|Major Honours||First Division/Premier League (19), FA Cup (7), League Cup (8), Community Shield (15), Champions League (6), UEFA Cup (3), FIFA Club World Cup (1)|
From domestic champions to European giants - here is the story behind one of the world's biggest soccer clubs.
Liverpool FC are an English Premier League soccer club. Based in the city of Liverpool, their home is Anfield, which has a capacity of 53,394. Liverpool are one of the most successful clubs in England and Europe having claimed 19 league titles, six European Cups, seven FA Cups, eight League Cups, 15 Community Shields, three UEFA Cups and four UEFA Super Cups.
Despite being founded back in 1892, Liverpool had to wait 80 years before becoming a significant force. It was in the 1970s when the Reds began claiming major domestic and international honours on a regular basis.
Today, Liverpool are one of the biggest and most well-supported clubs in the world. In 2019, the club’s estimated value was $2.183billion, making them the eighth most valuable soccer entity on the planet.
The club have also been involved in two major soccer tragedies. In 1985, 39 people died at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels during the 1985 European Cup final. Four years later, 96 lives were lost during an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.
Liverpool and Bill Shankly
Before the 1960s, Liverpool enjoyed occasional success, but the club was far from the trophy-claiming machine it is today. This began to change under the stewardship of Bill Shankly, who took over the club in December 1959.
Shankly joined Liverpool during a tough time for the club. The Reds were in the midst of their sixth straight season in Division Two and had just suffered an embarrassing FA Cup defeat to non-league Worcester City.
The new manager acted fast upon his arrival and proceeded to release 24 players. He also famously converted a boot storage room at Anfield into a meeting room where strategy was discussed with backroom staff, including future Liverpool boss Bob Paisley.
Two-and-a-half seasons after his arrival, Liverpool won the Division Two title to earn promotion back to the top tier. Incredibly, just two years later, Shankly led his side to the First Division title; the club’s first since the 1946/47 season.
More success soon followed, with an FA Cup win in 1965, another league title in 1965/66 and three consecutive Community Shields from 1965 to 1967. In that period, Shankly also took Liverpool on their maiden European outings and reached the European Cup Winners' Cup final in 1966, which they lost 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund.
There was more success to come in the early 1970s as he led the team to three more major titles including another league crown, a UEFA Cup and the FA Cup. The UEFA Cup marked a momentous milestone as the win over Borussia Monchengladbach saw Liverpool lift the first of many European trophies.
Bill Shankly retired on July 12, 1974, having won 11 honours with the Reds.
Liverpool and Bob Paisley
Following Shankly’s departure, it was the turn of his assistant, Bob Paisley, to take over the reins at Anfield. He certainly picked up where Shankly left off, winning the league and the UEFA Cup in only his second season in charge.
A year later, in 1976/77, Paisley topped this by not only retaining the league and winning the Community Shield, but also claiming the club’s first ever European Cup. Just like four seasons earlier in the UEFA Cup final, their opponents were Borussia Monchengladbach. And just like then, Liverpool came out victorious, this time with a 3-1 win in Rome.
In the subsequent season, Liverpool failed to defend their league crown, finishing second in Division One. However, the Reds did hold on to their European Cup, winning in the final for a second successive year. Liverpool got the better of Club Brugge, the team they had beaten two years earlier to win the 1975/76 UEFA Cup.
In addition to a second European Cup, Paisley also led his team to a UEFA Super Cup victory over Hamburg SV and yet another Community Shield win.
The titles kept on coming for Paisley, who led Liverpool through the greatest and most successful period in their history. When his time finally came to retire, the manager had accumulated a total of 20 trophies in his nine years at Anfield including a third European Cup in 1980/81, when his side beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the final in Paris.
Paisley saw his men lift three European Cups, six league titles, one UEFA Cup, three League Cups and a UEFA Super Cup. Interestingly, the one trophy that he never won was the FA Cup. The manager retired in 1983 and passed the torch on to his assistant coach, Joe Fagan, who enjoyed a treble-winning season in his first year.
