Date: 10th August 2011 at 10:00pm
Written by:

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?


Video courtesy of LFCHistory

Liverpool Greatest XI - Right-Back

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4 responses to “Liverpool Greatest XI – Right-Back – Tommy Smith”

  1. Bill Shankly says:

    Thats a great post Alan .
    If we were picking a team of the biggest legends & reputations then theres no way we could do without Tommy .
    I like your reasoning to play him right back & like yourself he was before my time but even so his legendary reputation as a hard man was always present & was an inspiration as a young fan & aspiring player like we all were before we became computer addicts !
    I personally voted for Phil Neal who was also before my time but what an appearance record the man has , he must arguably be right back in the World’s greatest X1 ?
    In my own time its between Venison , Nichol , Jones , Finnan & Babel .
    Nichol was such a good player he never really had a specialized position , he was too good for his own good in this argument !
    Jones was phenomenally talented even though he couldn’t score in a barrel of fannys !
    Very talented right back & if it was talent alone I was judging upon he would probably get it but because of his huge potential his appearance record lets him down even though he played around 250 games ! unlucky Rob .
    Babel was good for a season , then got ill & didnt quite recapture his form so for me its between Finnan , Jones & Venison .
    The biggest compliment I can give Venison is he was so good you often didn’t realize he was playing !
    He efficiently & quietly got on with the job , nobody ever made a mug outa him & nobody ever caught him outa position , he never gave away stupid free’s & he never gave away possession by trying an over complicated pass , he kept Nichol outa the side & thats a massive compliment in itself He has league medals which the other Specialized Right Backs dont have & that alone puts him all but over the line .
    I find it very hard to fault Finnan on anything , there was nothing he done badly , he even chipped in with a goal or two & he has a Champions League & FA Cup winners medals .
    Him & Jones were very similar in style going on that I’d have to say Jones edged him in ability .
    So from the players I’ve seen with my own eyes & judged with my own eyes in my time it has to be Jones , he was a damn fine player & although his medal collection isnt the best I cant think of another full back anywhere ever you would be crushingly disappointed to find out he was injured apart from maybe Roberto Carlos at his spectacular best
    Its Jones for me , out best RB since the ever present Phil Neal .

    • Kiernan says:

      Nothing about Chris Lawler !! You must not be literate enough ! Did you not know Tommy Smith wore No2 shirt because he injured out Chris Lawler by accident at training ? So Tommy Smith was best available to replace him and kept his new position ever after? If or when Tommy Smith is asked who is his best friend?, he would say automatically “Chris Lawler. It must not be forgotten Chris Lawler was captain for England Boys and England Youth. He captained against Germany Youth at Wembley in 1959. He was in No5 Shirt Centre Half.
      He was unlucky not to be given No5 shirt at Liverpool as Bill Shankley bought from Scotland Ron Yeats as Captain. Great enough,yes. Chris Lawler very nearly moved to Manchester U as was much appreciated by Matt Busby (ex-Liverpool). So instead Shankley conceded and gave him No2 shirt. Tommy Smith was also wanted by Man United. Then Chris Lawler became and described as “original goal scorer” from full back position. Dixie Dean scored 60 goals. Chris Lawler scored 61 plus few disallowed goals. If his goal against Inter Milan 1965 was allowed, Liverpool could be first to win European Cup. I shall shut and leave you at that.

  2. RiceFTW says:

    finnan wasnt half bad for me either. Great crosses with either foot, and solid at the back. Consistant player with class.