Kenny Dalglish Appreciation

There can only ever be one King and the man who's earned the right to take his place on the Anfield throne is the one and only Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish. Regarded by the majority of Liverpudlians as the club's greatest ever player, his all round stunning brilliance has been deemed to have shaken the Kop more than anyone else.

When he joined the club in August 1977 it was hard to see how Liverpool could top their first European Cup triumph of the previous season but with the highly influential Dalglish in the team the next 13 years were to bring a succession of untold riches.

Unlike many Liverpool signings of this era, Dalglish was already a household name when he made the switch from Parkhead to Anfield. His deeds in the green and white hoops of Celtic had made him one of the most sought after figures in the British game and it required a record £440,000 fee to secure his services.

The Scotland international was brought in to replace the recently departed Kop idol Kevin Keegan, who'd moved to Hamburg earlier that summer. If any player could step into Keegan's illustrious boots it was Dalglish and fears some Liverpudlians may have harboured over their new purchase were quickly laid to rest.

Dalglish found the back of the net within seven minutes of his league debut for the Reds, against Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park, and followed that up by hitting the target again on his first appearance in front of the Kop three days later as Newcastle were beaten 2-0.

He slipped seamlessly into the Paisley's all-conquering red machine and achieved the seemingly impossible by helping them move up another gear or two. The new King of the Kop crowned his first season at Anfield by topping the club's goalscoring charts and chipped in with the only goal of the 1978 European Cup Final against FC Bruges at Wembley . a delicate dink over the keeper that was quite simply perfection personified.

His superb ball control was complemented by a world-class footballing brain. He may never have been the fastest in terms of pace but if speed of thought had been an Olympic event Dalglish would have been a record gold medal holder.

Plying his trade south of the border mean his talents were given greater exposure but, never one to seek the limelight, he was loathe to take credit for his heroic actions and remained typically modest despite his increasing superstar status.

In 1979, his supreme individual ability was recognised by the football writer's of England who voted the canny Scot their Football of the Year. It was a fully deserved reward for a player whose every touch had Kopites purring with delight.

A selfless team player who brought others into play, he was an on-pitch visionary who could spot an opening that the naked eye of most would never see. David Johnson, in the late S eventies, was the first grateful recipient of this but it was Kenny's strike partnership with Ian Rush that was to fire the Reds to greater glory during the eighties.

With Rush taking over the mantle of chief goalscorer, Dalglish became the undisputed creator supreme and if assists were recorded back then, he'd have been the first name on everyone's Fantasy Football teamsheet.

In the real world he was a priceless commodity and the role he played in the club's ongoing success was vital. A double footballer of the year in 1983, he was without doubt the finest British-born player of his generation and rightly spoken about in the same tone as such world renowned stars from this era like of Maradona, Zico, Platini and Rummenigge.

With the ball at his feet he was a pure genius and of the 172 goals, he himself scored, it's hard to recall one that wasn't a classic. From the aforementioned European Cup winner, to sublime curlers at Highbury, Portman Road and Goodison, a mazy dribble through the Man United defence at Maine Road, a stretching volley in the League Cup f inal replay versus West Ham at Villa Park and title clinchers against Tottenham and Chelsea. There are countless more memorable strikes and everyone will have their own particular favourite.

The one common denominator in all the goals he netted was the famous Kenny celebration; a quick turn, arms aloft and a beaming smile that would have lit up even the murkiest night sky over the Mersey.

The adulation showered on him by the Kop could be described as hero-worship at its most fanatical. He was loved at Anfield like no player before and the feeling was mutual. His name was the first the fans would sing and many a bed sheet was converted into a homemade banner paying homage to him.

In the aftermath of the Heysel Stadium disaster he was a surprising but popular appointment as player/manager and fears that his new role would result in him spending more time on the touchline and less on the pitch were initially unfounded.

It was on his return to the side during the run-in to the momentous 85/86 campaign that Liverpool embarked on an unbeaten run that would see them clinch a coveted League and FA Cup double and how fitting it was that Dalglish 'the player' scored the goal that secured the title.

Gradually, but inevitably, his appearances became less and less over the next few years as he concentrated more on the managerial aspects of his dual role but there was still the odd flashes of brilliance to revel in as the master sought to teach his apprentices.

What Dalglish went on to achieve as Liverpool manager cemented his legendary status but he did more than enough during his playing career to be rightfully hailed as the greatest player in Liverpool history.

Long live the undisputed King of the Kop!