Arguably the greatest footballer that Liverpool has ever seen, Kenny Dalglish was born in Glasgow, Scotland on 4 March 1951. As a boy, he was a Rangers supporter until he signed for Celtic at the tender age of 16. He would go onto win four Scottish First Division titles, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup with Celtic and with 112 goals in 204 matches etched his name into Scottish football history.
On 10 August 1977, he signed for Liverpool FC for a British transfer record fee (at the time) of 440 000 GBP, inheriting the number 7 shirt from Kevin Keegan who had left the club for Hamburg. As a Liverpool player, he won six First Division championships, two FA Cups, four League Cups, seven Charity Shields, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup and scored 172 goals in 515 appearances. King Kenny became the first player-manager in English football history at the age of 34 when he succeeded Joe Fagan in 1985 and went on to win the double in his first season (1985-86), scoring the league title-clinching goal against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. During his first managerial spell at Liverpool, Kenny won three league titles, two FA Cups and the Screens Sport Super Cup and had taken charge of 381 games, winning 223 with a team total goal tally of 732. He left Liverpool at the top of the table, in 22 February 1991, after his unwavering devotion for the grieving families of the Hillsborough tragedy had taken a toll on his health.
His Greatest Achievement (there have been many…)
Kenny Dalglish stood in court Just over four years ago, during the inquest about the attendance at the 1989 FA Cup Final and how more people seemed to be in the stadium than the official numbers recorded, as John Beggs QC (legal representation for match commanders David Duckenfield, Roger Marshall and Roger Greenwood) began to question him;
So, you, an icon, I am going to suggest a very important role model to young men who support Liverpool, laugh at the fact that they break the law by going in without tickets?
To which Kenny responded:
I’m laughing because I don’t know. You’re the one that used the word ‘icon’, not me. I’m only a guy. I’m only a normal human being that had a good job and, if other people think something of you, that’s up to them.
King Kenny’s compassion and his efforts to support every single one of the grieving families following the Hillsborough disaster went above and beyond the call of duty. He made himself available to the families of the bereaved, organised hospital visits, ensured that Liverpool F.C was represented at every funeral and personally attended many of them and attended all annual memorial services held at Anfield. As Liverpool and its supporters were vilified by the establishment and many of their peers around the world, he stood with them, saying: To those that attack Liverpool supporters - I will never tire of reminding them that the fans were the real heroes in 1989, not the villains… And he would re-iterate that statement over and over again, as he stood with them for 27 years until justice was finally, rightfully served.
King Kenny is (together with his wife Marina) the co-founder of The Marina Dalglish Appeal; his family’s cancer charity which opened the Centre for Oncology at University Hospital (worth 1.5 million GBP) in Aintree in 2007 and has raised over 10 million GBP in total. King Kenny was granted the Freedom of the City of Liverpool on 22 September 2016, in recognition of his tireless work.
The Queen of England’s Birthday Honour list
King Kenny had received a British Order of Merit for his services to football in 1984 but, knighthoods in football have always been a rarity. Sir Alex Ferguson’s knighthood, which he received for services to football in 1999 is one out of only ten that have been handed out.
The government website which explains the honours’ system, points out that possible recipients must:
have made achievements in public life;
have committed themselves to serving and helping Britain and, usually have made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do, and lastly, the section under Knights or Dames reads:
This is awarded for having a major contribution in any activity, usually at national level. Other people working in the nominee’s area will see their contribution as inspirational and significant, requiring commitment over a long period of time.
What the knighthood means to Sir Kenny Dalglish (in his own words)
I don’t think it makes me any different. It’s for yourself and for everyone who has been associated with you through the years, from your parents to your professional career. We are immensely proud as a whole family to have got it but everyone should feel proud because they have all played a very important role in what we’ve done and where we have got to.
I don’t understand the process you have to go through to get this but obviously a lot of people must have pushed forward and in their wisdom put my name forward for the accolade, which is hugely humbling but also very gratifying as well. I don’t know the details but obviously it takes everything you have done in your life into consideration. Football was part of it and a very important part of it. So is the charity that we have in Marina’s name and obviously Hillsborough must have been part of it as well.
It is what your life has encompassed through the years and someone in their wisdom has thought it was deserving of some recognition. It wasn’t me who thought that. But I am hugely proud to have accepted the accolade. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel comfortable. No-one will be calling me that anyway…
When I was a young boy in Glasgow I wouldn’t have had the words to give it due testimony but we are hugely proud to have got this.
You start off in your life just hoping to be a footballer. You become a footballer and have a bit of success in the football world and that seems to give you a platform to go on to other things. We only set out to do the best we possibly could; the charity or Hillsborough; it was to help people because somebody helped us. You start off with your parents and they put you on the right road. Marina and I are fortunate that we got good direction from them.
Then the football; you couldn’t get any better tutors than Jock Stein and Bob Paisley. During that time both clubs were the most successful ones in Britain so it didn’t take much for us to win something. People might say they didn’t get a recognition like this. I wouldn’t get into a discussion about that but I’m not saying I’m any more deserving than those two great men. Someone has thought it was fitting for me to get it and that’s all we can deal with at the moment. We are hugely proud to have got this accolade.
Your parents are the ones who set you off in the world. They put you in the right direction or the wrong direction. Thankfully for myself and Marina we got pushed in the right direction. We met great people from then on in. It doesn’t do you any harm when you meet good people. They are going to look after you, good employers and all pulling in the right direction. It’s just lucky, it’s life’s journey.
We’ve been lucky that we’ve come across an awful lot of great people. Everything we have done is everything that you should do, really. Whether it is football, charity, Hillsborough or whatever. We want to help people that needed a bit of help at the time. You try your best. Marina wanted to show her appreciation - or we did as a family - for the way she was looked after when she was treated when she was ill and ended up starting the charity.
I think it’s just what you are supposed to do in life, isn’t it? You’re supposed to help people that need a bit…
Indeed, Sir Kenny, indeed.
All hail to our King Kenny.
All hail, Sir Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish.