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Tuesday, May 18, 2010
After leaving St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School, Flint, in 1978, Rush began his playing career at Football League Third Division side Chester. After impressing in the youth ranks, he went on to play 34 League games and score 14 goals after making his debut in April 1979 in a 2–2 draw with Sheffield Wednesday in midfield, but established himself as a potent centre forward the following season. His first league goal came when Chester drew 2–2 at Gillingham on 15 September 1979 and by Christmas he was a regular player following the sale of regular centre-forward Ian Edwards to Wrexham.
Rush's reputation was enhanced by scoring for Chester in a shock 2–0 FA Cup third round win at Second Division giants Newcastle United in January 1980, with Chester equalling their best run by reaching the last 16 where they narrowly lost to Ipswich Town two rounds later. His last game for Chester was a 2–1 win over Southend United at Sealand Road on 26 April 1980 in which he did not score.
Despite interest from Manchester City, and in spite of Rush being a boyhood Everton fan, Liverpool won the race to sign the 18-year old in April 1980, though he had to remain at Chester until the end of the season as the transfer deadline (27 March 1980) had now passed.
Manager Bob Paisley paid a record fee for a teenager of £300,000. It remains Chester's record sale 29 years on.
Rush was managed throughout his time at Chester by Alan Oakes, although much of the credit for his development is given to youth manager Cliff Sear. Nearly 20 years later, Rush and Sear worked together on the coaching staff at Wrexham.
Rush had actually made his international debut, in May 1980, just before he officially became a Liverpool player. His Reds debut came on the 13 December that year in a First Division fixture at Portman Road against Ipswich Town. Ironically, he was standing in for his future strike-partner, Kenny Dalglish (at the time one of the most highly-rated strikers in the world), and wore his No 7 shirt. Midfielder Jimmy Case scored Liverpool's only goal in a 1–1 draw. At this stage, Liverpool were defending the league title and the League Cup, and also contending for the European Cup, while Ipswich were emerging as surprise title contenders. Ultimately, Liverpool disappointed in the league and finished fifth (with Aston Villa winning the title), but they did win the European Cup (for the third time) and the League Cup (for the first time).
Rush was used sporadically during his first season at the club as Liverpool had a policy of bringing in young talent and playing them in the reserves to learn 'the Liverpool way'. Rush was treated no differently and had to begin his time at the club as a squad member rather than being thrown into the first team.
This learning period was hard and not at all 'Rush-like', as the goals didn't flow, almost leading to the eager youngster leaving Anfield in the search of regular first-team football. But after a talk with the very shrewd Paisley, who told him to "be more selfish in front of goal", Rush decided to stay and fight for a place.
Rush's first goal for the club took time to arrive, but it eventually came on 30 September 1981 during a European Cup first round second leg tie at Anfield against Oulun Palloseura. Liverpool had already won the first leg at the Raatti Stadium 1–0, and the second leg proved to be a formality as they trounced the Finnish team 7–0, Rush scoring in the 67th minute after coming on three minutes earlier for David Johnson. He ended the season as the club's top scorer, netting 30 times in just 49 appearances in all competitions, a ratio of 1 goal every 1.6 games. 17 of these goals came in the League as he helped the Reds reclaim the League championship from holders Aston Villa. The title triumph was all the more impressive by the fact that Liverpool had entered 1982 in 10th place, with the likes of Manchester United and minnows Swansea City leading the pack then, before a turnaround in Liverpool's fortunes saw the league championship trophy return to Anfield after two years away. He also scored a goal to help Liverpool win the 1982 Football League Cup Final against Tottenham Hotspur.
He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1983 after inspiring Liverpool to a second successive First Division/League Cup double, though once again success eluded them in the European Cup. He scored 24 League goals as the Reds finished 11 points clear of runners-up Watford and were virtually uncontested in the title chase in the later part of the season. On 6 November 1982 Rush scored four goals against Everton in a 5–0 victory, a post-war record for goals by a single player in a Merseyside derby.
