LFChistory.net has been fortunate enough to gain exclusive access to LFC.tv’s “60 minutes” interviews in text-format. These in-depth interviews are taped in LFC.tv’s studios and are only on offer to LFC fans who have bought an e-season ticket.
LFChistory.net has transcribed LFC.tv’s interview with the greatest goalscorer in Liverpool’s history, Ian Rush.
How was it to grow up in a large household?
Very difficult. There was ten of us. We had a council house. People say how did they manage to find space on a football pitch, but believe me it was easy compared to finding space in our house with 5 brothers and 4 sisters. It was just a working class family upbringing, I was the second youngest and all my brothers tell me I was the lucky one, because it was a lot harder for them and now I believe that.
Were you from a big footballing family?
Yes, All the brothers were very good local players and one of my brothers had trials with Cardiff and Leeds United. I was playing football with my brothers who were 3-4 years older than myself.
How were you like as a student?
Not very good. I just loved football. I loved sport. Being in Wales we had to play rugby as well as football and we got told in no uncertain terms that if you don’t play rugby you will not be able to play football. As I was quite fast then I was picked for the rugby team as well which I didn’t enjoy as much as football. I did play for North Wales rugby team and I was asked to go for trials for Wales, but I didn’t go cause it was at the same time as football. Luckily enough I was at Chester at the time and they told the school they wanted me involved in football so I managed to get out of that.
Who did you pretend to be while playing at the schoolground. Who was your idol?
I actually supported Everton when I was a kid. Bob Latchford was playing for Everton and he got 30 goals a season. It was a big thing about it as one of the newspapers were offering 10-20,000 pounds for any player who got 30 goals. Bob Latchford done that. I was in Glawdys street when he done it. They won 6-2 and I think he got two goals. He was my hero. He was in the penalty box and he knew where the goal was and I always pretended to try to be him.
How did your move to Chester come about?
I had trials for Burnley, Wrexham and Chester. Cliff Sear was the youth team manager at Chester. At Burnley and Wrexham there were always about 20-30 people there. At Chester they only ever invited like 5 people. Even when I was 14 I was training with the reserves and sometimes some of the first team. After that Cliff Sear would take you for a meal and then put you on the bus to go back home. They treated me just like family. When I was relaxed I was able to play my true football. At Wrexham and Burnley there were so many people and so many personalities when you have got 30-40 people there. At that time I was really shy. Maybe they didn’t get the best of my ability when I was at Burnley and Wrexham. Cliff Sear knew what I was like and he got the best out of me.
Is is true that you made your debut as a central midfielder?
Allan Oakes, who was the player-manager decided to step down. He played left midfield. He wanted to give my debut in left midfield. It was against Sheffield Wednesday which had just been promoted in that league. To play in that game was absolutely fantastic for me cause Sheffield Wednesday brought a big crowd. 6,000 was big for me. I didn’t really get a lot of the ball, but at the end of the game Allan Oakes said there is a lot more to come from that. He was trying to get me the experience of getting involved in what’s in like in first-team football for Chester.
Were you aware of Liverpool’s presence at the games?
Yes, I was a lot of times, but I knew they had been there to watch me. There was talk of me going to Manchester City because Allan Oakes had played for Manchester City. I was reading newspaper reports saying Liverpool and Man City are in for you. I was wondering why it was not Everton to tell you the truth. I thought I was going to Manchester City, but Malcolm Allison came and didn’t really fancy me. Gordon Lee at Everton came to watch me and didn’t really fancy me. Tom Saunders and Bob Paisley came to see me and they must have seen something different. I thought: ‘Do I give it a chance?’ When they did come in for me I turned them down first time. People ask me why I turned them down. Partly confidence but mainly I didn’t think I was good enough to play at that level. When I was a kid I set my sights on playing for Chester. If I play there until 34-35 then I’ll go on and get a normal job. I was happy playing at Chester and didn’t set my sights a lot higher.
Bob Paisley invited Allan Oakes and my dad, who was a Liverpool supporter, and myself, in April 1980 to sort of come round and look at it. Bob Paisley took us from the ground in his car to Melwood. Brought us back. He was so down to earth. He was just ignoring the likes of Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Hansen coming in. He called them “the bigheads” and would look after me and go and talk to the dinner ladies and people like that. That was how Bob Paisley was like. It was like a family club and he gave that impression to me. ‘Were all in this together. It doesn’t matter who you are or why you are, we’re all the same.’
