#9 - Graeme Souness
Name: Graeme Souness
Years at Liverpool: 1978 to 1984
Signed from: Middlesbrough (January 1978)
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 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
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.
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
Did you know? He appeared in Alan Bleasdale's television drama of the early 1980's 'Boys From The Blackstuff', alongside his look-a-like actor Bernard Hill – aka Yozzer Hughes
Where is he now? No longer actively involved in the game since his sacking as Newcastle boss last season and is currently employed as a television pundit
Dave Kirby on Graeme Souness: "Probably the most complete midfielder I've seen. I mean, Steven Gerrard is getting up there now and he's got a variation in his game but Souness was a born winner. I've seen a good few players in my time but Souness, if I saw him now, I'd shake his hand. You've got to remember what he did for this club in the six years he was here as a player."
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Saturday, September 30, 2006
#9 - Graeme Souness