His second campaign wasn’t anywhere near as successful, which resulted in Fagan being replaced with former player Kenny Dalglish. Under the Scotsman, the club enjoyed another incredible period of success as the new manager led the Reds to three league titles, two FA Cups and four Community Shields.
The Heysel Stadium disaster and the Hillsborough disaster
In the 1984/85 season, Liverpool reached the European Cup final, where they were set to take on Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium on May 29.
Liverpool supporters were housed in Section X of the ground. On one side of this, there was Section Y (another section for Liverpool fans) and on the other side Section Z (a neutral section but one which included a large gathering of Juventus fans).
One hour before the start of the game, trouble erupted as hooligans started to throw bottles, flares and stones. Due to the stadium's poor condition, parts of the crumbling terraces were also used. The throwing became more intense as kick-off got closer.
Then, a number of Liverpool hooligans broke through the thin boundary between Sections X and Z and charged at the Juventus supporters. Fans began to seek shelter alongside a wall of Section Z. Tragically, the wall was unable to withstand the force and part of it collapsed.
A total of 39 people died and 600 were injured. A number of people, including Liverpool fans, were convicted of manslaughter. As a result of the tragedy, UEFA banned English clubs from European competitions for five years and Liverpool for six.
Four years later, Liverpool were involved in another tragedy - the Hillsborough disaster. It occured ahead of an FA Cup semi-final game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.
Just before kick-off, a decision was made to open the stadium’s exit gate C in order to try and ease overcrowding outside of the entrance turnstiles. This, in turn, led to a huge influx of fans entering the already crowded pens. The crowding led to a crush which then turned into a disaster. A total of 96 fans died that day with 766 suffering injuries. Hillsborough remains Britain’s worst sporting disaster.
Liverpool in the 2000s
The 1990s weren’t a particularly successful time for the Reds, with their 1989/90 Division One title turning out to be their last for 30 years. Despite a couple of cup wins, fans would have to wait until the 2000s in order to experience regular success.
The man who really began to change things was Gerard Houllier. The Frenchman joined Roy Evans as co-manager for the 1998/99 campaign, but the partnership only lasted for 18 games before Evans left and Houllier was given the job.
While his first full season as sole manager of Liverpool was relatively uneventful, his second full campaign in 2000/01 saw Liverpool claim a treble. Despite finishing third in the league, Houllier led his men to the FA Cup, the League Cup and the UEFA Cup.
Three more trophies followed over the next two seasons before Houllier was replaced by Spaniard Rafael Benitez in 2004.
In his first season with the Reds, Benitez shot to stardom following one of the most memorable Champions League victories in history. Liverpool were 3-0 down at half-time to AC Milan before pegging the Italians back to 3-3 and taking the game to penalties. Benitez watched on as his side won the penalty shootout and turned an average season into an unforgettable one for the Liverpool faithful.
Over the next two seasons, Benitez claimed three more trophies including the UEFA Super Cup, the Community Shield and the 2006 FA Cup, which was won in similarly dramatic circumstances. The game saw West Ham and Liverpool play out a 3-3 draw before the Reds sealed the cup on penalties.
Despite all these successes, there was one major achievement which Benitez failed to deliver - a league title. The closest he came was in the 2008/09 campaign when Liverpool accumulated 86 points - the highest Premier League points total in the club’s history. Despite this, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United clinched the league by four points.
Things quickly went downhill for Benitez at Anfield and following a disastrous seventh-place finish in the 2009/10 season, the manager left.
Liverpool, the 2010s and the Jurgen Klopp era
Following the departure of Benitez, Liverpool’s stagnation continued. Veterans Roy Hodgson and Kenny Dalglish both stepped into the managerial role, but both failed to make significant progress. In fact, the club only won one trophy from the 2007/08 season to the 2018/19 campaign; the 2012 League Cup.
The team did come close to a league title in the 2013/14 campaign while under the leadership of Brendan Rodgers as all the pieces required to create a successful side had fallen into place during the Northern Irishmanâ€™s second season at the helm.
