Tommy Smith

 

Born:             Liverpool, 5.4. 1945
Signed:          April 1962
Games:          637 (2)
Goals:              48
Honours:        European Cup 76/77
                     UEFA Cup 72/73, 75/76
                     First Division 65/66, 72/73, 75/76, 76/77
                     FA Cup 64/65, 73/74
                     Hall of Fame 99
                     England Caps 1
Other clubs:   Swansea City 78/79

 

Tommy Smith joined the Anfield ground staff at the age of 15 and was deposited into the club's hands with a request from his mother for Shankly to look after him. Mrs. Smith needn't have worried. For the better part of the next two decades it was her son who would be taking care of those around him in one sense, and those who threatened his team's goal in entirely another.

He was handed his first-team debut when he just was 17. He persisted with the approach to make up for his lack of first hand knowledge of life in the top league. Tommy knew that his strength was, quite literally, his strength.
The iron man actually began his senior Liverpool career as a wing-half, but within six months of his debut he had found his spiritual home in the centre of defence. Operating first as "Ron Yeats' right leg", then taking the leading role himself in the early 1970s. Tommy was one of the few constants in Shankly's two great sides and exuded a presence as colossal as that of the man he first learned his trade alongside.

Tommy's positional play enabled him to perform an impressively lengthy period at the highest level without being embarrassed by his lack of pace. His good control, sound passing and measured excursions into enemy territory never went amiss either. 
His repeated appearance in the probing keep-ball of the Liverpool move that led to Kevin Keegan's second goal in the 1974 FA Cup final - a match played during the period in which he stood in admirable at right-back for injured Chris Lawler - was particularly memorable, as he played a delicious one-two to create space for the low cross that picked out the number seven at the far post.
By then Smithy was no longer captain, having been relieved of the position six months earlier after a row with Shankly over the manager's decision to drop him.
The two strong-willed men enjoyed a good relationship from the simple fotballing philosophy they both shared. Sometimes, however, they turned the air between them blue. When they disagreed there was no way either party would think of backing down. But those bust-ups were quickly forgotten.

The Anfield Iron never shouted less when he wasn't captain. With a bark as fierce as his bite, he continued bellowing his defence into line as the elder statesman of Bob Paisley's first teams. As 1976-77 season began with Tommy in his 32nd year, Paisley let him know that he was unlikely to be more than a stand-in and Smithy announced he would hang up his boots at the campaign's end.
But far from going out on a silent note he ended the campaign with the greatest moment of his career. An injury to Phil Thompson in March 1977 let the old faithful back in and he went with the side all the way to the European Cup final, in which he marked his 600th and supposedly last game for the club with the goal that gave the Reds the lead in the most important match of their history.

Tommy Smith retired the year after. He had given his all for Liverpool Football Club.
(From "Liverpool Greatest Players" by David Walmsley)


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