Liverpool Football Club – one of the biggest names in the English game.
Dominant from the mid-1970s through to 1990, the Reds were transformed by Bill Shankly and led to undreamt-of heights by Bill Paisley and Joe Fagan.
Can Jurgen Klopp take them back to those glory days? Which of his current crop is good enough to make our list, if any? Don’t forget to check out our preview of the 2019 UEFA European Super Cup match as Liverpool take on Chelsea in Istanbul.
Join us as we look at the top 10 best Liverpool players of all time. Which of these talismanic Reds do we think is the greatest to wear the most famous shirt in English football.
10. Mo Salah
Despite being at Anfield a relatively short time, Mo Salah’s importance to Jurgen Klopp’s success is impossible to understate.
The Egypt international scored 44 goals in his first season, just shy of Ian Rush’s 47-goal club record for goals in a season.
It was, however, comfortably the most scored by any Reds player in their debut season.
A club-record signing at £42m, Salah took his second chance in English football with both hands. Not that there was as much risk compared to the youthful winger Chelsea signed from Basel.
Salah scored on his debut in the win over West Ham in 2017, repeating the feat of scoring on the opening day in both 2018 and 2019.
Europe proved a mixed hunting ground for Salah.
Injured early in the 2018 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, the Egyptian scored inside two minutes a year later as the Reds beat Tottenham 2 – 0 in, of all places, Madrid.
Add a league title, the club’s first in 29 years, and Mo Salah may just elevate himself to a club legend. For now, he’s the first entry in our top 10 best Liverpool players!
9. Kevin Keegan
In the aftermath of losing the 1971 FA Cup final, Liverpool boss Bill Shankly signed a small striker from Scunthorpe United.
Joseph Kevin Keegan proved that hard work on the training ground brings rewards.
He scored on his debut against Nottingham Forest and in the same 1971/72 season, earned his first England cap.
Keegan went on to score 100 goals in 321 Liverpool appearances, thriving in what became an archetypal strike partnership with towering Welshman John Toshack.
The England man won three league titles at Anfield, two UEFA Cup finals and scored a brace in the 1974 FA Cup final.
But his iconic moment came as he stole the show in his final game for the club: the 1977 Champions Cup final. Keegan ran World Cup winner Bertie Vogts ragged, winning a first-half penalty, as Liverpool deservedly beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3 – 1.
8. Ray Clemence
For most of his international career, Ray Clemence job-shared with Peter Shilton before losing out entirely, as well as living down Kenny Dalglish’s 1976 goal at Hampden Park.
At Anfield, he had no such problems and easily makes our top 10 best Liverpool players list.
Like Kevin Keegan, Clemence began his career at Scunthorpe United, joining Liverpool in 1967, becoming the first-choice goalkeeper in 1970.
The 1971 FA Cup final was a rare moment of failure for the Skegness-born ‘keeper. He only lost two more finals in Liverpool colours during his fourteen-year career.
Clemence was unruffled in goals. Whereas his successor Bruce Grobbelaar thrived on chaos and eccentricity, Clem was the epitome of calm in his 500+ appearances.
It served him well at key moments, such as the 1977 Champions Cup final and in creating the record for least goals conceded in a 42-match season (16 in 1978-79).
He left Liverpool in 1981 but the words of the official website sum up his contribution:
“Ray Clemence is, without doubt, the greatest goalkeeper ever to play for Liverpool”
7. Robbie Fowler
Better than Michael Owen? Betcha by golly, wow, yes.
Robert Bernard Fowler grew up an Everton fan but crossed to the Red side of Stanley Park, debuting in 1993. He announced himself to the world with five goals in Liverpool’s demolition of Fulham in September of that year.
The Premier League got the message in his fifth game as he grabbed a hat-trick against Southampton, helping him claim 13 goals in his first 12 matches.
His iconic moment came when he scored a hat-trick in two minutes and 56 seconds against Arsenal in 1995. It was the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history, a record which stood for twenty years.
Fowler was prolific in front of goal, netting 116 goals in his first four seasons despite Liverpool’s inconsistency in the Premier League and domestic cups.
One of the club’s Spice Boys, the striker attracted much criticism for his behaviour as injuries and poor form bedevilled him. He still managed 31 goals in 63 games during this time; not bad for someone who was supposed out of form.
In his final three seasons, injuries took their toll, as did a deterioration in his relationship with boss Gerard Houllier.
Things weren’t ending there.
After spells with Leeds and Manchester City, he returned to Anfield in 2006, scoring his first goals against Fulham (who else?) as he ended the campaign with 5 goals in 16 league and cup appearances.
He added seven more the following year before ending his time with the club, having scored 183 goals in 369 appearances.
6. John Barnes
When Liverpool beat Arsenal to John Barnes signature in 1987, he completed one of the strongest attacking line-ups in the club’s history.
Barnes shot to prominence with Graham Taylor’s Watford during their rise to the top-flight but the world sat up and took notice after he waltzed through the Brazil defence as England won 2 – 0.
He scored on debut in a 2 – 1 win over Arsenal at Highbury, he scored 30 goals in his first two seasons which brought him a league title and an FA Cup.
A member of the team which lost the league to Arsenal in 1989, he enjoyed his most productive season with 28 goals in 1990 as Liverpool reclaimed their crown.
He scored a further 48 goals in 269 goals with mesmerising dribbling skills and accurate delivery from set-pieces coming to the fore.
An Achilles tendon injury in 1992 saw then-boss Graeme Souness move Barnes into a more central playmaking role.
His relationship with the Scot despite his manager agreeing that Barnes “retained his quality on the ball, using it well and rarely losing possession.”
But it was his early days at Anfield which saw the best of his career, culminating in the Football Writers Player of the Year award in 1990.
