kopthaticon

LIVER BIRD – Past Players: Volume 8 – Ian Callaghan

Ian Callaghan is a player stamped into Anfield folklore after recording a massive 857 appearances for the club. Callaghan who was born in Toxteth in April 1942 was a versatile midfielder who began his career at Liverpool on the right wing and eventually ended up in the centre.Callaghan is a name you learn as a Liverpool fan no matter what age you are sucked into the club but it is the older generation who had the privalege to experience his ability and charm first hand.The BasicsFull Name: Ian Robert CallaghanDate Of Birth: 10th April 1942Born in: Toxteth, LiverpoolPosition: MidfielderPersonal LifeUnlike a lot of Liverpool legends that I end up writing about on the blog Callaghan was a boyhood Liverpool fan and not infact a bluenose. He joined Liverpool as an apprentice in 1960 at the age of 17.Callghan is also different in that, unlike a lot of past players he hasn’t sought after the limelight. He’s a very down to earth man and after retiring, other than starting up an insurance business he pretty much keeps himself to himself. He can often be found at Anfield however and is also involved with the official fan club.Ian Callaghan was made a member of the order of the British Empire in 1974.Callaghan retired from football at the age of 39 due to injury.Liverpool FCCallaghan made his Liverpool debut shortly after singing as an apprentice at the club. Aged 18 he featured in a 4-0 win over Bristol Rovers. Despite impressing in his first game Callaghan would have to wait until the 1961/62 season to become a regular under the great Bill Shankly.As we all know though, as soon as he was slotted into the starting XI, he barely ever left. For 15 years he would remain a staple of that Liverpool side picking up only one yellow card in the process.Callaghan’s first Liverpool goal came in the 1961/1962 season against Preston North End. He played a big role during this season aiding Liverpool’s promotion to the first division after having been stuck in the second tier for eight years!Renown for his speed Callaghan in the first part of his Liverpool career was deployed on the right of midfield. Pacey runs to the byline were a regular occurence over 90 minutes for Reds fans watching and strikers like Ian St John were blessed to have the likes of Callaghan whipping in dangerous crosses.Shankly once said of Ian: “Callaghan will go down as one of the game’s truly great players.” As the seasons progressed Shankly’s prediction became ever more truthful.Callaghan although not the tallest of players never failed to make his presence felt on the field. He was reliable and would do everything in his power to help push his team on. A key influence in the team, it is no surprise that Callaghan would go on to win so many accolades with his side.In the 1963/1964 season Callaghan celebrated Liverpool’s first division league win. He would go on to help the side lift another four of these trophies.The midfielder famously played a huge part in one of Liverpool’s iconic victories. The club’s first ever FA Cup win came in 1965 but it was nearly heartbreak once again for the Reds after the game was tied at 1-1 in extra time. A bit of Callaghan magic though saw him whip a ball into Ian St John who netted to secure Liverpool’s victory.This moment is a proud one for Callaghan who is often asked about this game. I wrote about this FA Cup final for Well Red magazine and I specifically remember being so pleased with Callaghan after he was quoted as saying the FA Cup win was one of his favourite memories other than winning the world cup. This all despite the fact he had lifted the European Cup. I think for me, this goes to show how the FA Cup used to be something special but nowadays is palmed off as a nuisance by some.Callaghan would lift his and Liverpool’s first European Cup with Liverpool in 1977. Now under Bob Paisley, Callaghan was still very much a regular in the side and once again helped his beloved Liverpool past Borussia Monchengladbach in Rome after the Reds won the game 3-1.Callaghan suffered a minor set back in the middle of his Liverpool career when he had to undergo a knee operation. In a way, this was a blessing in disguise because in his absence Callaghan saw Brian Hall take his place on the right. Still under Bill Shankly at this stage, upon returning to the side Shankly opted to move Callaghan into the centre of midfield and whilst this decreased some of Callaghan’s freedom it prolonged his Liverpool career, a very sound move by Shankly prior to a lot of these ideologies of getting the most out of a player’s career. Andrea Pirlo and Steven Gerrard are good example of this today.Callaghan scored a total of 68 goals during his Liverpool career 49 of which came in the league.Other ClubsLater in his career Callaghan had spells in America, Ireland, Australia and also at Swansea and Crewe.He made 20 appearances for Fort Lauderdale Stikers in the USA but scored no goals. Two spells at Swansea City saw him score once in 76 appearances. He appeared 15 times for Crewe again scoring no goals. He only featured 9 times for Canberra in Australia and just twice for Cork in Ireland. If anything though he did a fair bit of travelling!EnglandCallaghan appeared just four times for England but I feel this is something definitely worth noting. His Liverpool career was phenomenal something that will never be matched and it rightly takes precedent over his international career but I feel this is another case of England missing out on a star.Alf Ramsey wasn’t a real fan of wingers and despite Callaghan featuring in a group game in the 1966 World Cup he wasn’t favoured at all by Ramsey. Callaghan however did help his team lift that World Cup in 1966 and had to wait until 2009 to be presented with his World Cup Winner’s medal!Callaghan would not feature for England after that group game for another 11 years. A travesty in my opinion and another example especially back then of how some English managers were stubborn, rooted in their ways and unwilling to exploit a potentially exciting player from the wing.Final ThoughtIt’s a phrase used a lot but I think the one thing I always feel when watching or reading about Ian Callaghan is “they don’t make them like him anymore”. He was one of those players who was modest, he just got on with it and didn’t expect any special treatment at all. He was barely injured and always ready to give his all for the shirt.I suppose the closest younger fans will have seen to the likes of Callaghan is Jamie Carragher or Steven Gerrard. Neither of them come close though when you look at the trophy filled career Callaghan had, he was at Liverpool during a truly fantastic era and I’m proud to have a man like him permanently in Liverpool’s history and record books.HonoursLiverpoolFirst Division: 5Second Division: 1FA Cup: 2Charity Shield: 6European Cup: 2UEFA Cup: 2Super Cup: 1Swansea CityWelsh Cup: 1EnglandFIFA World Cup: 1Like “The Liver Bird” on Facebook – www.facebook.com/TheLiverBirdsBlog

Details