The League Cup (Liverpool's third successive triumph in this competition) was added through a 2–1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United after extra time at Wembley. He was voted PFA Player of the Year and BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 1984 as Liverpool retained both the League and the League Cup and won the European Cup to complete a unique treble that season. It was no surprise that Rush also added the Football Writers Footballer of the Year to the PFA award he had already claimed - the same feat that his strike partner Kenny Dalglish had achieved a year earlier.
He scored 47 goals in 65 games (making him the highest goalscorer in all competitions for any professional club that season), a goal every 1.4 matches, as Liverpool finished three points clear of closest rivals Southampton in the League, beat derby rivals Everton 1–0 in the replayed final of the League Cup (after a 0–0 draw in the first ever all-Merseyside final), and won their fourth European Cup by defeating AS Roma 4–2 on penalties (Rush made it 3–2 before Bruce Grobbelaar's famous 'jelly legs' antics) following a 1–1 draw after extra time.
The 1984–85 season was Liverpool's first trophyless season in ten years, though they did reach their fifth European Cup final against Juventus at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium. This final was to end in disaster as, before the match kicked off, rioting football hooligans caused a retaining wall to collapse, killing 39 Juventus supporters. It was only natural that this affected the players (including Rush), who surprisingly were ordered to play the final in spite of this terrible tragedy. The game, with both teams not totally committed or fully caring about the result, ended in a 1–0 win for Juventus. Liverpool were beaten to the title by neighbours Everton, who were crowned champions with four matches to spare. The sequel to the ban was an indefinite ban on all English clubs in European competition, with Liverpool set to serve an extra season once the ban was lifted on other English clubs. This meant that Rush and Liverpool were unable to compete in the 1985–86 UEFA Cup.
The 1985–86 season was much better for the Reds and Rush. He scored twice as Liverpool beat Southampton 2–0 in the FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane, booking a place at Wembley to face neighbours Everton in the first all-Merseyside FA Cup final. The Reds had just pipped their city rivals to the League title (which had also been contested with the likes of West Ham United and Manchester United) by beating Chelsea (another team who had given them a run for their money earlier in the title race) 1–0 at Stamford Bridge, so the already monumental final was doubly important for both sides. If the Reds won, it would make them the fifth team to have won the double (and only the third to have done so in the 20th century. If Everton won, not only would they stop their arch rivals from completing the double but also win the major trophy that their football had, in many eyes, deserved. The Blues opened the scoring when Gary Lineker outpaced Alan Hansen to shoot past Grobbelaar at the second attempt and held this lead until half-time as Liverpool struggled to find their usual rhythm.
But after the half-time team-talk by the now player/manager, Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool looked a different side in the second half. With Rush leading the line brilliantly, they drew level in the 57th minute when he latched onto a defence splitting pass from Jan Mølby to round Everton goalkeeper Bobby Mimms and slot the ball into an empty net. Six minutes later, Mølby was again at the heart of another attack. Picking the ball up inside the Everton penalty area, he gained a yard of space and drilled a perfect cross for Craig Johnston to score. Liverpool were now 2–1 up, but the game was in the balance until the 84th minute, when Ronnie Whelan led another attack. With the game stretched, he picked the ball up and drove towards the edge of the Everton area. Dalglish made a run across his path into space, but Whelan used it as a dummy and clipped an exquisite ball over three Everton defenders into the path of Rush who, from the angle of the six-yard area, thumped the ball past Mimms, knocking over a camera in the process. Liverpool held on to win 3–1 and completed the first (and so far only) League and FA Cup double in the club's history. Rush added the Man of the Match award to his winner's medal. However, the ban on English clubs in European competition was continued, and Rush was unable to have a crack of winning another European Cup in 1986–87.
Since Dalglish's appointment as player manager in the 1985 close season, Rush had often found himself partnered with Paul Walsh in the Liverpool first team as Dalglish selected himself as a player less frequently.