Barnes’ didn’t limit his club and country appearances to the football pitch. He led the Anfield Rap in 1988 which reached #3 in the charts before contributing memorably to EnglandNewOrder reaching #1.
A talented player whose inclusion in our top 10 best Liverpool players is without question.
5. Ray Kennedy
Of course, he’s number five in this list; there could be no other for one of the finest English midfielders.
Rejected as a schoolboy by Sir Stanley Matthews, then boss of Port Vale, Ray Kennedy joined Arsenal and never looked back.
Pivotal in the Gunners glory days in the 1970s – Kennedy’s goal at Tottenham clinched the league title – he was Bill Shankly’s final signing as Liverpool manager. His £250,000 fee was expensive in 1974; in the Premier League now, Kennedy would be priceless.
72 goals in 393 games doesn’t tell half the story.
He was a pivotal member of the outstanding Reds’ squads of the 1970s and early 1980s. Kennedy was so good, he could occupy any number in the top 10 best Liverpool players of all time.
His role of honour in an eight-year spell at Anfield speaks for itself: five league titles, an FA Cup and League Cup, three Champions Cup, a UEFA Cup and Super Cup plus runners-up medals in all these as well as the World Club Championship.
In a cruel twist of fate, Kennedy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
His testimonial match between Arsenal and Liverpool attracted a sell-out crowd to Highbury such was the esteem in which he was – and is – still held by supporters of both clubs.
4. Graeme Souness
A fiery Scot, Graeme Souness moved to Anfield in 1978, winning five league titles, four League Cups and three Champions Cups in seven seasons.
Captain Fantastic in our list of top 10 best Liverpool players? That’s not so clear-cut.
A pivotal member of the dominant Liverpool side of the era, his attacking qualities were often overlooked as his tenacious tackling drew the headlines.
With Kennedy, Jimmy Case and Terry McDermott, Souness formed one of the toughest midfields seen in the English game but also one of the most technically adept.
His keen eye for goal saw him claim a hat-trick in a win over CSKA Sofia en route to winning his second Champions Cup in 1981.
Appointed captain in Summer 1981, Souness led the Reds to three consecutive league and League Cup doubles, as well as the Champions Cup in 1984.
It was only in his final season that he failed to win any major trophies, leaving Liverpool after more than 350 appearances to become a British pioneer in 1980s Serie A with Sampdoria.
3. Ian Rush
Liverpool signing young Chester City striker Ian Rush in December 1980 caused barely a ripple in a national media more concerned with the Reds apparent decline.
The callow 19-year-old, however, signalled the beginning of a new era of success.
207 goals later and those same pages lamented his departure to Italy. Rush was a phenomenon, as he and Kenny Dalglish terrorised defences in his near-350 games during his first spell at the club.
All the more remarkable was the run the Reds embarked upon after his first goal for the club. Oulun Pallouseura were the victims in September 1981 but for almost six years, when Rush scored Liverpool didn’t lose.
Like all good things, it came to an end at, of all places, Wembley when Arsenal recovered from his 23rd-minute goal to win the 1987 Littlewoods Cup final.
He returned to Anfield after an ill-spent year in Italy, causing Kenny Dalglish to quip the Welshman said: “It’s like living in a foreign country.”
Rush was less prolific in his second spell at Anfield with a mere 139 goals in a further 300 games for the club. Few others managed close to a goal every other game across their careers, let alone eight seasons.
Injury and a club in decline meant it was a less successful spell with just one league title to add to his previous four…
His clinical finishing inspired future generations including Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen. Every Red wanted to be the next Ian Rush.
That legacy is as important to the club as his impressive haul of silverware.
2. Steven Gerrard
Like Ryan Giggs at Manchester United, Steven Gerrard is one of the last of a dying breed: the one-club man.
Yes, he played for LA Galaxy after but that was topping up his pension; the real legend was born and bred at Anfield.
In 710 games, he scored 186 goals but that barely scratches the surface of his time at Liverpool.
Gerrard was captain on that crazy night in Istanbul, scoring the first as the Reds fought back from a 3 – 0 halftime deficit. An iconic night, immortalised in Lego…
He scored on an even madder European night as Liverpool beat Spanish club CD Alaves 5 – 4 in the 2001 Europa League final in Dortmund.
Gerrard enjoyed finals, scoring twice in the 2006 FA Cup final – his second triumph in the competition – as well as in the second of three League Cup finals. Manchester United were the victims in 2003, making the moment even sweeter.
The Premier League crown escaped him, however, as Liverpool habitually failed to end their title drought.
That Gerrard won 48 individual awards from a mix of fans, players and journalists underline his status in English football.
At Liverpool, he’ll just have to settle for legend and member of our list of top 10 best Liverpool players of all time.
1. Kenny Dalglish
When Liverpool spent £440,000 on Celtic striker Kenny Dalglish in 1977, few expected him to become an enduring Kop idol.
But ‘King Kenny’ Dalglish became exactly that.
He endeared himself to Liverpudlians when he clipped the ball over Bruges goalkeeper Birger Jensen for the only goal of the 1978 Champions Cup final. It was his 31st and most important goal of the season.
In 13 seasons as a player, including five as player-manager, Dalglish scored 169 goals in 502 games.
Such was his importance to the team, he created as many for teammates. The Scot, capped 102 times by his country, did the simple extraordinarily well and made the extraordinary look, well, simple.
He played 180 consecutive games for the Reds from his August 1977 debut against Manchester United at Wembley. During that time, Liverpool were crowned champions twice as well as winning the Champions Cup and Super Cup.
But as much as the player is remembered, it is the man who is adored for the warmth and compassion he displayed after the Hillsborough Tragedy, attending a significant number of funerals held for the victims.
Legend is a word thrown around all too easily; not in this instance.