Full Name: Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish
Date of Birth: 04/03/1951
Regarded as one of the greatest British players of all time, Kenny Dalglish has won an abundance of honours in a career that has nevertheless had plenty of highs and lows. Not only was he hailed as "King of the Kop", but he is also the joint top goal scorer for the Scottish national team. Dalglish is remembered for his ability to score goals and win trophies, whether it is as a player or as a manager.
Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish was born on the 4 March 1951 in Glasgow, Scotland. Although he came from Dalmarnock, which is in the east end of Glasgow, Dalglish grew up near the docklands of Govan, close to Ibrox. As a result, Dalglish grew up supporting Glasgow Rangers.
He was always keen on football but didn’t always play outfield. At Milton Bank Primary School, Dalglish played as a goalkeeper. This didn’t last long though and he played for the Scotland schoolboys at right-half. At the age of 15, he instantly impressed, scoring twice in a schoolboy game against Northern Ireland. The next game Dalglish played was against the England schoolboys. The game finished 1-1 but Dalglish received positive feedback by The People newspaper, which singled out his performance. It seemed that a professional contract was on the cards for this budding young talent.
Like any child growing up, Dalglish wanted to play for the team he supported, but Rangers never approached him. Instead, in May 1967, Celtic manager Jock Stein sent his assistant Sean Fallon to ask Dalglish’s Protestant parents if they would let their son play for Catholic Celtic. Fallon was successful and Celtic loaned Dalglish out to Cumbernauld United, who were a Celtic nursery team. Along with this, he worked as an apprentice Joiner but was offered a professional contract a year later and started to play regularly for the reserves.
After progressing with the reserves, Dalglish made his first team debut on 25 September 1968 in a Scottish League Cup quarter final against Hamilton Academical at Douglas Park. However, it took Dalglish three years to establish himself in a team which weren’t only the best in Scotland, but had become the first British club to win the European Cup, beating Inter Milan 2-1 in the final. Fortunately, manager Stein believed that Dalglish would be a great player so he finally gave him his big break on the 14 May 1971, in a benefit game versus Kilmarnock at Rugby Park. Celtic won 7-2 with Dalglish scoring an astonishing six goals. Not even Stein could predict just how well Dalglish would perform and this seemed to have kick started his playing career.
On the 14 August 1971, Dalglish scored his first competitive goal for Celtic against his boyhood favourites Rangers. The goal came from the penalty spot in a Scottish League Cup game between the Old Firm teams at Ibrox. That season, Dalglish scored 23 goals in 49 games. The following season, Dalglish managed to rack up 41 goals in all competitions and, in his time at Celtic, scored 167 goals in 269 appearances. His goals made him a formidable force for Celtic which was why this inspirational player became captain of the club in the 1975/76 season. Celtic failed to win a trophy that season for the first time in 12 years, but this was maybe due to the fact that manager Stein missed most of the season after being seriously hurt in a car crash.
The next season Stein returned to Celtic Park and so did the trophies, with the Bhoys winning the league and cup double. Despite this, Dalglish was looking for a fresh challenge, so after winning five Scottish Championships, four Scottish Cup-winners medals and one Scottish League Cup-winners medal, Dalglish was on the move.
Kenny Dalglish bid farewell to Celtic and joined Liverpool on 13 August 1977, for a then record fee of £440,000. Dalglish had a great deal of pressure put on him when he was handed the famous number seven shirt, formerly of Liverpool legend Kevin Keegan, who Dalglish was brought into replace following Keegan’s move to Hamburg. Liverpool had just won the European Cup and Dalglish wanted to imitate this again with the team from Merseyside.
The new Liverpool number seven immediately showed Anfield his worth by scoring on his league debut against Middlesbrough and on his home debut against Newcastle United. The first test Dalglish had was when his new club faced Keegan’s Hamburg in the Super Cup. Liverpool cruised to a 6-0 victory and Dalglish ran the game, leaving Liverpool in no doubt who was the new King of the Kop. That season, Dalglish scored 30 goals and managed to do what he couldn’t do with Celtic – win the European Cup. Liverpool retained the trophy, beating Bruges in the final at Wembley and, to cap off this great achievement, Dalglish scored the only goal of the game with a delicate chip over the Bruges goalkeeper.
In 1980, Liverpool signed Ian Rush and Dalglish was to strike up a good partnership with the Welshman. Dalglish was a fine goalscorer, notching 172 goals in 515 games. However, he also provided many goals for Rush and helped Liverpool be the dominant force in British and European football.
