Sunday, June 24, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 10: Emlyn Hughes

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The first player to be unveiled in the top ten of our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' countdown is inspirational skipper of the all-conquering mid-seventies team, Emlyn Hughes.
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: Emlyn Hughes

Years at Liverpool: 1967 to 1979
Position: Midfielder/Defender

Date-of-birth: 28/8/1947
Birthplace: Barrow-in-Furness

Signed from: Blackpool (February 1967)

Games: 665
Goals: 49

Honours: First Division Championship (1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79), European Cup (1977, 1978), FA Cup (1974), UEFA Cup (1973, 1976), Charity Shield (1974, 1976, 1977), Super Cup (1977)

With his heart on his sleeve and a beaming smile on his face Emlyn Hughes played the game how it should be played and remains an iconic figure of a glorious era.

The mere mention of his name rekindles a host of magical memories - Wembley '74, Molineux '76 and Rome '77, titles, trophies and triumphs. At Anfield he'll forever be remembered as one of our greatest ever players and most successful captains.

Those lucky enough to see have seen 'Crazy Horse' play will recall his boundless enthusiasm, never-say-die commitment to the cause and unrelenting passion for the club whenever he had the liver bird close to his chest.

Then there was his wild galloping forays into opposition territory and, on occasions, frantic goal celebrations after one of his exocets had crashed into the back of the net. Who can forget his much-celebrated double strike at Goodison in '73?

Younger fans will know him more as a captain on the long-running BBC quiz show 'A Question of Sport'. With his V-neck woollen jumpers and squeaky voice he became a national institution. But it was as skipper of the Redmen for which he'll always be best remembered.

Signed as a 19-year old from Blackpool in February 1967, after making just 31 appearances for the Seasiders, Emlyn was destined for the top from day one. Shanks was so impressed with the exciting potential or the raw youngster, legend has it that on driving his new £65,000 signing back to Liverpool after completing negotiations with Blackpool Bill Shankly told a policeman: "Don't you know who is in this car? There sits the future captain of England."

Laugh, some might have done, but Shanks was right and Hughes went on to skipper both club and country with distinction. Bought initially as a replacement for the ageing Willie Stevenson, the fresh-faced youngster was plunged immediately into the first team at left-back for the home game against Stoke. The Reds triumphed 2-1 and what would be a glorious Anfield career was born.

His energetic performances quickly endeared him to the fans on the Kop and as Shankly began to slowly dismantle his first great Liverpool team, Hughes established himself as a first team regular. Now operating in midfield his dynamic performances brought him England recognition, while Leeds made a cheeky attempt to lure him away from Anfield by offering the Reds Peter Lorimer in a part-exchange deal.

Whether it was at left-back, in midfield or at the heart of defence, where he eventually settled, Hughes could be relied upon to run through brick walls for the Liverpool cause. A born winner who took defeat personally, the pain etched on his face when sitting slumped in the dressing room at Highbury after Liverpool had narrowly missed out on the championship in 1972 said more than words ever could. Equally so, did the grin on his face when holding aloft the many trophies that would soon come his and Liverpool's way.

A virtual ever-present during the memorable 1972/73 season, in which an unprecedented Championship and UEFA Cup double was won, Hughes was handed a huge personal accolade on the eve of the following campaign when he was named club captain in succession to Tommy Smith, although it was a move that was to signal the beginning of a long-running feud between the pair.

It was also around this time that Hughes moved into the centre of defence on a permanent basis as Shanks made an inspired tactical change to Liverpool's style. Gone were the days of the old defensive stopper and the Reds now began to play football from the back. It was a switch that was to reap rich dividends. Emlyn caped his first full season as skipper by proudly holding aloft the FA Cup at Wembley and another League/UEFA Cup double followed two seasons later.

The inspirational Shanks had gone but with Hughes revelling in his new found responsibility greater glory lay on the horizon. 1977 was to be Emlyn's finest year and for a self-confessed royalist it was fitting that it should come in the year of the Queen's jubilee.

Another championship medal came his way, as did the personal accolade of Footballer of the Year, but all that was topped on a balmy night in Rome when the European Cup was won by Liverpool for the first time. As captain Hughes had the honour of lifting the greatest prize in club football on the Reds' behalf and twelve months later he found himself creating more history when doing exactly the same again as Liverpool became the first British side to retain the trophy following a 1-0 victory over Bruges at Wembley.

His loyalty at Anfield was rewarded with a testimonial in 1979 but a knee injury, coupled with the emergence of a young centre back by the name of Alan Hansen, contrived to bring the curtain down on one of the most illustrious Liverpool careers.

He played the last of his 665 games for the Reds in the forgettable FA Cup semi-final replay defeat against Manchester United at Goodison and a £90,000 transfer to Wolves soon followed.

At Molineux he finally got his hands on the one trophy that eluded him on Merseyside, the League Cup, before entering management. He always spoke of his dream to one day return to Anfield as manager but after failing to set the world alight in the managerial hot-seats of Rotherham, Hull, Mansfield and Swansea he forgot about that particular ambition and pursued a career in television and then public relations.

Sadly, Emlyn's popularity on Merseyside after leaving the club was not what it should have been. It's no secret that he alienated himself from some of his former team-mates towards the latter part of his Anfield career, while an ill-timed jibe at our neighbours from across the park at the victorious 1977 homecoming celebrations and an annoying habit of taking public swipes at the club unfortunately tarnished his image further in the minds of some.

But there can be no denying Emlyn Hughes his status as a Liverpool legend. When the tragic news of his premature death was announced in November 2004 Kopites mourned his passing with tears and tributes, proof that his heroic deeds in a red shirt had never been forgotten. Old Crazy Horse will never walk alone.

Sold to: Wolverhampton Wanderers (August 1979)

Claim to fame: Being the first Liverpool captain to hold aloft the European Cup

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