Sir Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish was born on March 4, 1951, in Glasgow, Scotland. He grew up in Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow. His family eventually moved to Govan, which, coincidentally, is the same area that Sir Alex Ferguson was from. Dalglish attended Miltonbank Primary School.
It may sound surprising these days, but Kenny started out as a goalkeeper and he would only later find his feet as an attacker. He then attended High Possil Senior Secondary School and whilst attending, he went on to win the inter-schools five-a-side and the inter-year five-a-side competitions. He also won the Scottish Cup playing for Glasgow Schoolboys and Glasgow Schools and then got selected for the Scottish Schoolboys team who were unbeaten in the home nation’s tournament.
Kenny had a trial at Liverpool back in 1966, but he was unsuccessful at that time. He began his youth career with Cumbernauld United in 1967 and scored 37 goals while he was on loan from Celtic, also serving an apprenticeship as a joiner at the same time.
It wasn’t long before he made his debut for Celtic’s senior team. In September 1968 he played his first match but it took a few years before becoming a regular at the club.
He went on to win four First Division titles, four Scottish Cups and four League Cups in his time at Celtic, scoring 112 goals in 204 appearances. In such a short space of time, Kenny had already become a legend at Celtic.
On the 10th of August 1977, Dalglish got his dream move to Liverpool as the legendary manager Bob Paisley was looking for a direct replacement for Kevin Keegan at the time. Kenny was his number one choice and Liverpool paid a then British record transfer fee of £440,000. He took up the number seven shirt for the Reds.
He had to fill the void left by Keegan’s departure for Hamburg.
Kenny didn’t just fill it; he became an instant success in his first season. He went on to score 20 goals in the league and 31 in all competitions. Liverpool went on to win their second European Cup in successive seasons and Dalglish scored the winning goal against Club Brugge at the Wembley Stadium. Liverpool also won the European Super Cup beating Keegan’s Hamburg 6-1 over two legs. The Reds finished runners-up to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the league as well as in the League Cup.
In the 1978-79 season, Liverpool would have some disappointments with early exits from the European Cup, the League Cup, and also losing in the European Super Cup. They also lost in the semi-final of the FA Cup the same season. However, with no European games as a distraction, Liverpool went onto claim their 11th league title finishing eight points clear of Clough’s Forest.
The status of Legend and a Hero was becoming more fitting for Dalglish as time went on. He scored 25 goals in all competitions and became the top goalscorer in what turned out to be another amazing season.
Kenny wasn’t just a great player, he was also a great influence in the dressing room. He has been a great husband to Marina, whom he married on November 26, 1974, and the couple have had four children together; Kelly, Paul, Lynsey and Lauren.
Graeme Souness had a great story about Kenny and Marina:
“I signed for Liverpool about six months after Kenny and we were staying in the same hotel, “the Holiday Inn”
“Kenny and his wife Marina had just had Kelly and were staying in the room opposite. One afternoon there was a knock on the door, and I opened it to see Kenny with his face covered in baby poo & asking to use my bathroom.”
“Kenny liked his rest in the afternoons, but it transpired there had been some dispute over whose turn it was to change the baby and during the disagreement, Marina had decided to plonk the baby on Kenny’s face while he tried to sleep. I made sure he took the towels back with him after he’d cleaned up. We stayed there for about a year and every time he knocked after that I always checked the spy-hole in the door before opening up.”
Amazingly, Kenny went on to win three European Cups, five league titles, four League Cups and a UEFA Super Cup. He also won the PFA Players’ Player of the Year in 1983, FWA Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1983, and he also finished runner-up to Michel Platini for the Ballon d’Or in 1983. In 1984, Kenny was awarded an MBE from the Queen for his contribution to Sport, which was an amazing achievement.
In 1985, Kenny took over the manager’s job at Liverpool when his predecessor Joe Fagan resigned after the tragic Heysel Stadium incident. His role was player-manager at the time and amazingly, King Kenny took the already talented team on to win a league and FA Cup double, an amazing feat in his first season. Ian Rush was the top scorer that term with 31 goals in all competitions.
Despite the following season ending without a trophy, Ian Rush scored 40 goals; there was no stopping him! Unfortunately, Kenny couldn’t persuade Rush to stay as he had decided to leave Anfield for Juventus.
Dalglish signed Scouser John Aldridge as a suitable replacement for Rush. He then added Newcastle striker Peter Beardsley and Watford’s winger John Barnes to his ranks. He was building a squad for the future with these signings.
Ending what was an amazing international career, he retired from the national team on the 12th of November 1986 at Hampden Park as the most capped Scottish player with 102 appearances and 30 goals to his name, leaving him joint-top scorer with Denis Law.
In the season that followed, Liverpool went on to enjoy an amazing unbeaten run of 29 games in the league. They finished as champions for the 17th time, with just two defeats all season and nine points clear of Manchester United in second. Their only downfall was a surprising loss in the FA Cup final to the ‘Crazy Gang’ Wimbledon. John Aldridge was the top scorer with 29 goals in that season.
The following season brought unimaginable tragedy to Liverpool and England. It was a semi-final against Nottingham Forrest at the Hillsborough Stadium on the 15th of April 1989.
