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He came to Liverpool as a striker and was initially a bit disappointing in that role, especially when compared with John Toshack. Bob Paisley turned him into one of the best midfielders in Europe and, according to Paisley, was the player who attracted most interest from continental clubs. I saw most of his games at Anfield and, once he had settled in, I don't think I saw him have a bad game. He was a lot more consistent than the more glamourous players, Dalglish and Souness, and was highly influential in the success that Liverpool had during his time at the club.

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Graeme Souness: I looked at Ray Kennedy and knew everything would be alright – he should be considered a great of the English game

Liverpool legend pays tribute to his former team-mate and expresses sadness that the game didn’t do more to help him when he fought Parkinson’s in his later life

Graeme Souness

Tuesday November 30 2021, 7.00pm, The Times




Ray Kennedy was one of the most underrated players I played with, a man that you looked at in the dressing room before a big game and instinctively knew you would be all right. The European Cup semi-final of 1981 is a great example — nobody gave us a prayer away to Bayern Munich in their stadium until Razor put us in front inside the final ten minutes.

He was always a man for the big occasion. I remember watching him when I was still an apprentice at Tottenham Hotspur, scoring the winning goal against us at White Hart Lane to clinch the title for Arsenal in the last league game of the 1970-71 season when they went on to do the Double. I remember clearly thinking then, “I want to be him, a young player in the first team, winning things.” Ray loved his clothes and was always immaculate, a big, handsome man with that sallow skin he had.

He was a striker then and Bill Shankly’s final signing for Liverpool in 1974, for a club record £200,000. It was a stroke of genius by Bob Paisley later to convert him into a goalscoring midfielder.

I was the poor relation when it came to scoring beside Ray, Terry McDermott and Jimmy Case in that midfield, which was definitely the best in terms of goals that I played in at Liverpool. I was the odd man out by not getting into double figures. We had Jimmy on one side, Terry scoring close to 20 goals and Razor getting about 15. It wasn’t just about Kenny Dalglish and Dave Johnson up front.

They also all did the hard yards the other way to support the defence. When we won the title in my first full season at the club we conceded just 16 goals in 42 league games and only four of them at Anfield.


Ray wasn’t brilliant at anything, but he was very good at everything. He never gave the ball away, was a threat on the far post, and he had a silky touch and intelligence.

People don’t regard him as one, but we have to talk about him as a great of the English game. After all these years, I still can’t tell you if he was naturally right or left-footed because he was so good with both.


Ray made bad balls into good balls. If your head was down and you dropped it somewhere into the area of the far post on the left-hand side, he’d make your dodgy pass look like a really good one because of his anticipation, his timing, his power, his bravery and his determination to go and make that ball look good. When you talk about people scoring goals on the far post, he epitomised that because of his physique and football brain.

Ray and Jimmy were incredibly close, through thick and thin. Ray was the senior member of that partnership and Jimmy was his partner in crime. Ray had been around the block and Jimmy was his apprentice, but he loved Ray and learned quickly from a good teacher. Ray had a dry sense of humour and nobody was keen to take him on in the banter stakes. It wasn’t just that he could cut you dead with a one-liner, he also had a serious, forbidding side to him and people were wary of that because he was a big powerful man with a real physical presence about him.

I’d have loved to have him in my teams when I later became a manager. When I went to Newcastle United, I saw more of him and it saddened me to see how Parkinson’s had robbed him of his quality of life.

The PFA should have done much more for him than it did because it made him a shadow of the man I played with.

My great sadness is that he lost half his life to that awful condition — after having achieved so much before it affected him.

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14 hours ago, Biblio said:

John Sillett, former manager of Coventry City, also died today making it a very sad day for football. What he did for Coventry in the 1987 FA Cup was amazing and I am sure he will never be forgotten by the club's fans.

He and his brother Peter played over 360 games for Chelsea between them and both won a first division winners medal in 1954. Sadly missed the both.  

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