Graeme Souness

You wouldn't have fancied a 50-50 with him

Player Biography
Full name: Graeme James Souness
Date of birth: May 6, 1953
Clubs played for: Tottenham, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Sampdoria, Rangers
Clubs managed: Rangers, Liverpool, Galatasaray, Torino, Benfica, Blackburn, Newcastle
Graeme Souness, 1975
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Right place, wrong time for Souness the manager - by David Anderson

NO figure in the history of Liverpool has been as loved and loathed by the Kop as Graeme Souness.

As a player, he was adored by Kopites as Liverpool's all-conquering sides of the late '70s and early '80s swept all before them at home and in Europe. Under his captaincy, Liverpool ruled supreme, winning five league titles, three European Cups and four League Cups in his seven seasons at Anfield.

The Scot was the dominant midfielder of his day, and he had the unique ability to combine the subtlety of a playmaker with the brutality of a hatchet man. He revelled in the limelight, earning the nickname 'Champagne Charlie' for his love of a good time.

With his bubble perm and bushy moustache, he even landed a cameo role in Alan Bleasdale's Boys from the Black Stuff in the 1980s, appearing opposite Yosser Hughes (Bernard Hill).

When he left after leading Liverpool to their fourth European Cup success in 1984 - and their third trophy that season - his place in the pantheon of Anfield greats seemed secured. But his ill-fated three-year spell as Liverpool manager in the early 1990s undermined everything he had achieved in the minds of many Reds' fans.

He seemed the natural choice to take over when Kenny Dalglish stunned the football world by quitting in 1991. Souness had been schooled in the ways of the boot room under Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Ronnie Moran and had proved at Rangers that he could be successful as a manager.

But the Liverpool he returned to in April 1991 was very different from the one he had left seven years previously. The Anfield empire was crumbling and Souness quickly realised that the team needed major surgery.

The only problem was that once he had dismantled Liverpool, he couldn't figure out how to put it back together again.

He had inherited an ageing side - a fact borne out by the number of testimonials he attended during his reign - and he set about the side with a hatchet, giving the likes of Peter Beardsley and Steve McMahon the chop.

He was also shocked that Liverpool's training methods had not moved on and, schooled in Italian ways from his two years with Sampdoria, he made several changes. Out went the tradition of players getting changed at Anfield before being bused to training at nearby Melwood and back again. Instead, the players were told to report directly to Melwood, where they found steak and chips were off the menu.

He clashed with anyone who questioned his tough-training methods, despite the resultant upsurge in muscle injuries, and Ian Rush was one of a number of senior players put in their place when they spoke up.

Souness tried to rejuvenate the team with new blood, but most of his signings like Dean Saunders, Mark Walters, Torben Piechnik, Julian Dicks, Paul Stewart and Istvan Kozma flopped, although Rob Jones and David James were successes.

To his credit, he gave young talents like Robbie Fowler, Steve McManaman and Jamie Redknapp their chance after Dalglish had seemed reluctant to play them. Looking back, though, Souness admits he was too hasty.

He said: "What has happened since has gone to prove that I was not to blame for all the ills. My problem was that I tried to change it too quickly.

"I found the change of mood in the dressing room both startling and alarming. How could standards have slipped so badly? I could not accept the lack of determination and fire in their bodies to win games for Liverpool."

Other changes came and the hallowed boot room at Anfield went to make way for a press room. This was seen as hugely symbolic by Liverpool fans, as if Souness was trying to eradicate an ethos which went back to the days of Bill Shankly.

Although Liverpool did win the FA Cup in 1992 - Souness' only trophy - in league terms, the slide under him was dramatic. The Reds failed to challenge for the title in his first full season in 1992 and finished way off the pace in sixth in 1993.

However,what really tarnished Souness in the eyes of many Liverpool fans was his decision to sell the story of his heart bypass surgery to The Sun in 1992.

The Sun is still reviled on Merseyside for the scurrilous accusations it made about Liverpool supporters at the Hillsborough disaster and to compound Souness' monumental error of judgement, the story came out on the third anniversary of the tragedy with a picture of him kissing his then fiancee, now wife, Karen.

Souness admits he should have resigned there and then and said: "Because our FA Cup semi-final with Portsmouth went to penalties, the paper missed the deadline.

"It ended up in the newspaper on the Wednesday - the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. I should have resigned then, looking back.  I will forever be sorry it happened. It was out of my control. I was in hospital having an operation which, as it turned out, was life threatening.

"It was a foolish mistake, but when somebody tells you at 37 that you are going to have open heart surgery and that you might die, how would you react? I reacted in a way which I'll regret for the rest of my life. I'm sorry to the people on Merseyside whom I offended and I shall eternally be sorry".

Souness showed great courage to climb off his hospital bed to lead Liverpool out for the 1992 final against Sunderland at Wembley, although it is a day he does not look back on with much fondness.

Despite Liverpool's 2-0 victory, he was finished as far as many fans were concerned and, as results worsened, he found the pressure of trying to restore Liverpool's past glories too much.

The final act came in January 1994 when Liverpool lost an FA Cup replay at home to Bristol City. Liverpool had hit rock bottom and Souness offered his resignation to chairman David Moores, who reluctantly accepted it.

It was sad to see such a fierce and proud man, who had given his all for Liverpool, finally broken. As Souness later reflected himself: "I was in the right place at the wrong time."

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Club Career

After an apprenticeship with Spurs, and then a promotion-winning stint at Middlesbrough, Graeme Souness joined Liverpool as part of the Scottish 'holy trinity', which included Alan Hansen and Kenny Dalglish.

