the North East, a decision was taken to play him in midfield and he never looked back. Powerful, skilful and with the ability to find the back of the net, Kennedy suddenly became a pivotal figure as Liverpool plotted to conquer the continent. It was his visionary pass that set up David Fairclough's legendary winner against St Etienne in 1977 and his lethal left peg that secured a place in the 1981 European Cup Final at the expense of Bayern Munich. A glittering array of medals came his way and, as his reputation within the game soared once again, so too did fully deserved international recognition. Beneath his silky skills and graceful play, however, lay a fiery temperament. He may not have come across as the archetypal hard man on the pitch, but with the build of a heavyweight boxer Kennedy could certainly pack a punch. He was renowned among his team-mates for having a short fuse and it was not advisable to get on the wrong side of him. Villa's Allan Evans and Arsenal's Peter Nicholas were just two opposing players who foolishly did so, while training ground bust-ups and off-the-field scrapes were also not uncommon during the course of his Anfield career. Following the emergence of a young Ronnie Whelan in the early eighties, Kennedy was no longer guaranteed his number five shirt and after close friend Jimmy Case was sold to Brighton he asked for a transfer. He moved to Swansea and then Hartlepool before briefly coaching at Sunderland but the debilitating symptoms of Parkinson's disease - a brain disorder that occurs when certain nerve cells die or become impaired - were beginning to take hold and he was soon forced to retire. The plight of Ray Kennedy has touched the hearts of every Liverpudlian who, like his former manager Bob Paisley, remember him as one of this club's greatest ever players.

Sold to: Swansea City (January 1982)

Claim to fame: Scoring the goal that booked Liverpool's place in the 1981 European Cup Final

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