It all started outside the ground when security spotted some overcrowding. They then ordered exit gate C to be opened. Supporters started to enter the ground through the gates which caused an influx of thousands into the turnstiles.
It was a terrible tragedy which changed the face of football forever. 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives on that terrible day and hundreds more were injured.
‘GONE BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN’
Kenny ensured that Liverpool FC were represented at all the funerals and even attended a lot of them himself. It was a very sad time for all football fans.
“I wanted to do it and they wanted to come,” Kenny said back in April 1989, he led his daughter Kelly and son Paul past the flowers covering the Anfield pitch and headed up to the Kop to honour the 96 people who died that month at Hillsborough.
“The kids had been at the game and so it was traumatic for them, but it was also an unforgettable experience on the Kop.”
Liverpool would go on to win the FA Cup that season beating their bitter rivals Everton 3-2 in the Final.
The following season Liverpool went on to win the league for an unprecedented 18th time, finishing above Aston Villa. John Barnes was the top scorer with 28 goals in all competitions, which would be the last time they have won the league to date.
The 1990-91 season was a strange one and it spelled the end of an era as King Kenny resigned Liverpool manager on the 22nd of February, following a 4-4 draw with Everton. He cited personal reasons for his resignation. Ronnie Moran took over as a caretaker manager.
Still, Kenny left with his head held high after winning three League Titles, two FA Cups, one League Cup and a Football League Super Cup. He was also Manager of the Year in 1986, 1988 and 1990.
Kenny would, however, return to management only eight months later, taking over at Blackburn Rovers. He would take Blackburn from the Second Division to win the Premier League in four seasons, an amazing feat for any manager to achieve. Soon after winning the league, he stepped down to become Director of Football at the club, and he would leave his post in 1996.
In January 1997, Kenny took over as manager at Newcastle United. Amazingly, in his first season he finished runners-up in the league and the FA Cup, but in his second season they finished 13th, and he was let go the following season.
Kenny went on to take over as Director of Football at Celtic for only one season.
After that he didn’t do anything football-related for ten years. In 2003, his wife Marina was diagnosed with breast cancer, but thankfully she made a full recovery from the disease. Kenny and Marina went on to set up “The Marina Dalglish Appeal”, a charity organisation to help raise money for battles against cancer. In 2009, Marina received an MBE from the Queen for outstanding services to charity.
In January 2011, King Kenny returned to his beloved Liverpool as caretaker manager, taking over from the abysmal Roy Hogdson. The fans got their wish and we had our King back in charge. He would take over on a permanent basis the following May.
In Kenny’s first full season he took the club to two finals, the FA Cup and League Cup and went on to win the League Cup. Incidentally, Dalglish would lose his job that same season after finishing eighth in the league. His departure was premature in the opinions of a lot of fans!
But in October 2013 King Kenny came back to his throne as a non-executive director and is ever present. In May 2017, Liverpool honoured Kenny Dalglish by naming Anfield’s Centenary Stand after him. He was Knighted by the Queen in June 2018, which was long overdue.
King Kenny is a legend and will always be instilled in our beloved club.
Many professionals have come out and spoken about their first meetings with Kenny.
Steven Gerrard said:
“When I was taken into Liverpool’s academy, I was invited to Melwood by Steve Heighway to have lunch with the players before going up to Anfield on the team bus. As a nine-year-old, it was mind-blowing; but the reality of sitting next to legends like Kenny, Ian Rush and John Barnes was terrifying.”
“ My dad had drilled it into me what a player Kenny was and I was a nervous wreck when I met him. I sat next to Kenny on the coach and it was very much a case of me speaking when I was spoken to! I might have only just started working with him as a player but, as I have known him a long time, he has played a massive role in my career. Kenny has always been there to offer advice and he is someone I have so much respect for. I don’t need to talk about his stature in the game. He is Kenny Dalglish. His name says everything.”
On his first meeting with Kenny, Jamie Carragher said:
“I’ll never forget my first meeting with Kenny. I used to play against his son, Paul, at school. I played for Bootle Boys and he played for Crosby. We got a late penalty in one particular Under 10s game. I think the award was a bit dubious but we scored and made it 1-1. At the end of the game, Kenny walked off and gave the referee a bit of stick and because it was Kenny, everyone was a bit in awe of what was going on. Everyone that is, except my dad. My dad ended up telling Kenny what he thought of what he’d said to the ref. Let’s just say they both ended up giving as good as they got!”
“There is nothing new or original that I can say about Kenny. He’s probably the greatest figure in British football. There is only really Johan Cruyff who has achieved such success both as a player and a manager.”
Sir Kenny Dalglish was an extremely popular player/manager to have in the team and the club. His calm, classy and humble persona rubbed off on people and he was an infectious type to have around any club. He was always a favorite in the dressing room, but make no bones about it – he had a hunger to win as a player and manager and this has been proven by his successful career.
His gentleman-like character is loved by all as he respected people. He is a kind, loving family man who loves his wife and children dearly.
His love for the club is so obvious. You could see him regularly at our games even when he wasn’t a part of the club. He has shown nothing but respect to everyone he worked with and most importantly the fans, and we all adored him. We still do. He has a special presence about him, that makes people feel honoured to be in his company. He is the definition of a true Legend and a Hero of Liverpool FC and will always be remembered as such.