With that I decided to give it a go. Allan Oakes always said to me: ‘The first year at Liverpool you’ll hate it, but after that it will be best time you’ve had in your life.’ He said also: ‘If you don’t make it, you can always go back to Chester.’ That was a major factor why I decided to give it a go at Liverpool.
If you didn’t make it as a football, what would you have done?
Anything to do with sport. P.E. teacher or something like that. I just love sport. Maybe the rugby then would come into it. I had to be outdoors. Even with the job I do now I must do some office work, but I would have found it very very difficult to be indoors when I was 18-19 years-old.
How much do you think you would be worth in today’s transfer market? Be honest.
At the end of the day when you finish playing football you can be honest. As a teenager for 300,000. It was a world record then. People are now paying 5-6 million for kids so I’d have to put myself in that bracket. When I signed for Liverpool you’d be in the reserves for a year to learn your trade. 18-year-olds now they come in and sign for 6, 8, 10 million and expect to go straight in the side. It doesn’t happen. You need time to adapt to it. Kids get frustrated now because they had paid a lot of money for them but they’ve still got to learn their trade whether it’s in the reserves or the first-team training. You shouldn’t be expected to go straight in the side at an early age.
A lot of Liverpool reserves I played with didn’t get that chance, but then they were snapped up by every other club because they knew what it was like at Liverpool. If you had been at Liverpool for a year or two they knew you had the right qualities and right ideas from the football club.
What do you remember from your debut?
My debut was against Ipswich Town wearing the number 7 shirt. Kenny Dalglish was injured. I wasn’t expecting it. I was only signed in April. I started pre-season with them in the summer. It was December. On the Thursday I trained with the first-team and after training Ronnie Moran came to me and said ‘Bring your stuff in.’ We had to get the train down there as we were playing Ipswich away. ‘You’ll be travelling with the first team.’ I thought maybe I was 13th or 14th man travelling for the experience. After training on a Friday Bob Paisley told me I was playing. I was playing up front with David Johnson. After about 20 minutes David Johnson gets injured. I am up front by myself as David Johnson is getting carried off. Luckily enough Sammy Lee was a good friend of mine and looked after me. Bob Paisley sent Sammy Lee on to play up front so I ended up playing the game up front with Sammy Lee. We drew one all and it was a great experience. Maybe the game passed me too quickly.
Do you have any superstitions?
We played Luton Town and my boots were rock hard. They were completely different to what they are now. I basically went and wet them in the bath. I noticed them softening up so I softened my boots up there. I went out and scored five goals. We beat Luton 6-0. Every game since then I wet my boots before the game.
What do you remember from your four goals at Goodison?
I remember that like it was yesterday. It was incredible. I remember Bob Paisley saying to me: ‘Do you know that no one has scored a hat-trick in a Merseyside derby for about 40-50 years?’ Looking at it now he was putting it in my mind that there was the chance for you to do it because he knew with my pace and they playing high-line that there was a chance for me to do it. When I scored the first goal, Alan Hansen played it through to me and I saw Neville Southall coming out and ‘I think I’ll put it through his legs.’ It was a fantastic feeling. I was an Everton supporter as a kid. The first time I scored in a derby we won 3-1 at Anfield and obviously living in Wales I didn’t know what it meant to the red half and blue half in Merseyside. That time I did. I knew what it was like and it was absolutely incredible when you score four goals against Everton. That’s why supporters do love you for that.
My dad was always a red. My brother was Everton. Cause you’re playing for Liverpool they want you to do well. A good story about that was I had two mates on the pitch playing for Everton, Neville Southall and Kevin Ratcliffe. At that time I was banned from driving. I was banned for speeding for three months. Kevin Ratcliffe took me home. Kevin lived in Wales by me. I had the match ball and we came out together. Kevin Ratcliffe got more stick from the Everton supporters than I did. Because they said ‘What are you doing taking him home?’ I actually said to Kevin, ‘Do us a favour, could you get the Everton players to sign that?’ I can’t repeat what he said to me. The following week he refused to take me, so I had to get the train or have my brother to take me.
How you do feel about that Liverpool supporters still sing about that day?
It’s fantastic for me. I’ve got two boys now, 18 and 14. They weren’t around then when it happened. But for them to still sing my name on the Kop like that just goes to show how they feel when they beat Everton. Against Everton and Manchester United they want to do well against. It’s fantastic when they sing your name and I feel very proud. Even when I’ve been in the stands and they’re singing my name, people turning round to me you feel a bit embarrassed in a way, but I feel very proud that they still remember. Most of the people who sing my name weren’t around when I scored the four. It’s come from the parents.
Your toughest opponents
Toughest one are two really. In Italy Franco Baresi was a very good player. He wasn’t the quickest, but his reading of the game was fantastic. In Italy he was the toughest defender. The one in England had to be Paul McGrath. He played for Manchester United and played for Aston Villa. He was a fantastic defender. I think it was about 16-17 games before I scored against Manchester United. When I did score I think Paul McGrath was at Aston Villa so I realise he was a special player and he was a very honest player. At the end of every game he used to come up and thank me for playing. He was quick, he could tackle and could do anything.
Was the FA cup final in 1986 the best day of your career?
I would have to say that. People ask me about my best goals and everything, but I like to put everything into perspective. It was the year we had done the double. I dreamed as a kid winning the FA Cup final. It was against Everton. You’re losing 1-0 at half-time and you go on to win 3-1. To score two goals in that game was like everything rolled into one. It was incredible for me. That’s one where I can say I didn’t go to bed that night. It was absolutely a fantastic feeling. For me Liverpool and Everton were the two best sides in Europe then. They were absolutely fantastic. We just won the League the week before when Kenny scored that great goal at Chelsea and we went in there with confidence.
How did the move to Juventus come about?
Basically after the ’86 final. They were there watching me. Playing for Wales, we’d failed to qualify in 1982, 1984 and 1986 for the Euros and the World cup finals twice. I was frustrated as well then and when I got asked would I be interested in Italy you say yes in a way, because you don’t know what to expect. When you say that, it goes to another stage. It got to the stage where Barcelona were interested, Roma, Juventus and Bayern Munich. I decided to go to Italy because all the best players in the world then were all playing in Italy. Diego Maradona, Michel Platini and people like that. I decided to go and give it a chance because I had not qualified with Wales. People ask me, ‘did you go there because of financially?’ Yes, financially was a major factor. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a major factor because I could secure me and my family for life.
The Juventus supporters were fantastic with me. They treat you like a hero over there. That’s how the times have changed now. If I went into the Liverpool dressing room and told them I was the best player in the world you’d get absolutely slaughtered because we’re all into teams. In Italy I was saying ‘It’s a team game and everything’, but really what I should have done was go in there and tell them I was the best player in the world. Rush of Juventus; the Maradona of Napoli and Ruud Gullit of Milan. It was a different culture which was a shock to me. When you played well you had to take the glory which at Liverpool we didn’t do. It was a team game. That was probably the biggest culture shock about playing in Italy. In Italy it’s all about first impressions. Even though I could speak a little bit of Italian I’d go the other way. I didn’t have the confidence to speaking it at the time. It was a fantastic experience.
The return to Liverpool
I got chicken pox and hepatitis c and I couldn’t go back to pre-season training in Turin. A week later they made me go back and I went into the mountains in Switzerland to do pre-season training. I wanted another season to prove what I was good at. Also the change of managers then. Rino Marchesi had gone and Dino Zoff had come in as manager. He was much better for me. He’s seen my side and knew what to do to accomodate me. The owner of the club, Mr. Agnelli, was asking me what to do. I told him to be successful you’d need three of the same country. Just look at Milan. They have three Dutch players: Van Basten, Rikjaard and Gullit who had been successful. So in fairness to Agnelli he tried to get two English players, from Liverpool as well! Steve McMahon, Peter Beardsley, Ray Houghton and also Graeme Sharp at Everton. I told him any two of them I’d be well happy with. Kenny said no to them. When the chance come to come back to Liverpool there was quite a lot of people who phoned me to come back. Alex Ferguson rang me, Colin Harvey, who was the manager of Everton, rang me, the Bayern Munich manager rang me and also the Roma manager.
At the end of the day the relationship Liverpool had with Juventus, they said basically: ‘You go back to Liverpool or you stay here.’ I said: ‘Ok, I’m happy where I am’, but the next day Kenny rang me and within half an hour Graeme Souness at Rangers rang me and asked me to go back there. I really got on with both of them, but Kenny’s persuasion got me back to Liverpool. ‘You’re coming back on a plane tomorrow’ and this was about 4 o’clock in the evening. It was the only deal in Italy done by phone because nine o’clock next morning I was on a plane coming back to Manchester simply because of Kenny. Kenny picked me up from Manchester airport and the next thing I was at Anfield at a press conference.
Describe Ian Rush in three words
Hard-working, respectful and just goalscorer.
Copyright – LFC.tv – transcription by LFChistory.net