A combination of ruthless aggression and impressive subtlety saw him become one of the most feared midfielders in the land and helped the Reds establish themselves as the dominant force in European football. A two-year spell at Sampdoria ended in 1986, when he became player-manager at Rangers before hanging up his boots four years later.

Club Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1970-72 Tottenham 0 0
1972-78 Middlesbrough 176 22
1978-84 Liverpool 247 38
1984-86 Sampdoria 56 8
1986-91 Rangers 50 3

International Career

The tough-tackling midfielder made his debut in a 3-0 friendly victory against East Germany in October 1974 and went on to register 54 appearances and four goals during a 12-year international career. This took in three World Cups, in 1978, 1982 and 1986, and eventually saw him inducted into Scotland's national team Hall of Fame in 2004.

International Career Stats

Years Clubs App Goals
1974-86 Scotland 54 4

Managerial Career

Souness wreaked nothing short of a revolution on Scottish football. He arrived at an ailing Rangers in the summer of 1986 and turned the club around 360 degrees. At a time when English clubs were banned from continental competition, he used European football to lure the likes of Terry Butcher, Mark Hateley and Chris Woods to Ibrox.

He ripped up a century of tradition when he dared to sign a Catholic, Mo Johnston. It brought the club three titles under his management, but he didn't find it quite so easy when he headed back to Anfield in 1991. Ever since, Souness has been an international manager for hire.

Key Games

Liverpool 1-0 FC Bruges (European Cup final, May 10, 1978)

A tight affair at Wembley, notable largely for Bruges' negative tactics, was finally settled when a steady build-up allowed Souness – a potent force all evening – to deliver a trademark defence-splitting pass to his fellow countryman, Kenny Dalglish. The striker's delicate chip went wide of the goalkeeper's despairing right hand and Liverpool were on their way to a famous victory.

Scotland 3-2 Holland (World Cup finals group stage, June 11, 1978)

After a disastrous start to the 1978 World Cup, in which Scotland lost to Peru and drew with Iran, Souness returned from injury to inspire a jaw-dropping 3-2 defeat of eventual finalists Holland. Archie Gemmill's solo wonder goal received all the plaudits but undoubtedly the steel and quality in midfield provided by 'Souey' nullified much of the Dutch threat. Alas, a 72nd minute goal from Johnny Rep meant Scotland still went out on goal difference.

Liverpool 5-1 CSKA Sofia (European Cup quarter-final 1st leg, March 4, 1981)

A second European Cup medal for Souness arrived in 1981 and with it a campaign which not only confirmed Liverpool as the number one team in Europe, but also established Souness as one of the best midfielders of his generation. Ultimately Bob Paisley's men would defeat Real Madrid in the final, but in the quarter-final they demolished CSKA Sofia 6-1 on aggregate. Souness scored a stunning hat-trick in a convincing first leg victory.

Honours

Club Competition Year
Middlesbrough Second Division Championship 1973-74
Liverpool League Championship 1978-79, 1979-80, 1981-82, 1983-84
League Cup 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984
European Cup 1978, 1981, 1984
Sampdoria Italian Cup 1985
Rangers (as manager) Scottish Premier League 1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90
Scottish League Cup 1987, 1988, 1989
Liverpool (as manager) FA Cup 1992
Galatasaray (as manager) Turkish Cup 1996
Blackburn (as manager) League Cup 2002

Did You Know...?

Souness and current Liverpool first-team coach Sammy Lee appeared as themselves in a 1982 episode of Alan Bleasdale's political drama Boys from the Blackstuff.

He was voted number nine in the poll 100 Players Who Shook the Kop, conducted on Liverpool FC's official site.

He narrowly avoided causing a riot after his Galatasaray side beat local rivals Fenerbahce in the 1996 Turkish Cup final. He grabbed a huge Galatasaray flag, embedded it in the centre circle and had to be escorted away by police for his own protection.

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From the back pages

A Fair Kop! Published: January 11, 1978

Souness signs for Liverpool news story

Scotland 3-2 Holland Published: June 12, 1978

World Cup group stage match report

Liverpool 5-1 CSKA Sofia Published: March 5, 1981

European Cup quarter-final 1st leg report

Everton 0-0 Liverpool Published: March 26, 1984

Milk Cup final match report

Liverpool 1-1 Roma (Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties) Published: May 31, 1984

European Cup final back page

Liverpool 2-0 Sunderland Published: May 11, 1992

FA Cup final match report

Coventry 5-1 Liverpool Published: December 21, 1992

Premier League match report

  • Arsenal 1-0 Tottenham

    FA Cup semi-final, April 4, 1993

  • Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Arsenal

    FA Cup Semi-Final, April 14, 1991

  • AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (aet, Liverpool won 3–2 on penalties)

    2005 Champions League final

  • Tottenham 3-2 Manchester City

    FA Cup final replay, May 14, 1981

  • Manchester City 4-1 Tottenham

    First Division, December 9, 1967

  • Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool

    First Division, May 3, 1986

  • E.ON Great Saves No.10: Jose Reina

    FA Cup final, May 13, 2006

  • Liverpool 1-2 Manchester United

    FA Cup final, May 21, 1977

  • Liverpool 2-1 Manchester United

    Milk Cup Final, March 26, 1983

  • Liverpool 1-1 AS Roma (aet, Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties)

    1984 European Cup final

  • E.ON Great Saves No.7: Peter Schmeichel

    FA Cup semi-final replay, April 14, 1999

  • E.ON Great Saves No.6: Mark Crossley

    FA Cup final, May 18, 1991

  • E.ON Great Saves No.5: Dave Beasant

    FA Cup final, May 4, 1988

  • Portsmouth 0-1 Southampton

    FA Cup fourth round, January 28, 1984

  • Liverpool 3-2 Arsenal

    First Division, August 22, 1964