Friday, June 15, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 17: Bruce Grobbelaar


Voted in at number 17 in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is the often eccentric but highly successful goalkeeper of the 1980's, Bruce Grobbelaar.
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: Bruce Grobbelaar

Years at Liverpool: 1981 to 1994
Position: Goalkeeper

Date-of-birth: 6/10/1957
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa

Signed from: Vancouver Whitecaps (March 1981)

Games: 627
Goals: 0

Honours: First Division Championship (1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90), European Cup (1984), FA Cup (1986, 1989, 1992), League Cup (1982, 1983, 1984), Charity Shield (1982, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990)

From handstands at Wembley to spaghetti legs in Rome, Brucie Grobbelaar was a complete one-off – an eccentric goalkeeper who would have you tearing your hair out in frustration one minute and jumping with joy the next. But a quick glance at his glittering medal collection is proof, if needed, of his status as a Reds legend, not to mention the fact that three of the greatest Liverpool managers of all-time – Paisley, Fagan and Dalglish – all rated him so highly. One of the most colourful characters to have ever played the game, not much was known about the rookie South African when Bob Paisley signed him from Vancouver Whitecaps in March 1981. He was brought in as back-up to Ray Clemence but when Clem surprisingly departed for Spurs that summer the Liverpool back-room team were left with no option other than to throw him in at the deep end. Following in such illustrious footsteps was always going to prove difficult and his early days between the Anfield sticks were marred by some of the most horrendous goalkeeping howlers we’ve had the misfortune to witness. While he impressed with his stunning agility and superb reflexes, Grobbelaar’s flamboyant, and sometimes erratic, style came in for severe criticism. Every mistake he made was highlighted, especially two that gifted Manchester City a rare Anfield victory on Boxing Day 1981. Opposition fans called him a clown and Evertonian's once presented him with a jester hat in recognition of his unflattering new moniker. However, it was the Liverpudlians who had the last laugh. His confidence was unflappable and he more than made up for his early misdemeanours during a glory-laden career. It is testimony to his terrific strength of character that he came through those difficult first few months in the Liverpool goal and although high-profile errors were never totally eradicated from his game – Sheffield Wednesday's Imre Varadi in 1984 and Everton's Kevin Ratcliffe two years later being two grateful beneficiaries – the good times far outweighed the bad during his 13 years as the Reds number one. Despite the brickbats that continually came his way, Grobbelaar proved himself an almost immovable object between the Anfield sticks and established himself as a firm favourite of those on the Kop. Several challengers tried but none succeeded in condemning Grobbelaar to a place outside the first team for long. His ability to pull off saves of the highest quality played a major role in Liverpool remaining at the forefront of the chase for honours throughout the eighties. His antics on the line in the 1984 European Cup Final penalty shoot-out against AS Roma will forever live in the memory, while his stunning ‘kangaroo leap’ save from Graeme Sharp in the 1986 FA Cup Final has since passed into legend. With Brucie in goal it seemed as though there was never a dull moment, even if he did sometimes hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. A former soldier in the Rhodesian army, he was not averse to picking fights but when he infamously lost his temper with his own team-mates – notably Jim Beglin and Steve McManaman in two high-profile derby matches - more than a few eyebrows were understandably raised. It was this enthusiasm and passion he displayed for the club that made the revelations which clouded his latter days as a Red all the more baffling. Thankfully, they weren't proved and the golden memories of an often controversial but always charismatic custodian remain untainted. Bruce Grobbelaar's style of goalkeeping may have been a little unorthodox but very few Liverpudlians will say they didn't enjoy watching him. He helped put the fun back into football and aided the almost incessant supply line of silverware into the Anfield trophy cabinet.

Sold to: Southampton (1994)

Claim to fame: Unnerving AS Roma's Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani in the ’84 penalty shoot-out in Rome

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