Saturday, June 23, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 11: Ray Clemence


Voted in at number 11 in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is the man widely regarded as the greatest goalkeeper in Liverpool history, Ray Clemence.
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 Clemence

Years at Liverpool: 1967 to 1981
Position: Goalkeeper

Date-of-birth: 5/8/1948
Birthplace: Skegness

Signed from: Scunthorpe United (June 1967)

Games: 665
Clean Sheets: 323

Honours: First Division Championship (1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79, 1979/80), European Cup (1977, 1978, 1981), FA Cup (1974), UEFA Cup (1973, 1976), League Cup (1981), Charity Shield (1974, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980), Super Cup (1977)

Rated by many as THE greatest Liverpool goalkeeper of all-time, Ray Clemence was undoubtedly the finest stopper in Europe during the seventies and one of the key factors in the Reds unstoppable march to glory during a success-strewn Anfield decade. An unflappable, reassuring presence between the sticks, Clem possessed the safest hands in the game and inspired confidence in those around him. In his vivid green jersey he became an Anfield institution and will go down as one of the shrewdest transfer bargains in football history. Signed from Scunthorpe for £18,000 during the summer of 1967, he served his Anfield apprenticeship in the Central League before replacing Tommy Lawrence in goal on a permanent basis during the 1969/70 campaign. He quickly impressed and his fine progress was rewarded in 1972 when he was called up to the full England squad for the first time. The previous year he played in the FA Cup Final defeat against Arsenal but honours soon came his way and he was to become one of the most decorated keepers in the game. Life as Liverpool's last line of defence during this era could be a lonely existence and one of Clemence's most valuable assets was his concentration. While his team-mates relentlessly battered their opponents into submission at the opposite end of the pitch, he could have been forgiven for temporarily taking his eye off the ball and letting his mind wander. But that is one accusation which could never be levelled at him. On occasions he would maybe only be called upon once or twice during the course of 90 minutes but the stunning save he'd then pull off would prove just as priceless as the goals scored by his more famous colleagues. Equally vital components of Clemence's game were his sense of anticipation, positional awareness and lightening quick reactions. The successful UEFA Cup campaigns of 1972/73 and 1975/76 provided two notable examples of Clemence at his best, as he denied the penalty takers of Borussia Moenchengladbach and Dynamo Dresden, respectively, with exceptional full-length diving saves. Many an English First Division forward also saw their goalscoring hopes flounder when coming face to face with Liverpool's ace custodian, while his crucial stop from Uli Stielike in Rome '77 proved to be the turning point of a momentous first European Cup Final. With Clem in goal, errors were rarer than a Reds defeat, clean sheets became a common occurrence and defensive records tumbled as a result. Having helped Paisley's Liverpool conquer Europe, he was largely responsible for taking their domination of the domestic scene to unprecedented heights in 1978/79, conceding a mere 16 goals from a 42-match league programme. That season saw Clemence, undoubtedly, at the peak of his game but still he found himself embroiled in a long-running battle with Peter Shilton for the number one shirt at international level. His cause was forever championed by those on the Kop who were privileged to watch his expertise at close quarters but they were as shocked as anyone when Clemence announced he was to leave the club for Tottenham on the eve of the 81/82 season. His last act in a Liverpool shirt was to shut-out the Real Madrid attack in Paris as a third European Cup triumph was secured and, on reflection, for a player who served the club with such distinction it was only fitting that he bowed out at the top. During his eleven years in the first team he missed just six league matches, won every major honour in the game apart from the European Cup Winners Cup and displayed a high level of consistency that no Reds' keeper has since been able to match. A popular figure on and off the field, debate will forever rage as to whether Clemence was the greatest but statistics certainly back up the argument. Based on his ratio of goals conceded per game and number of clean sheets kept per game, he has no equal between the Anfield sticks. Think of Ray Clemence in the Liverpool goal and a multitude of superlatives spring to mind that are best summed up by just two simple words - goalkeeping excellence.

Sold to: Tottenham Hotspur (August 1981)

Claim to fame: Conceding only 16 league goals in the 78/79 season

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