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Celebrating Sir Kenny Dalglish

Date: 11th June 2018

It was announced over the weekend that footballing legend Kenny Dalglish would be honoured by the Queen and he’ll become Sir Kenny Dalglish.

It’s well overdue.

Not many Scottish players can say they were world class but Kenny can. He then became a very successful manager, winning four top flight titles in England. Plus he’s a hugely generous charity ambassador.

As a footballer, Kenny was sensational both at Celtic and Liverpool. Between the two British giants, Dalglish won ten league titles. He’d also managed to win three European Cups whilst in the famous Liverpool Red.

The Glaswegian learned from the best and was able to call the likes of Jock Stein, Bill Shankley and Bob Paisley boss. He was quick to dedicate his honour to the men that helped shape his career and his life:

“All I can say from my own point of view is that I am definitely no more deserving of an accolade like this than Jock Stein, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley were.”

“I am just fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and I would like to dedicate this honour to them because without the standards that they set at Glasgow Celtic and Liverpool, individuals like myself would not have been able to thrive as much as we did.”

Kenny had a wonderful first touch, great vision and importantly he was a hard-working team player.

He was such a smart and clinical finisher, he would end his career with over 330 goals to his name. The ball hitting the net would usually be followed by a huge grin and his arms raised skyward.

Now I’m not old enough to remember Kenny Dalglish in his playing prime but you just need to look at old footage of him to see he was definitely a world class talent.

I urge anyone of my generation or younger to speak to people who are old enough to see him in his best years. My grandfather and my father-in-law would state just how good a player he was and how skilful and exciting he was.

In 2011, I was lucky enough to interview Sean Fallon. For those that don’t know, Mr Fallon was Jock Stein’s number two during the sixties and seventies when Celtic were almost an unstoppable force.

Well it was Sean who had spotted a young Kenny and who convinced the youngster to join Celtic. Dalglish at the time lived just opposite Ibrox Stadium and his dad was a huge Rangers fan. But Fallon was quickly able to convince Kenny his future lay at Parkhead.

Sean’s face lit up when talking about Kenny Dalgish and he mentioned that he had plenty of skill, had confidence in his own ability and was a born winner. More importantly, Mr Fallon said that he was a ‘nice boy’ and it was great to see him doing so well and that he deserved it.

For Scotland, Dalglish’s still has the record for most caps receive by a player (102). He along with fellow legendary striker Denis Law share the accolade of being Scotland’s top scorers with thirty goals each.

As a manager (firstly as a player-manager), Kenny most successful period came at the start.
He was offered the role after Joe Fagan resigned in May 1985. He remained there for just under six years, winning three league titles and two FA Cups.

He was able to get the players to take him seriously as the boss and kept the winning tradition going at the club he dearly loved.

After Liverpool, the Scotsman ended up taking the reigns at Blackburn Rovers just as the Premier League era began.

In the first two seasons of the new top flight set-up no one could touch Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United side. It was his fellow Glaswegian in the form of Dalglish that would break the run as he guided a very good Rovers side to the title in 1995.

At Blackburn Rovers, with the help of Jack Warner’s money, he had a strong and entertaining side that had the likes of Tim Flowers, Graeme Le Saux, Colin Hendry, Tim Sherwood, David Batty, Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer in it. Shearer scored thirty-four league goals during that campaign as Blackburn celebrated their first league title since 1914!

Incredibly after guiding his team to glory, Dalglish decided to step away from his manager’s job that same summer.

His next few roles (Newcastle Utd & Celtic director of football) weren’t successes and we thought that we’d seen the last of Kenny Dalglish the manager.

He had accepted a role as an ambassador at Liverpool in 2009. Then after Roy Hodgson was sacked, Kenny was once again Liverpool gaffer in 2011.

That would last until May 2012. But even in that short period of time Kenny made some significant contributions as he had signed Luis Suarez and Jordan Henderson and he also managed to win the League Cup.

He remained at the club, and still works there as a non-executive director. Last year the Merseyside giants also renamed a stand after one of their best players and managers.

Now his footballing achievements are clearly huge but the man himself is also a very kind and passionate individual who has done so much good in the face of adversity. That’s another big reason for his new title.

After his wife Marina’s battle with cancer, the two set up a charity ‘The Marina Dalglish Appeal’ to help raise money and awareness when it comes to cancer care. They’ve helped raise more than £10m since the charity’s inception in 2004.

Then there’s Hillsborough. The tragedy that happen on Sheffield that day, when 96 Liverpool fans never returned home from a football match will forever be linked with Liverpool and Dalglish, who was the manager at the time. He attended many of the funerals that took place, including four on one day. He continued to support the families who fought for justice, years after the event.

It’s definitely fitting that Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish should now be a knighted. His career as a footballer and a manager was deserving enough but the warmth he’s shown to so many others by campaigning for just causes tips him well over the edge.

Although in the stands at Hampden, Celtic Park and Anfield he’ll still forever be known at King Kenny!

By Scott Johnston (Thefootyblog.net)

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