The side, which included the likes of Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and captain Steven Gerrard went on to mount a totally unforeseen title challenge and up until the final few weeks of the season, many expected the Reds to claim the crown.
With three games remaining, Liverpool were sitting at the top of the table following a run of 11 straight Premier League wins. Next up was a clash with Chelsea, who arrived at Anfield with a squad largely made up of reserves. Despite this, the Blues sensationally won the game 2-0. The match itself will go down in history for Gerrard’s slip which allowed Demba Ba to steal possession and score.
There was still hope for Liverpool with two games remaining but they needed to beat Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Despite taking a 3-0 half-time lead, Liverpool ended up drawing 3-3. This, in turn, gave Manchester City the advantage in the title race which they went on to win a week later.
After missing out on the title, Rodgers’ Liverpool were never the same team again. Key departures of Sterling and Suarez, along with the retirement of Gerrard, didn’t make the situation any easier. After a poor run of results at the start of the 2015/16 season, Rodgers was replaced by Jurgen Klopp.
In his first season with the club, Klopp led his side to two major finals; losing to Manchester City on penalties in the League Cup and then losing 3-1 to Sevilla in the Europa League.
The season after did not lead to any silverware either. However, the club did secure a place in the Premier League top four for the first time since their title challenge under Rodgers three years earlier.
In the 2017/18 campaign, the club secured another top-four finish, but the highlight of the season came in the Champions League. Upon their return to the competition, Klopp led the Reds to a final which Liverpool ultimately lost 3-1 to Real Madrid. This game will be remembered for two major blunders by Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius.
In the following campaign, the Reds went one better as they once again reached the Champions League final, this time they coming out victorious against Tottenham - a 2-0 victory sealing Liverpool’s sixth Champions League title.
In the Premier League, the team also made huge inroads, pushing Manchester City to within a point of the title. Nevertheless, the second-place finish was bitterly disappointing, particularly as they had picked up 97 points - more than they had ever had in a single campaign.
The league breakthrough came next time around, though. Liverpool smashed their points record and won the Premier League title for the first time in 30 years with 99 points. Klopp’s side won 32 of their 38 league games and finished 18 points clear of Manchester City, their nearest challengers.
The Reds also claimed the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup during this historic season. At times there were doubts over whether Liverpool would be able to finish the campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the season was allowed to finish without supporters.
Liverpool’s biggest rivals
Liverpool have a number of rivalries, not only with fellow English clubs but also with other successful European teams.
Their longest is with local rivals Everton. The fixture between these two clubs is known as the Merseyside Derby and over the years, it has produced some memorable and historic moments.
Interestingly, yet perhaps unsurprisingly, this fixture has produced more Premier League red cards than any other. The rivalry stems from the late 1800s, when Everton were the club that played at Anfield. However, a dispute between the club and the owner of the land saw Everton relocate to Goodison Park. This, in turn, saw the creation of Liverpool Football Club.
Another high-profile rivalry is with Manchester United. As the two most successful sides in England, they have been entrenched in a battle of supremacy for decades. Between them, the two clubs have won a total of 39 league titles (20 for United, 19 for Liverpool) and nine European Cups (three for United, six for Liverpool).
Despite this, the rivalry has rarely seen both clubs at their peak at the same time. For example, while Liverpool were dominating the soccer landscape in the 1970s and ‘80s, it was a rather quiet period for Manchester United. However, as Sir Alex Ferguson began to bring success to United in the 1990s and throughout the 2000s, Liverpool were not at the peak of their powers.
In recent years, things have changed again as Liverpool have powered their way to the top, while Manchester United have stagnated since the departure of Ferguson.
Liverpool have one of the biggest fanbases in the world. With over 200 official fan clubs across 50 different countries, the Liverpool brand is recognisable across the globe.
The club is also associated with the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which was first sung on the Anfield terraces in the 1960s.
Following the death of club legend Bill Shankly, the words 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' were added to the top of the entrance gates at Anfield, also known as the Shankly Gates.
- Apr 19, 2021
- Apr 18, 2021