Ian Callaghan

  • Date of Birth: 3/4/51
  • Birthplace: Liverpool
  • Nationality: English
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Signed 1960
  • Debut 16/4/60
  • Appearances 857
  • Goals 68
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No one has played more games for Liverpool than Ian Callaghan. Chances are, no one ever will.

Cally wore a Liver bird on his chest a remarkable 857 times during 18 years at the club.

There can be no better role model for aspiring footballers than a midfielder who represented everything that's good about the game.

A true gentleman in every sense of the word, the Toxteth boy was the only player to survive Liverpool's fairy-tale journey from life as a mediocre Second Division outfit to the lofty summit of European football.

Along the way he won almost every honour possible, including the highest respect from his fellow professionals and the adulation of the fans, and was booked just once.

Cally initially joined the Reds as an apprentice and made his senior debut after just four outings for the reserves. The momentous occasion came in April 1960 at home to Bristol Rovers.

If that wasn't daunting enough, he also faced the added pressure of replacing Liverpool idol Billy Liddell. But while other youngsters may have buckled in such circumstances, the fresh-faced 17-year-old turned in a performance that belied his tender years and was deservedly applauded off at the end by both teams, the crowd and the referee!

It signalled the start of a remarkable career that can be divided into two distinct sections: the first as a winger, the second in the middle of the park.

Fast, direct and possessing incredible stamina, it was during the promotion winning campaign of 1961-62 that he became an established first-team regular and it was his pinpoint crossing that supplied many a goal for the prolific strike partnership of Hunt and St John.

Cally was one of the first names on Bill Shankly's teamsheets as League and FA Cup glory came Liverpool's way during the heady years of the mid to late Sixties.

However, a cartilage operation meant he missed a large chunk of the 1970-71 season and his long-term future at the club was considered to be in jeopardy.

Thankfully he came back fighting fit and the evergreen Callaghan was given a new lease of life in a central midfield role, confounding any doubters by raising his game to an even higher standard.

A tireless worker with bags of energy, he peaked in 1973-74 - a campaign in which he notched his one and only senior hat-trick, overtook Billy Liddell's record of 492 Liverpool appearances, helped the Reds to a second FA Cup success and became the first Anfield player to win the Football Writers' Player of the Year award.

If that was not enough, he was then recognised in the New Year Honours list with an MBE for services to the game.

Cally's remarkable longevity meant he was still an important part of the team when Europe was conquered for the first time in 1977, an emotional occasion for a man who'd played in the club's first game in continental competition 13 years earlier.

At 35, there was still one final chapter to the fairytale: a surprising recall to the England squad 11 years after last featuring during the early stages of the 1966 World Cup.

Despite all his success, the self-effacing Callaghan never changed and walked out of the Anfield dressing room for the final time in 1978 as the same affable individual who had joined the club for a £10 signing-on fee all those years before.

He left with an envious medal collection, a glowing reputation and a total number of appearances that is unlikely to ever be surpassed. Who said nice guys don't win?

Other clubs:
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (USA - on loan) Swansea, Canberra City (on loan), Cork, Crewe

Past Players