Saturday, June 16, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 16: Jan Molby


Voted in at number 16 in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is the great Dane Jan Molby.
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: Jan Molby

Years at Liverpool: 1984 to 1996
Position: Midfield

Date-of-birth: 4/7/1963
Birthplace: Kolding, Denmark

Signed from: Ajax (August 1984)

Games: 291
Goals: 62

Honours: First Division Championship (1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90), FA Cup (1986, 1992), Charity Shield (1986)

Liverpool’s ‘Greatest Dane’, big Jan Molby was an undisputed cult-hero among Kopites and one of the best passers of a ball to ever grace the fields of Anfield Road. His Liverpool career did not yield the treasure trove of honours it should have done and was often dogged in controversy but the fans loved him and he loved them back. Signed by Joe Fagan from Ajax on the eve of the 1983/84 season, Molby’s first year in a red shirt gave little indication of what was in store. As Liverpool struggled in the wake of losing Graeme Souness to Sampdoria, Molby found it hard to adapt to the faster pace of life in the English top-flight. His hefty frame and sluggish movement meant he hardly set the place alight and critics doubted the wisdom of Fagan’s £225,000 purchase. Off the field, however, he was settling in nicely and famously developed an accent that was more Kirkdale than his native Kolding – an attribute that quickly endeared him to the locals. The turning point for Molby was the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as player/manager during the summer of 1985. Dalglish, who was to later hail the Denmark international as ‘one of the finest midfielders of his generation’ had the utmost faith in him and was rewarded with a succession of vintage performances during the momentous double-winning campaign that followed. A new slimmer-looking Molby responded to a prolonged run in the team by displaying the visionary passing, subtle touches and general midfield power play that the Reds had been sadly lacking. It was no coincidence that his much-improved form resulted in an upturn in Liverpool’s fortunes and he became a pivotal figure in the side, supplying many a perfect through ball for the ever grateful Ian Rush and chipping in with a fair share of vital goals himself. A tremendous set-piece exponent, Molby holds the club record for most spot-kick conversions (42) and famously netted from 12-yards out to keep the Reds FA Cup dream alive in a tense quarter-final replay away to Watford that season. With power and precision in his shooting he could be lethal when faced with a gaping goal and was equally capable of hitting the net from further out, usually in spectacular fashion. This was never more evident than at Anfield on a November night in 1985 when he struck one of the greatest goals of all-time - a belting long-range strike that whistled into the top corner of the Kop net past a hapless Gary Bailey in a memorable Milk Cup tie against arch-rivals Manchester United. Unfortunately, a television strike at the time has denied us the pleasure of seeing this goal over and over again but there was many more in the Molby locker, with a rasping effort against Norwich and a sweetly struck free-kick versus Ipswich springing instantly to mind. His imposing physique earned him the nickname 'Rambo' and as the proud owner of a League Championship and FA Cup medal he was seemingly at the peak of his game as the 86/87 season approached. A glorious future in red beckoned. Unfortunately, a broken foot, a spell in defence and three months behind bars for driving offences was to restrict his influence over the following three years. The time spent in prison, while bringing him unwanted bad press, added to his increasing iconic status among the supporters who welcomed him back to the fold enthusiastically. Shortly after his release, a much trimmer Molby then began to show signs of recapturing the dominant form of ’86. He was part of the side that won the FA Cup again in 1992 but, while his ability with a ball at his feet were never questioned - he continued to spray wonderfully measured long and short passes around the pitch - persistent spells on the treatment table and weight problems gradually reduced his effectiveness. During the course of his 12-year Anfield career he twice came close to leaving the club, for Barcelona and Everton respectively, but his dedication to the Liverpool cause was never doubted and in 1994 he was deservedly honoured with a testimonial game. One of English’s football’s most successful foreign players, Jan Molby was eventually released two years later to take up a player/manager role with Swansea and he left with the best wishes of everyone who’d been fortunate enough to witness his unique and sublime talents at their peak. Denmark’s finest export since Carlsberg? There’s no ‘probably’ about it. He was.

Sold to: Swansea City (1996)

Claim to fame: Being Liverpool’s all-time leading penalty scorer

No comments: