Thursday, July 5, 2007

100 Person Who Shock The Kop - NO 3: Ian Rush


Voted in at number three in our '100 Players Who Shook The Kop' series is Liverpool's all-time record goalscorer, master marksman Ian Rush.
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: Ian Rush

Years at Liverpool: 1980 to 1987 & 1988 to 1996
Position: Forward

Date-of-birth: 20/10/1961
Birthplace: St Asaph

Signed from: Chester City (May 1980) & Juventus (August 1988)

Games: 660
Goals: 346

Honours: First Division Championship (1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86, 1989/90), European Cup (1984), FA Cup (1986, 1989, 1992), League Cup (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1995), Charity Shield (1982, 1986, 1989, 1990), ScreenSport Super Cup (1986), PFA Young Player of the Year (1983), PFA Player of the Year (1984), Football Writers Player of the Year (1984)

Only one word is needed to describe Ian Rush's Liverpool career. Goals. Plenty of them, to be more precise. No player in Anfield history has scored more and his record his one that will take some beating.

Nothing shakes the Kop more than a goal and in two glorious spells with the club he netted so many times he must surely have been guilty of causing some structural damage before the old terrace was finally pulled down in 1994.

More importantly, his predatory instincts were instrumental in Liverpool dominating the game for most of the eighties. He was loved at Anfield, feared at every opposition ground and renowned throughout Europe.

A goalscoring legend if there ever was one, it's hard to imagine that his glittering career with the Reds had such an inauspicious beginning. Signed from Chester City towards the end of the 1979/80 season for a then British record fee for a teenager - £300,000 – Rush felt he wasn't being given a fair crack of the whip by then boss Bob Paisley and asked for a transfer after making just a handful of appearances.

A possible move to Crystal Palace was discussed but Paisley had no intention of ever letting him leave and for that, Liverpudlians can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Rush eventually saw sense, knuckled down and was soon banging goals in for the first team.

Tall, thin and ungainly, the young striker looked anything but a future striking hero when he broke into the team but how looks can be deceptive. It actually took him nine games before registering his first goal for the senior side but once that hit the back of the net there was no stopping him.

It was in 1981/82 that he fully established himself as a Reds regular. Paisley was in the process of rebuilding his team and Rushie's tally of 30 goals in 49 appearances sent out an ominous warning to Liverpool's rivals and helped deliver two trophies to the Anfield sideboard.

The once shy Welshman had also emerged from his shell and no longer felt out of place inside a star-studded dressing room. As a result his confidence soared and the goals began to flow at an even more prolific rate.

In November 1982, an awesome display of finishing by the boyhood Evertonian sunk shell-shocked Everton without trace on an unforgettable afternoon at Goodison that etched his name indelibly into Merseyside football folklore. On the Gwladys Street terrace where he'd once stood, they watched in disbelief as the new Reds number nine massacred the Blues and fired Liverpool to their biggest derby win since 1965.

It also confirmed his reputation as the hottest striker around and soon the big clubs in Europe worryingly began to circle overhead for the first time. Often described by his team-mates of the time as Liverpool's first line of defence, Rush was not just a goalscorer but a hard-working, selfless runner who never gave up the chase.

Electric pace and eagle-eyed anticipation meant he was also a nightmare to mark and his attacking partnership with Kenny Dalglish is genuinely regarded as one of the finest there has ever been.

His tormenting of opposition defences continued unabated and the pinpoint accuracy in his shooting boots was never more evident than during the following season – a campaign in which he was arguably at the peak of his powers.

A remarkable 47-goal haul – 48 if you count his spot kick conversion in Rome – was enough to see him become the first British player to win Europe's Golden Boot, a perfect accompaniment to an unprecedented treble of League title, European Cup and Milk Cup, not to mention double player of the year recognition.

Running on to perfectly threaded through balls was Rush's forte and when one-on-one with a keeper you'd bet your mortgage on him netting. But what made him stand out from the rest was the variation in his goals; countless close-range tap-ins, yes, but also in his locker were many well-drilled angled efforts, the odd 25-yard pile-driver and occasional header.

One of his finest displays of finishing came on an icy night at Villa Park in January 1984 when he bagged a memorable hat-trick that came straight out of the top drawer. Liverpool's master marksman netted against almost every team that had the misfortune to come up against him but it was Mersey neighbours Everton who he inflicted the most damage on and the most memorable of those he notched against the Blues were undoubtedly the two in the 1986 FA Cup Final.

With the coveted League and Cup double at stake, Rush broke Evertonian hearts again with a two-goal blast in a famous 3-1 win beneath the twin towers. But as the dust settled on that triumph the blue half of the city where given reason to dance with joy when it was announced that Liverpool's lean, mean, goalscoring machine had a agreed a deal to join Juventus.

Not surprisingly, news of his move, which wasn't due to go through until the following summer, shook the Kop to its core and a 'Rushie Must Stay' campaign was launched in a futile bid to keep their hero at Anfield. Determined to bow out on a high, Rush signed off by breaching the 40-goal barrier for only the second time in his career and left for the land of the lira with everyone's best wishes.

After just one season in Italy though, he was to make a sensational return amid a blaze of publicity. Having been made aware that their former star had failed to fully settle in Turin, Liverpool jumped at the chance to bring him home and Rushie responded by picking up where he left off, scoring goals for fun and proceeding to smash what goalscoring records he hadn't already.

Everton remained high on his hit-list and another brace of FA Cup Final goals against them in 1989 saw him finally overtake the legendary Dixie Dean as the long-standing derby goal-poacher supreme. Three years later he became the most prolific scorer in FA Cup Final history after he netted his fifth in the showpiece event during the 2-0 victory over Sunderland.

In October 1992 he found the back of the net for a 287th time in a Liverpool shirt and in doing so surpassed Roger Hunt as the most prolific striker in Anfield history. The same year, Rushie's status as one of the club's elder statesman saw him handed the captaincy by manager Graeme Souness and in 1995 he fulfilled a personal dream by lifting the Coca Cola Cup as Reds skipper.

His work at Anfield was still not done and his last act before leaving for Leeds on a free transfer shortly after the 1996 FA Cup Final, was to pass on his goalscoring wisdom to striking prodigy Robbie Fowler.

While records are there to be broken it's not inconceivable to suggest Rushie's phenomenal tally of goals in a Liverpool shirt is likely to stand the test of time.

But even if he is, somehow, one day, displaced from his position at the summit of the clubs all-time leading goalscorers, the fact he shook the Kop a record 346 times means he'll forever be renowned as one of the all-time Anfield greats.

Sold to: Juventus (July 1987) & Leeds (May 1996)

Claim to fame: Scoring more goals for Liverpool than any other player

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