|Alan Hansen - the
first modern defender...
Born on 13 June 1955 at Alloa.
Liverpool very nearly lost a legend to golf. Had Alan Hansen chosen a game of golf over a meeting with Bob Paisley, the Reds would have lost one of the greatest defenders to grace Anfield.
Young Hansen with a handicup of 2, seemed destined for a career in golf Uncle Bob inquired about the young Scottish defender at Partick Thistle. At a mere £100,000, he was probably the finest capture in the transfer market in Liverpool's history.
What Hansen possessed was not the hard-crunching, heart-stopping tackling of the conventional centre-backs then. He did not perhaps come into the mould of Ron Yeats or Tommy Smith, both of whom were rock-solid, no-nonsense defenders who dished out tackles that would make even the toughest of rogues wince. Alan epitomised how the modern centre-back should play... with precise passing and confidence to calm the nerves of any 'keeper.
During the highs of his career, he struck up a formidable partnership with Phil Neal. Their partnership was almost telepathic. His cool playing style did not constitute the tough tackling of traditional stopper. He tackled with the simplest of ease, rarely getting himself dirtied during a tackle. Phil Neal would famously ask at the end of a match, "Did Alan Hansen get dirty?".
The best asset of Hansen to Liverpool FC must definitely be his excellent vision and footballing brain. He always seemed to be able to dribble out of trouble, setting that all important pass to midfield and lending support to the attack. A virtue that was hardly evident in centre-backs then. Perhaps that virtue sets Alan apart from the rest. It was also hardly a surprise that he was compared to the German master, Franz Beckenbauer.
Hansen enjoyed perhaps the glorious period of Liverpool FC's history, playing for 3 great managers, Paisley, Fagan and Daglish. He together with Phil Neal are the most decorated Liverpool players, with 17 honours apiece. When the Liverpool Football Club Museum was recently opened at Anfield, Hansen gladly loaned all his medals and selection of the actual shirts he wore in important games to it.
His illustrious career came to an end in the 1989-90 season. Unlike most Liverpool legends who went on with their careers in other clubs, Alan decided that Liverpool would be the club to end his career. An amazing 31,000 strong crowd turned out for his testimonial match in 1988, demostrating the adoration and respect the Anfield faithful had for him.
Alan pursued a career in BBC as a commentator, after his football career ended, over a much-anticipated move into football management. Perhaps witnessing the emormous pressure Daglish faced then deterred him from taking that path that most retired players seek. After the departure of Souness, Hansen was tipped to take over, but the legend was clear that he would not trade his carefree life as a football pundit to become the gaffer of the most successful club in Britain.
This modern defender brought smiles to many... and would remain a true legend in the hearts of all Liverpool fans.
8 League Titles
4 League Cups (81,82,83,84)
3 European Cups (78,81,84)
2 FA Cups (86,89)
26 caps for Scotland
" Every match I ever played
for Liverpool has been a special event. I can recall virtually every one. How could I
forget playing alongside some of the greatest talents ever to grace a football field? How
could I forget working for the game's most successful managers? How could I forget the
thrill of captaining Liverpool?"
-- Alan Hansen --
Copyright © 1999 Mersey Reds