On the 10th of January 2022, Billy Liddell would have been celebrating his 100th birthday and as the countdown to one of our greatest ever player’s milestone day edges closer – here’s an excerpt from the book written to mark the event: Liddell at One Hundred.
Billy Liddell was the complete athlete and that is a key reason why he could play until the age of 38, as well as play in all 10 outfield position for Liverpool.
Despite only training part-time as he juggled football with life as an accountant, his physical condition was a key asset of his game as the Scot was so strong, speedy and robust, he was hardly ever injured and was a key part of the team.
READ MORE: Bursting the ball on the crossbar: Billy Liddell’s final Liverpool days under the new manager, Bill Shankly
In the days before substitutions, players would have to be juggled on the pitch whenever an injury occurred and this was another key asset of the versatile and altruistic winger’s game:
‘Billy represented Liverpool in every outfield position on the pitch.
‘Being a period before substitutions, whenever a player was injured and incapable of continuing on the pitch, there was no option but to reshuffle the players available.
‘Billy’s physicality and fitness made him versatile, meaning he could fill in at right or left-half or right- or left-back, as well as his heading ability and strength making him competent at centre-half.
‘In fact, if it had not been for Ronnie Moran, Billy would have completed the ‘play in every position’ feat that not many have had the chance to achieve.
‘Away to Derby County in 1957, goalkeeper Tommy Younger was injured following a hefty kick to his back, meaning he was unable to continue in goal.
‘Liddell and Moran both offered their services to manager Phil Taylor to deputise in goal, the decision was made that keeper Younger would go up front and away from the action due to him barely being able to walk.
‘Moran was favoured to play in goal as Younger was being pushed upfield, and Billy was given the task of filling in for Moran at left-back.
‘The move was far from successful as Younger was ineffectual and Moran conceded a Derby winner with under ten minutes remaining.
‘Billy being the complete footballing package meant that it is fair to assume he could have had a career in any position.
‘No doubt his school rugby skills would have benefited his ability to catch the ball if he had ever wanted to transition into a goalkeeper full-time!’.
Despite the introduction of substitutions, versatility is still such a key asset in football and that’s why players like James Milner are so important to a squad.
There’s no doubt that Jurgen Klopp would greatly appreciate someone so talented and selfless as the great Billy Liddell and he would have been a hero in any era of our history.
All quotes obtained first hand by the author. Billy Liddell at One Hundred is available here.
Liverpool hero would be fourth highest appearance holder and second-top goal scorer EVER, if his wartime goals and games were counted