Phil Neal

 

Borne:                       Irchester, Northamptonshire, 29.5. 1951
Transfer Fee:             66.000 (from Northampton Town, October 1974)
Games:                     635 (2 as sub)
Goals:                         60
Honours:                   European Cup 76/77, 77/78, 80/81, 83/4
                                UEFA Cup 75/76
First Division              75/76, 76/77, 78/79, 79/80, 81/82, 83/84, 85/86
League Cup               80/81,81/82,82/83,83/84
England Caps            50
Other clubs:              Northampton Town 68/69 - 74/75
Manager:                  Bolton Wanderers, Coventry City, 
                               Cardiff City, Manchester City
Assistant manager:   Manchester City

 

When Chris Lawler's career was effectively ended by injury in November 1973, many Reds fans must have wondered if the club would ever see a right-back of his quality and consistency again. The wait for a worthy successor lasted just one year, not the lifetime that most observers had expected.
For once Phil Neal took his place in the Liverpool line-up he made himself such a permanent fixture that the records of reliability he set may never be equalled. Neal missed just one league game in his first ten years. And after a dead leg forced him out of a European Cup trip to Trabzonspor in October 1976 he embarked on an incredible run of 417 consecutive appearances for the Reds.

Bob Paisley saw Neal as a utility player who could figure throughout the defence, and as the new man had spent the last two-thirds of the game in goal when chief scout Geoff Twentyman had been to watch him, that wasn't to far off the mark.
In fact, it was as a left-back that Phil made his Liverpool debut when the manager threw him into the cauldron of a Goodison derby just a month after his arrival. If no one knew who he was before kick-off, his performance in the goalless draw made his face among the best known in the city. Over the next 11 years, Neal would win 16 major trophies and tot up the half century of international appearances that made him England's most capped right-back.

Did you know that Phil Neal is the only man to appear in all five of Liverpool's European Cup finals and is the only player to score in more than one of them ?

By 1985 Phil was beginning to contemplate a move into management, but the fact that he eventually did so with Bolton rather than Liverpool heralded a brief falling out with his former colleagues at Anfield. Neal's belief that he was a clear favourite to succeed Joe Fagan after Heysel left him severly piqued by the subsequent appointment of Kenny Dalglish and some illadvised comments in the right-back's autobiography a year later saw his erstwhile teammate serve him with a High Court writ.
That brief and quickly forgotten episode should not be allowed to cloud an Anfield career that was as rich in memories as it was in prizes. For no other Red has won as many trophies with the club as Neal did during his time at Anfield, and Phil himself would certainty never want to find himself estranged from the institution for whom he laboured so tirelessly for so long.

His years at Liverpool had provided him with more good memories than any player could ever dare to expect from the game and in a gesture of thanks to the club and the people of the city for giving him the happiest days of his professional life he loaned his entire medal collection to the Red's museum.
For 11 years of unprece-dented success, the Anfield public owes Phil Neal just as big a debt of gratitude. (From "Liverpool Greatest Players" by David Walmsley)


Thor Zakariassen