Having last week talked about the impact Gary McAllister had in the heart of the midfield in 2000-2002, it’s fitting that number eight is also a midfield great at Liverpool for a host of very different reasons. It’s also apropos that he’s another Scot and, while I’m opening myself to bias accusations here, it can’t be helped that many of Liverpool’s greatest have been from north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Signed from Middlesbrough in January 1978 for a then-British record £352,000 (to stick it to Manchester United as well), Graeme Souness had a reputation as being one of the finest players in the country but also one of the more sociable ones as well. He had already left Spurs after demanding first team games at 17 while his time at Boro was punctuated by many, many, many, many, many, many, many nights out.
He arrived at Liverpool as Bob Paisley’s final piece of the jigsaw and immediately imposed himself as the driving force of that great Liverpool side. There are countless accounts of Souness’ stone face in the face of vicious abuse. European away days in Eastern Europe were notorious for incredibly hostile crowds at times but Souness’ bread and butter was to take a ball, run out of the tunnel and go and warm up in front of the home fans. There is also the story of the 1984 European Cup semi final against Dinamo Bucharest where Souness took horrific abuse from the Dimano players but didn’t react and guided the Reds to another final.
Within four months of his arrival, he already had his hands on a European Cup and it was the first of three he’d win in his six and a half years at Anfield. Add in the customary league titles and cups at the time and Souness’ trophy haul was as legendary as his playing ability. His partnership with Terry McDermott was so good that I’m sure many fans would still rave about the two of them to this day. What’s more is that Paisley saw Souness’ greatness as well and gave him the captaincy as the 80s rolled into view.
Souness would eventually leave after the 1984 European Cup final for Sampdoria and reportedly Joe Fagan told the players at the time to “forget Souness”. Liverpool the following season would win nothing which goes to show just how important Souness really was. Many players of the time actually consider Souness to be the best player they ever played with rather than the usual choice of Kenny Dalglish which is another testament to just how good Souness was as a player.
While his disastrous spell as manager has rather tarnished his legacy at Anfield, it’s certainly in no doubt that the signing of Graeme Souness was a masterstroke by the legendary Bob Paisley. From his fearless leadership to his incredible ability with the ball, Graeme Souness is one of the finest players to have played for Liverpool and a deserving number eight on this list.
Next time out, we take a look at one of Bill Shankly’s most important signings and another Scot as well.
I’m not biased!