Former Liverpool FC and Arsenal midfielder Ray Kennedy has passed away at the age of 70. A member of Liverpool’s legendary late 70s teams, Kennedy was a key figure in a golden era for the club – he made 393 appearances, and scored 72 goals, amassing three European Cups, five league titles and a UEFA Cup, as well as the Football League Cup.
Considered to be too slow when he started his career, Kennedy transformed himself from a big, bruising striker to a powerful midfielder, often showcasing his versatility, strength, and creativity in the biggest moments. His excellent first touch, intelligence, and all-around ability allowed him to transition from a forward to a midfielder with ease during his time at Liverpool. Bob Paisley described him as “one of Liverpool’s greatest players and probably the most underrated”.
Ray started his professional career at Arsenal, making his debut in September 1969 against Glentoran in the Inter-Cities’ Fairs Cup. He won the Inter-Cities’ Fairs Cup, a First Division League title, and a FA cup with them, before making his way north to Merseyside for £200,000. He was Bill Shankly’s last signing. However, Kennedy arrived at Anfield on the day the legendary Liverpool boss resigned, and never played for the iconic manager.
After starting like a house on fire with 8 goals in 11 games, there were concerns about a lack of goals from Kennedy. By the end of the season 1974-75, Bob Paisley converted him to left-midfield and suddenly, Kennedy had a brand new lease of life in Liverpool’s engine room.
Ray Kennedy left Liverpool in January 1982 to join old team-mate John Toshack, who was now manager of Swansea. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1984 and lived with the debilitating disease for the rest of his life.
It speaks volumes that both fanbases of Arsenal and Liverpool, two clubs with rich heritages, both hold Ray Kennedy in high regard. May he rest in peace.