On this day 13th June 1955 a certain Alan Hansen entered the world in Sauchie, Scotland. So, happy 63rd birthday today to Alan Hansen. There isn’t a lot you get for £110,000 nowadays is there? Certainly not in the footballing world. I know times change but even back in 1977 wasn’t considered to be a huge amount of money. Liverpool paid £110,000 to Scottish club Partick Thistle for his signature back in 1977.
I think it’s fair to say that not many had heard of Alan Hansen when we signed him. Of course there was no Sky Sports, or internet so knowledge of other players at times was quite sparse. Centre backs such as Martin Buchan, Terry Butcher, David O’Leary, Russell Osman, Kenny Burns and Larry lloyd were some of the more familiar centre backs days then. So, to a certain extent a fair few eyebrows were raised when we signed him.
Quite often certain players are born to be top level footballers. You can tell from a very early age that it being a top professional footballer was written in the stars. Not so Alan Hansen necessarily.
Alan Hansen – The All Round Sportsman
Alan Hansen was not just an accomplished footballer. Actually he was good enough to represent his country at junior level in golf, volleyball and squash. Two years after watching a Partick Thistle team that included his brother John beat firm favourites Glasgow Celtic in a Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park, 4-1, Hansen was playing for Partick himself. He would go on to make m ore than a century of League appearances for The Jags. Including being part of the team that won them promotion to the Scottish Premier League in 1976.
Signing Scottish players seemed to be a big thing for English First Division clubs in the 70’s and 80’s. There was an abundance of talent north of the border. Hansen himself was one of the excellent trio of Scottish players, the other two being Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness, signed by Bob Paisley within a 12-month period. These signings would help to ensure that Liverpool’s domination of the domestic and European scene in the mid-1970’s would continue.
A football magazine called Shoot! was on every keen football fans reading list. An article in this magazine shortly after he arrived said:
“Alan Hansen faces a tough battle for a first team spot with the established Anfield back-four men. But whoever he replaces, Liverpool fans can look forward with confidence to seeing one of the soccer’s most talented young men in action. The big occasion brings out the best in Hansen and he says: “I’m really looking forward to life as a Liverpool player and I’m determined not to let them down.’ It’s unlikely he will do so…”
Liverpool already had the excellent central-defensive pairing of Phil Thompson and Emlyn Hughes well established. Therefore Hansen’s opportunities were limited during his first full season on Merseyside. However, he still appeared in nearly half the League matches, 18, as well as a number of cup-ties.
Although disappointed to miss out on the League Cup final team narrowly defeated by Nottingham Forest after a replay, he was consoled by not being overlooked for the 1977/78 for the starting line-up that would successfully defend the European Cup at Wembley against Bruges.
In time Alan Hansen would become a dominant centre back for Liverpool. But in the 1977/78 final he played left-back. It wasn’t long however that he would replace Emlyn Hughes in the centre of defence early in the 1978/79.
Alan Hansen was so cool on the ball. It was often said that he could ‘play in his slippers’. If he had to make a sliding tackle, then “Wow”, he was really stretching himself.
His teammates often remarked how calm he seemed before games that reflected in his cool and calculated play on the field. He admitted that he suffered terribly from pre-match nerves but once he got on the field he was in his element.
Hansen became known for his calmness in stylishly carrying the ball out of defence. Rather than hoof it upfield. This prompted manager Bob Paisley to remark:
“He has given me more heart attacks than any player I have ever known.”
He scored 14 goals for Liverpool but he only scored once in his last six years at the club as a series of knee injuries curtailed his forays forward. In an era of crunching tackling defenders, Hansen was hardly a battering ram of a central defender. His vision and tactical nous allowed him to stay on his feet instead of crashing into attackers.
In all Alan Hansen won 8 league titles with Liverpool. As well as these title successes he also won 3 European Cups, 2 FA Cups and 4 consecutive League Cups.
Although he played many times alongside Phil Thompson, probably Hansen’s best partnership was with Mark Lawrenson. Alan Hansen and Lawrenson complemented each other perfectly. Having said that, Hansen says of the three central defenders he played with at Liverpool, the third being Gary Gillespie, he and Thompson had the best understanding.
Not the most aggressive of pairings as it was perceived that neither of them were great tacklers. But their superior ability in reading the game made their communication almost telepathic. To a degree, Hansen felt Lawrenson lacked positional sense whereas that was Thompson’s greatest strength as well as being a great header of the ball.
In all Alan Hansen played a total of 620 games for Liverpool, scoring 14 times.
Happy Birthday Alan Hansen – Have a Great Day!!
See Alan Hansen in action here…..