After attracting much interest from top European sides, Rush accepted an offer to sign for Italian club Juventus on 2 July 1986. However, he would continue to play at Liverpool for one season on loan before making his debut for Juventus. He was the second highest goalscorer in the Football League for the 1986-87 season with 30 First Division goals, but failed to win any major trophies as the Reds finished second to Everton in the league and lost to Arsenal in the League Cup final.
The move was seen by many as a deal to help the healing process after Heysel and to re-open friendly links between the clubs. Rush was one of many notable English-based players who moved abroad during the mid and late 1980s, attracted overseas by the prospect of the higher wages as well as the chance to play in European competition as English clubs were still barred.
However it was viewed, it was a new challenge for Rush, who would have the task of unlocking the much tighter defences in Serie A. Unfortunately, his time at Juventus was less than successful, as he scored only eight times in 29 games. He had a hard time settling in Turin, once allegedly remarking, "It's like living in a foreign country." However in his autobiography Rush says that this was a joke made up by Kenny Dalglish, then in an interview published in The Irish Times in 2008, claimed that the quote was in fact fictional.
After just one season at the Stadio Comunale, he returned to Anfield, rejoining Liverpool for £2.7m on 18 August 1988 – a record signing for an English club at the time, which remained unbroken for three years. It was the third time that summer that the national transfer record had been broken.
The news of Rush's imminent return was given to Liverpool fans before they journeyed south to London for yet another Charity Shield match. Before the game started, they were in full voice. However, this time they had a new song: "Rushie is back, Rushie is back".
Although the Liverpool team of 1987–88 had played some outstanding football, such was Ian's stature amongst the Anfield faithful, they were pleased to see him return to the club.
Rush's departure from Liverpool had sparked the acquisition of new strikers John Aldridge (whose physical resemblance to Rush was often remarked upon) and Peter Beardsley, and on his return to the Liverpool side he was partnered alongside these players to form a 4–3–3 formation. Rush's former strike partner Kenny Dalglish (who had been appointed player-manager in 1985) was still registered as a player but now he was in his 37th year and rarely played in the first team, retiring completely in 1990.
Rush published a diary of his frustrating time in Italy titled My Italian Diary, 1989. In it, he reflected on his struggles to integrate himself in the dressing room at Juventus and adapt to the Italian style of play.
Second spell at Anfield, 1988–1996
Rush had serious competition for the striking berth alongside Peter Beardsley and John Aldridge, who came to Anfield as a replacement for Rush. It was deemed that the pair were too similar in style to be able to play together. Aldridge started the season in front of Rush and consistently scored goals, thus keeping the Welshman on the bench. As the season progressed, Rush came into some form. Rush had again scored twice against Everton in a thrilling 3–2 win in the 1989 FA Cup Final. He came off the bench to replace Aldridge, who had opened the scoring for Liverpool in the fourth minute of the game. The sides were locked at 1–1 after 90 minutes, but Rush put the Reds ahead in the fourth minute of extra time. Everton midfielder Stuart McCall then scored his, and the Toffees', second equaliser, but Rush came up with the goods once more with an incisive finish in the 103rd minute to win the Cup for Liverpool.
The 1989 FA Cup Final carried even greater significance because of the events of 15 April that year. In the semi-final, Liverpool had been drawn against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday. However, the game was brought to an abrupt end at 3.06pm due to the unfolding disaster. 94 fans were crushed to death that day, with the final death toll eventually reaching 96. Rush, along with his teammates, attended many of the funerals.
Rush featured in the 1989 League title decider against Arsenal at Anfield. The Gunners needed to win by a two goal margin to become champions, with a last minute Michael Thomas goal famously giving them the title. Rush was injured during the first half of the game and had to be replaced by Peter Beardsley.
At the end of that season, UEFA voted for the ban on English teams in European competitions to continue for at least one more season, meaning that Rush and his team-mates would be unable to challenge for the Cup Winners' Cup.
