Tuesday, June 26, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 9: Graeme Souness


Voted in at number nine in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is renowned midfield hard-man and one of Liverpool's greatest ever captains, Graeme Souness.
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: Graeme Souness

Years at Liverpool: 1978 to 1984
Position: Midfield

Date-of-birth: 6/5/1953
Birthplace: Edinburgh

Signed from: Middlesbrough (January 1978)

Games: 359
Goals: 56

Honours: First Division Championship (1978/79, 1979/80, 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84), European Cup (1978, 1981, 1984), League Cup (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984), Charity Shield (1979, 1980, 1982)

Forget his turbulent tenure in the Anfield hot-seat and remember Graeme Souness for his majestic midfield performances in the famous Red shirt during the most dominant period of success in the club's history.

Whatever sins he committed as Reds boss – and he has since apologised for them anyway – they should never be used to taint the wonderful memories he left behind as a player.

An awesome midfield enforcer, Souness was a renowned hard-man who possessed a subtle touch. Once described as 'a bear of a player with the delicacy of a violinist', he was the general who dictated much of Liverpool's play throughout a glorious six year career in front of the Kop.

A native of Edinburgh, Souey first shot to prominence as a young player of immense potential under the tutelage of the great Bill Nicholson at Tottenham but made just one senior appearance for Spurs before moving to Middlesbrough in 1973.

His precocious talent blossomed on Teeside and his services were soon reportedly being courted by many top clubs of the time. That was the cue for Bob Paisley to swoop and it took a record fee between two English teams to secure his services. It was a wise move and was to prove money well spent.

The impact was immediate. On his debut at West Brom, he hinted at what was to come by not mis-placing a pass, then on only his second home appearance he burst the back of Paddy Roach's net at the Anfield Road End with one of the finest first-time strikes you are ever likely to see as Manchester United were beaten 3-1 on a wet February afternoon.

Souness quickly became a regular, replacing the ageing Ian Callaghan and come the end of his first season at the club was celebrating a European Cup victory - his precision pass paving the way for Kenny Dalglish's winning goal at Wembley against FC Bruges.

The influence he exerted on the team grew with each passing season, as did his medal collection. As part of arguably the best midfield quartet in Liverpool history, Souness prospered and reaped the rewards. Titles and trophies came his way and in January 1982 so too did the honour of skippering the Reds

It was in the wake of a dismal Boxing Day defeat at home to Manchester City that Liverpool slumped to 12th in the table and Paisley shook things up by asking Souness to take possession of the armband from Phil Thompson. The tough Scot duly accepted and five months later the Championship pennant was once again flying high outside Anfield, while the Milk Cup sat comfortably on the inside.

Away from the game, his liking for the good things in life, including the odd glass of bubbly, earned Souness the soubriquet 'Champagne Charlie' but that was in stark contrast to his image on the field where nothing could disguise the fact that he was a ruthless competitor with a steely determination to win at all costs – qualities that made him a natural choice to lead the team.

No opposition crowd, however hostile, could faze his ice-cool temperament in the heat of the battle, while no opposing players would escape without retribution if they'd committed any misdemeanors against his Liverpool team-mates.

The more intimidating the atmosphere, the better he performed - a fact never better illustrated than during the climax to the triumphant 1984 European Cup winning campaign. In the semi-final second leg against Dinamo Bucharest, Souey was targeted by the Romanian crowd following an incident in the first leg that left a Dinamo player with a broken jaw. But, with every boo, whistle and jeer, the Reds skipper grew in stature and orchestrated proceedings as a place in the final was memorably secured.

Having already scored the winning goal which clinched the Milk Cup for Liverpool that season and having lifted a third successive League Championship, an unprecedented treble was now on the cards and there was no better man to lead the Reds into the lions den of the Olympic Stadium in Rome than Souness.

With a frenzied home crowd baying for blood, he boldly led his colleagues on a pre-match walkabout that sent confidence in the red camp soaring and planted the first seeds of doubt in the minds of the previously ultra-positive AS Roma fans.

A couple of hours later and Souey was deservedly basking in the glory of his finest moment in a Liverpool shirt after inspiring the Reds to a fourth European Cup triumph against all the odds. Leading by example in the white-hot Italian atmosphere and netting from the spot in the never-to-be-forgotten shoot-out victory.

But little did anyone at the time know, hoisting the giant trophy aloft was to be his last act as a Liverpool player. That summer he ended months of speculation by opting to try his luck abroad, leaving for the land of the lira in a £650,000 deal that saw him join Sampdoria.

Unlike many other 'greats' who had left the club, Liverpool struggled to replace a player of Souey's calibre. At the peak of his powers, the one-time 'emperor of Anfield', was rightly regarded as one of the best all-round midfield players there has ever been.

Few Liverpudlians will disagree and he'll always be considered an automatic choice whenever any all-time Reds XI is discussed. Even his unsuccessful spell as manager cannot change that.

Sold to: Sampdoria (June 1984)

Claim to fame: Skippering Liverpool to the treble in 1984

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