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Just one word is needed to describe Ian Rush’s Liverpool career: goals. The Welshman scored 346 of them in 660 appearances, a club record which is hard to break. His predatory instincts were instrumental in the Reds dominating the game for most of the 1980s. He was loved at Anfield, feared at every opposition ground and renowned throughout Europe.
Signed from Chester in 1980 for £300,000 (then a British transfer record for a teenager), tall, thin and ungainly, the young striker looked anything but a future striking hero when he broke into the team, but looks can be deceptive.
Often described by his teammates as Liverpool’s first line of defence, Rush was not just a goalscorer but a hard-working, selfless runner who never gave up the chase. Electric pace and eagle-eyed anticipation meant he was also a nightmare to mark and his attacking partnership with Kenny Dalglish is regarded as one of the best ever.
The 1983 – 84 season was perhaps Rush’s finest. A remarkable 47-goal haul (50 if you count his spot kick conversion in Rome and two goals for Wales) was enough to see him become the first British player to win Europe’s Golden Boot. This was the perfect accompaniment to an unprecedented treble of league title, European Cup and Milk Cup, not to mention double player of the year recognition.
His memorable double against Everton in the 1986 Cup final secured the club’s first domestic double but, as the dust settled on that triumph, the blue half of the city was given reason to dance with joy when it was announced that Liverpool’s lean, mean, goal scoring machine had agreed to join Juventus.