The players and staff of Liverpool Football Club, including Rush, were commended for their exemplary behaviour during the darkest days in the club's history. Everton fans were immensely supportive of their neighbours during this bleak period and the fact that Liverpool would meet their side in the Wembley final made for the perfect match. The fans once again stood side by side in their blue and red colours and did the city and people of Liverpool proud, as did the players and officials of both clubs.
The 1989–90 season saw Rush win another League title, his fifth and last, as Liverpool finished nine points clear of Aston Villa, with Rush scoring 18 times in 36 games. However, another bid for the League-FA Cup double failed as the Reds suffered a shock FA Cup semi-final defeat to Crystal Palace, even though Rush had given the Reds the lead with a goal in the 14th minute. The game ended in a 4–3 defeat, even more incredible considering that Liverpool had crushed the newly promoted South Londoners 9–0 in a league game earlier in the season.
Although the ban on English clubs in European competition was lifted for the 1990–91 season, Liverpool were unable to compete in the 1990–91 European Cup as UEFA ruled that they would have to serve an extra year.
1990–91 saw Rush continue to score regularly and Liverpool led the table from the start of the season until January, but they were then overhauled by Arsenal and on 22 February 1991 Dalglish announced his resignation as manager. He was replaced by Graeme Souness but the change of manager was not enough to prevent the league title from slipping away from Anfield. Shortly after Dalglish's resignation, Liverpool were eliminated from the FA Cup in the fifth round by neighbours Everton, seeing their double hopes eliminated for the fourth season running (though this time at a much earlier stage).
However, Liverpool finished second and were finally readmitted to European competition, qualifying for the UEFA Cup and giving Rush and his team-mates their first chance of European action since 1984–85.
In 1992, he picked up a third FA Cup winners' medal, scoring Liverpool's second goal, in the 67th minute, in the 2–0 win against Second Division Sunderland at Wembley. This gave Rush and his colleagues another chance of European football, this time in the shape of the Cup Winners' Cup.
In the League, injuries restricted him to just 18 League games and three goals that season. However, his third goal came in a crucial 2–0 home win over Manchester United on 26 April 1992 which denied their arch-rivals the championship, the title going instead to Leeds United. Incredibly, this was his only ever goal past Manchester United in his whole career. Liverpool managed only a sixth place finish in the league that season, the first time since 1981 that they had not finished champions or runners-up.
1992–93 was perhaps Liverpool's hardest season since beginning their current top flight tenure in 1962. They failed to mount a challenge for the new Premier League title, and as late as March they stood 15th in the table. Dismal form in the league had seen Rush dropped from the first eleven, with Souness favouring the likes of Ronny Rosenthal and Paul Stewart, but Rush returned to his peak during the final weeks of the season and he finished the season as the club's top scorer with 14 league goals. He topped the goalscoring charts once again in 1993–94, beginning the season with Nigel Clough as his strike-partner until the brilliant young Robbie Fowler broke into the first team. It was another disappointing season for Liverpool, however, as they continue to perform unremarkably in the Premier League and manager Graeme Souness stepped down in late January following a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Bristol City. Long-serving coach Roy Evans took over as manager. Liverpool finished eighth in the league, once again missing out on European competition.
Rush picked up his fifth League Cup winners medal in 1995, when two goals from Steve McManaman ended Bolton Wanderers' dreams of a shock result, Liverpool running out 2–1 winners. Earlier in the competition Rush scored a hat trick as Liverpool beat Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, the team who would go on to win the Premier League that season. Liverpool themselves achieved their best league finish since 1991, as they finished fourth in the Premier League.
The 1995 close season saw Liverpool pay a national record fee of £8.4million for Nottingham Forest striker Stan Collymore, putting Rush's future at Anfield under serious doubt. However, he began the season as Liverpool's first choice striker alongside Collymore, only to surrender his place in the first eleven to Robbie Fowler as the season wore on.
In March 1996, it was announced that Rush would be leaving Anfield on a free transfer when his contract expired on 1 June.
His long association with the Reds ended with a substitute appearance in the 1996 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. A hugely disappointing game looked to be heading for extra time and even a replay until Eric Cantona popped up with a late winner to give the Old Trafford side a 1–0 victory. Sadly Ian Rush's last touch of the ball in a Liverpool shirt was when it bounced off his shoulder to set Eric Cantona up for his winning goal.
Later career, 1996–2000
Rush said farewell to Anfield on 20 May 1996 when he agreed to sign for Leeds United. Rush spent a season with the Yorkshire side but scored just three times in 36 Premier League games and was given a free transfer at the end of the 1996–97 campaign. These were the last league goals of his career in English football.
He had been brought to Elland Road by manager Howard Wilkinson, who was sacked a month into the season to be replaced by George Graham.
He then linked up with Kenny Dalglish at Newcastle United on a one year contract but lost his place in the side after Christmas, when Alan Shearer returned from a long-term injury. However, Rush did score an important goal in a 1–0 win over Everton in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, his 43rd in the competition (a 20th century record). He scored one other goal for Newcastle in a League Cup tie with Hull City.
He had a loan spell with Sheffield United later in the season, before leaving St James's Park in the summer of 1998 to sign, amid much fanfare, for Wrexham. The 37-year-old Rush failed to score in 18 Division Two starts for the North Wales club, and was moved into midfield towards the end of the season. He made a brief playing comeback with Sydney Olympic in Australia, scoring one goal in two games, before finally retiring, aged 39, in 2000.
Chester manager, 2004–2005
After working as a part-time striker's coach for Liverpool under Gerard Houllier in 2003, he was appointed manager of his first professional club, Chester City (by this time in Football League Two), in August 2004. Chester had made a dreadful start to their first season back in the Football League but Rush had a hard time at their time at the helm. After losing 3–1 at Boston United in their first game in charge, they strung together a two month unbeaten run and led the club to the FA Cup third round. Rush seemed to be answering his critics, including former Liverpool team-mate Mark Lawrenson, who doubted whether his tactical and coaching abilities could match his striking history.
But after Rush ruled himself out of the running for the vacant Welsh manager's job on 1 November 2004 things never seemed to go as well. Several heavy defeats were inflicted and Rush was criticised for the physical and long-ball tactics his managerial team opted to use. Despite pressure from chairman Stephen Vaughan, Rush refused to resign after a humiliating 5–0 loss to neighbours Shrewsbury Town in February 2005. But when Vaughan sacked Aizlewood in April (after a 1–0 defeat at Darlington), Rush resigned on principle. By the point of his resignation, Chester were virtually safe from relegation. His spell in charge saw youngsters such as Robbie Booth, Michael Walsh and Shaun Whalley all given their Football League debuts, while players including Michael Brown, George Elokobi and Robbie Foy all spent time on loan at the club.
Rush was interviewed for the Peterborough United manager's job shortly after this but lost out to Mark Wright, who had played in the same Liverpool team as Rush from 1991 to 1996, and had preceded Rush as Chester manager.
Media career and other activities, 2005 to present
In 2005, at the age of 43, Ian Rush considered coming out of retirement to play for TNS, after the Welsh side were drawn against Liverpool for their opening round Champions League qualifying match, but later decided against this.
Since November 2005, Ian Rush has been involved in media work within the game, including a stint as an analyst with ESPN. He also appears as a pundit and reporter for Sky Sports and Sky Sports News. he has also done work on LFCTV
On 27 April 2006, Rush was involved in the Marina Dalglish charity match, which pitted the 1986 FA Cup final teams of Liverpool and Everton against each other in aid of Breast Cancer Research, as Kenny Dalglish's wife Marina had been suffering from breast cancer and the proceeds from the match were being donated to the charity.
Rush was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 due to his achievements in the game.