The Scotsman’s time at Liverpool proved to be more successful than his spell at Celtic, winning an astonishing twelve trophies as a player with the club. These included three European Cup Winners trophies, six League Championships and four League Cups. He also scooped individual accolades such as the Players’ Player of the Year and two English Footballer of the Year awards.
Dalglish made his international debut in 1971, coming on as a substitute in Scotland’s Euro ’72 qualifier against Belgium. A year later he scored his first international goal in a World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park against Denmark, which Scotland won 2-0. He went on to play in the 1978 FIFA World Cup in Argentina and the 1982 FIFA World Cup in Spain. Dalglish earned a record 102 international caps for Scotland and scored 30 goals, a national goal scoring record which he shares with Denis Law.
After the 1985 European Cup final, which Liverpool lost to Juventus by a solitary goal, Dalglish was named as player-manager of the club. He took over from Joe Fagan, who decided to retire from football. Fagan himself had taken over from long serving manager Bob Paisley, the man who signed Dalglish for Liverpool as a player. In Dalglish’s first season as manager, he managed to win the league and the FA Cup, beating Merseyside rivals Everton in the final. This FA Cup win was special because his former managers Paisley and Fagan were never able to win the competition.
Dalglish managed to win the league title twice after this in the 1987/88 and 1989/90 season. Between lifting these championships, Dalglish managed to win another FA Cup in the 1988/89 season. Remarkably though, in 1991, Dalglish shocked the footballing world after resigning as Liverpool manager, even though they were top of the league at the time.
It is said that Dalglish left Liverpool due to health reasons but he returned to management just eight months later, taking control of second division Blackburn Rovers. Dalglish guided them to the top flight of English football in his first season. He was given a massive £30 million transfer kitty and he brought in players such as Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton, Tim Flowers and David Batty.
Blackburn finished runners up in the English Premier League in the 1993/94 season but won it in the 1994/95 season. Rovers were crowned champions against Dalglish’s ex-club Liverpool, even though they lost the game, as Manchester United could only manage a draw in their game against West Ham. Following this success, Dalglish moved upstairs and became the Director of Football at Ewood Park. A year after this move, Dalglish left the club by mutual consent and on a high.
In January 1997, once again Dalglish replaced Kevin Keegan, this time as manager of Newcastle United. He guided the Magpies to second place in the Premier League that season. However, the following year, Newcastle had slipped down the league table and, despite guiding them to the 1998 FA Cup final (only to lose 2-0 to Arsenal), he was sacked.
In June 1999, Dalglish moved back to Glasgow to become Director of Football at his old club Celtic. He became caretaker manager in February 2000 after Head Coach John Barnes was sacked. Dalglish managed to win the Scottish League Cup, beating Aberdeen in the final 2-0. Dalglish left that season and made way for the arrival of Martin O’Neill at Celtic Park.
This footballing great had a long and successful career, but it hasn’t come easy for the Scotsman. He has witnessed three tragedies that have haunted him, the first which came when he was at Celtic. In the 1971 Old Firm match at Ibrox, stairway 13 at the old Ibrox stadium collapsed, resulting in 66 people being killed.
This affected Dalglish, who was a spectator that day, but the next tragedy came when he was playing. In the wake of the 1985 European Cup final, 39 Juventus fans were killed in the Heysel stadium disaster. This was one of the saddest days in the game’s history but Dalglish was to witness the Hillsborough disaster when he was manager of Liverpool. On 15th April 1989, Liverpool faced Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final. At least 93 supporters were crushed to death after too many Liverpool fans were allowed into Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium. This affected Dalglish and he was admired by many following his reaction to the event. He attended funerals of many of the fans killed at the game, as did his Liverpool players. He was regarded as a gentleman on and off the pitch.
Dalglish is married to Marina and they have four children. Two of his children, Paul and Kelly have followed in their fathers footsteps by entering the world of sport. Kelly is a presenter for Sky Sports and Paul is a professional footballer who is currently playing in the MLS for Houston Dynamo.
Kenny and wife Marina both founded The Marina Dalglish Appeal for breast cancer in 2004, Marina having survived the illness after being diagnosed in 2003.
- Winner of the Liverpool Football Club pool: 100 Players Who Shook the Kop: 2006
- Freedom of the City of Glasgow: 1986
- Member of the FIFA 100: 2004
- Member of the Scotland Football Hall of Fame
- Inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame: 2002
- Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year: 1983, 1979
- PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 1983