Bill Shankly was a passionate and inspirational football manager who transformed the fortunes of Liverpool FC and is still revered as a legend of the modern game.
Born in 1913 in the coal-mining village of Glenbuck, Ayrshire, he was the ninth of ten children and one of five brothers who would go on to play football professionally.
After spending two years as miner, he signed for Carlisle United as a ball-winning right-half, going on to win five Scotland caps and an FA Cup winners’ medal with Preston North End. But it was after hanging up his boots in 1949 that he really started to make his name.
Over the next ten years, he had spells in the dugout at Carlisle United, Grimsby Town, Workington and Huddersfield Town. Then in 1959 came the career-defining moment when he was appointed manager of Liverpool.
At that time languishing in the second division, and with a pitch and training facilities in disarray, ‘Shanks’ spent the next 15 years rebuilding and moulding the club into a major force in English and European football.
After leading the club back to the top flight in 1962, he inspired The Reds to the first of three First Division Championships two years later. Under his watchful eye, they also won two FA Cups and four Charity Shields.
He also led them to the first of their modern European successes, when they defeated Borussia Mönchengladbach over two legs to lift the 1973 UEFA Cup – the first time an English club had won both the league title and a European trophy in the same season.
Bill announced his surprise retirement from football a few weeks after Liverpool had won the 1974 FA Cup Final, and was succeeded by his long-time assistant Bob Paisley.
He led the Liverpool team out for the last time at Wembley for the 1974 FA Charity Shield, but had laid the foundations for a period of further dominance by Liverpool across England and Europe. He was duly awarded the OBE in November 1974.
Witty, erudite and humble, he was immortalised by his most famous quote: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
After he died in 1981 aged 68, his ashes were scattered on the Anfield pitch. The next year, the 15ft high cast-iron ‘Shankly Gates’ were erected in front of the Anfield Road Stand. A 7ft bronze statue was also erected in his memory outside the famous Kop end in 1997.
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