Ian can still be seen wearing the red of Liverpool as he regularly appears for the Masters five-a-side team and as one of Liverpool's 'old boys' on public relations tours for the club.
On 7 September 2007 it was announced that Rush had been appointed Elite Performance Director for the Welsh Football Trust, a part-time role in which he will help develop the next generation of players for Wales' national teams.
Rush released his autobiography on 21 August 2008, Rush: The Autobiography, through Ebury Press.
On the 26th of April 2010, it was announced that Rush has returned to work with Liverpool F.C., becoming the Club's new Soccer Schools Ambassador and it was announced he will also work with the Club's commercial team to help develop and support partnerships with other global sponsors and brands.
Rush made his Welsh debut before he had been handed his first start for Liverpool, playing his first match on 21 May 1980 against Scotland. Rush played regularly for the Welsh national team scoring a record 28 goals in 73 games.
Unfortunately during his career the team never qualified for a major tournament, although in 1991 he scored the winning goal in a memorable Euro 92 qualifier against Germany. Wales would narrowly miss out on qualifying for the finals, as happened during Rush's career for World Cups in 1982, 1986 and 1994 and Euro 88. This puts him in a group with other football legends such as George Best and fellow Welshman Ryan Giggs to have never played in a major international tournament.
Another famous international winner by Rush was in a friendly against Italy in Brescia in June 1988. After a largely disappointing year in Italy, Rush helped silence his critics by bagging the only goal as Wales claimed a shock 1–0 win.
Club performance League Cup Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup Total
1978–79 Chester City Third Division 1 0 0 0 1 0
1979–80 33 14 5 3 38 18
1980–81 Liverpool First Division 7 0 0 0 9 0
1981–82 32 17 3 3 49 30
1982–83 34 24 3 2 51 31
1983–84 41 32 2 2 65 47
1984–85 28 14 6 7 44 26
1985–86 40 22 8 6 56 33
1986–87 42 30 3 0 57 40
Italy League Coppa Italia Total
1987–88 Juventus Serie A 29 7 6 5 35 12
England League FA Cup Total
1988–89 Liverpool First Division 24 7 2 3 32 11
1989–90 36 18 8 6 48 26
1990–91 37 16 7 5 48 26
1991–92 18 4 5 1 31 9
1992–93 Premier League 32 14 1 1 42 22
1993–94 42 14 2 1 49 19
1994–95 36 12 7 1 50 19
1995–96 20 5 4 1 29 7
1996–97 Leeds United Premier League 36 3 5 0 43 3
1997–98 Newcastle United Premier League 10 0 1 1 13 2
1997–98 Sheffield United First Division 4 0 0 0 4 0
1998–99 Wrexham Second Division 17 0 4 0 23 0
Australia League Cup Total
1999-00 Sydney Olympic National Soccer League 2 1 0 0 2 1
Total England 570 246 80 48 782 369
Italy 29 7 6 5 35 12
Australia 2 1 0 0 2 1
Career Total 601 254 86 53 819 382
1983 PFA Young Player of the Year
1984 PFA Players' Player of the Year
1984 FWA Footballer of the Year
1984 European Golden Boot
Second highest FA Cup scorer of all time, and highest in 20th century FA Cup with 44 goals (39 for Liverpool, 4 for Chester City, 1 for Newcastle United). Only Henry "Harry" Cursham of Notts County scored more – 49 goals between 1877 and 1888.
Record FA Cup Final goalscorer with 5 goals.
Joint record League Cup goalscorer with 49 goals (48 for Liverpool), shared with Sir Geoff Hurst.
First player to pick up 5 League Cup winners medals.
Record Welsh international goalscorer with 28 goals.
Record Liverpool goalscorer with 346 goals.
Third top goalscorer in League football for Liverpool with 229 goals, behind Roger Hunt (245 goals) and Gordon Hodgson (233 goals).
Record Merseyside derby goalscorer with 25 goals for Liverpool against Everton.
Record transfer sale for Chester City (£300,000).