Picking out a greatest XI for Liverpool FC has not been easy. So many decisions, who will I leave out as I could easily pick several teams. Surprisingly the defensive side of the team has been more difficult than the attacking options. I think my back line may differ from a lot of fans choices. I have gone for Tommy Smith at right-back. This has been a hard decision as Smith played for LFC mainly at centre-half but he did play right-back towards the end of his career at Anfield. I have two other centre-half’s I couldn’t leave out but I had to fit ‘Anfield Iron’ into my team at all costs.
I am a huge fan of Tommy Smith although he was playing before my time. My father told me many stories of Smith’s hard man antics but also of his ability on a football pitch. I also read Smith’s autobiography a couple of years ago and found it to be a very informative and interesting book. Smith’s will to win and love for Liverpool FC came across strongly in the book. His attitude and ability made him one of the first names on Shankly’s team. Bill Shankly once famously said of him, “Tommy Smith wasn’t born, he was quarried” and also said “Tommy was never a boy, he was born a man!”
Smith was a Liverpool fan from a young age and began a job on the ground staff in 1960. Within a couple of months he began playing for the reserves before progressing to making his 1st team debut in 1963. He went on to make 638 appearances for LFC and scoring 48 goals. He also earned one England cap during a very successful club career.
Tommy Smith left it all on the pitch which may have helped Shankly make the decision to hand Smith the captaincy. He captained Liverpool until Shankly decided to hand the armband to Emlyn Hughes. This may have been part of the reason that Smith and Hughes had a fractious relationship which Smith talked about in length in his book.
Smith left Anfield with 4 league titles, 2 FA Cups, 2 European Cups, 2 Uefa Cups, 1 Super cup and 2 Charity Shields. His greatest moment in the red shirt came in Rome 1977. He played in place of the injured Phil Thompson and scored the 1st goal in a 3-1 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.
Many players have talked about how hard an opponent Smith was. Although he had this reputation he was only sent off once in his career and it was for swearing at the referee.
Tommy Smith made number 25 on the 100 players who shook the Kop survey among LFC fans.
I could not imagine a LFC greatest XI without Tommy Smith. We don’t see players of Smith’s elk now in the premiership and more is the pity. I know we have had more specialist right backs in the club’s history but we haven’t had a better man than Smith. A legend of Anfield.
I finish the post with the last words of the great man in his autobiography – “I wish you happiness, but in those moments when life gives you a bad time and you may feel everything and everyone is against you, be mindful that that’s not the case, and have faith, because you’ll never walk alone.” These words some up Anfield Iron!
Tommy Smith gets my number 2 shirt. Who gets your right back vote?
Phil Neal, Stevie Nicol, Markus Babbel, Rob Jones, Chris Lawler or one of our other great players from the past?
YNWA – JFT96
Video courtesy of LFCHistory