The summer of 1977. Liverpool were Champions of Europe. They had beaten Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in Rome on a night to remember. It was already known ahead of the game that star player Kevin Keegan was about to leave the club.
Keegan left after the final, joining German side Hamburg. At the time it was a record fee – Liverpool received £500,000 for the player. Many Reds were devastated and disappointed. Liverpool could surely never find a replacement for him.
As the summer progressed, the news was finally announced. Bob Paisley had already had Keegan’s replacement lined up, and finally he was unveiled. Liverpool spent nearly all of the money on the replacement – £440,000. The replacement was unheard of by many, because he played in another league. The Scottish League. People thought he’d be OK, but no Keegan.
With no disrespect to Kevin Keegan, his replacement completely eclipsed him. The replacement was Kenny Dalglish.
Kenny went on to win three European Cups playing for Liverpool. He scored the winning goal at Wembley in 1978 as Liverpool retained the trophy. By the end of the 1986 season, as player-manager, he took Liverpool to the FA Cup and Championship double. Liverpool’s former chairman John Smith is quoted as saying that Dalglish was "the best signing Liverpool have made for a century".
Now back to the present day.
The summer of 2005. Liverpool are Champions of Europe. They beat AC Milan in Istanbul on a night to remember. Prior to the game Steven Gerrard said that the result of that game would make a difference to his decision whether or not to stay.
Now Gerrard is set to leave. Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona – who knows? It looks like it will be a record fee – Liverpool have already turned down a bid that would have been a record – £32million from Chelsea. Some Reds are devastated and disappointed. Can Liverpool find a replacement for him?
For a fee of over £32million? Of course they can find a replacement for him. In fact in many ways it gives the outstanding Xavi Alonso a chance to shine even more. And for the new captain? No doubt who the fans will pick. No disrespect to vice-captain Sami Hyypia, but Jamie Carragher is the most inspirational player in Liverpool’s squad.
Will Stevie be welcomed back at Anfield again the way Kevin Keegan always has been? He’s more likely to get the reception normally reserved for another former-Liverpool midfielder – Graeme Souness.