Phil THOMPSON

Phil Thompson - Liverpool FC - Biography of his football career at Anfield - conclusion.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 27 May 1981

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    • POSITION
      Central Defender
    • DATE OF BIRTH
      Thursday, 21 January 1954
    • PLACE OF BIRTH
      Liverpool, England.
  • INTERNATIONAL
  • England
  • CLUBS
  • Liverpool FC
    • Club Career Dates
      1971-1984
    • League Debut
      Monday, 3rd April 1972 as a sub in a 3-0 win at Manchester United (Aged: 18)
    • Club Career
      337 League apps (+3 as sub), 7 goals

Phil THOMPSON - Liverpool FC - Biography of his football career at Anfield - conclusion.

Phil waves the Union Jack in triumph in Paris after Liverpool's victory in the 1981 European Cup Final.

Photograph George Herringshaw.  ©

 

 Phil remained injury free throughout the 1979-80 campaign and, for the only time in his Liverpool career, played all 42 League games. He again helped the team to the division's best defensive record, the Reds conceding only 30 goals and keeping 19 clean sheets. Phil scored his solitary goal of the season in a 4-0 win against Tranmere Rovers in a League Cup 2nd round replay in September 1979, but this would be a season where Liverpool were 'nearly men' in the domestic knockout competitions, losing in both the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the League Cup, to Arsenal (in a third replay) and Nottingham Forest, respectively. Much worse, they had fallen at the first hurdle in Europe, Soviet side Dynamo Tbilisi knocking them out of the European Cup 4-2 on aggregate in October 1979. Fortunately, the League would provide ample recompense. The Reds lost only two of their first 23 games to establish a lead they would never relinquish, and a 4-1 home win against Aston Villa on May 3, 1980, gave them their fourth League title in five seasons. With another championship medal in the bag and his partnership with Hansen continuing to flourish, Phil could be very pleased with his season's work. Thommo played the first 17 League games in season 1980-81 but was injured in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on November 15, forcing him to miss the next nine League matches.

 

Recurring injuries hampered his progress and he only appeared another eight times in the League, making a disappointing total of 25 appearances. Phil's problems were one reason why Liverpool's title campaign was also a letdown, the Reds failing to mount a challenge for the League championship and finishing in 5th place, 9 points behind champions Aston Villa. Often lacking Thommo's sturdy presence (as well as that of dependable left back Alan Kennedy, another injury victim) the defence leaked 42 goals, the most the Reds had conceded in eight seasons. However, they ended the campaign brightly, picking up two pieces of silverware. After overcoming West Ham United to lift the League Cup for the first time in their history (winning 2-1 in the replayed final at Villa Park on April 1st), they regained the European Cup (their third triumph in five seasons) with a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in Paris on May 27th, Alan Kennedy scoring the only goal of the game. Like Kennedy, Phil returned from injury to play in both those finals and collect two more medals. As captain of the side, Thompson enjoyed one of the proudest moments of his career that night as he collected the famous trophy and held it aloft to the Liverpool fans he had stood amongst as a youngster. Thereafter followed the traditional lap of honour with a delighted, flag waving Thommo (see photo above) savouring every moment. (Martin Greensill)

 

Phil in action for Liverpool on 1st. August 1982.  Photo G. Herringshaw.  ©

                                        (Part 5) 1982/83-1984/85

 

Liverpool made a slow start to the 1981-82 season, winning only three of their first 11 League games and struggling to find their usual form. After ending the year in mid-table following a 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City on Boxing Day, 1981, manager Bob Paisley saw the need for changes and, judging that Phil's captaincy of the side was having a negative effect on his performances, made the controversial decision to give the captain's armband to Graeme Souness. Thommo kept his place in the team but, after playing the first 19 League games of the season, he was dropped after Liverpool laboured to a 2-1 home win against Wolves on January 16th. After missing eight games, he played the last 15 games of the League campaign, helping Liverpool wrap up a record 13th title as they won 12 and drew three of these matches. This made it two trophies for the season as the Reds had earlier retained the League Cup (now called the Milk Cup) with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham at Wembley on March 13th. Thommo had shaken off the loss off the captaincy and added two more medals to his already impressive collection. On the international front, Phil travelled to Spain as part of England's World Cup squad and played every minute of a campaign which saw them concede just one goal in five games. Ultimately though, despite remaining undefeated throughout the tournament, England suffered a disappointing 2nd round exit following draws against West Germany and Spain.

 

In contrast to the previous campaign, Liverpool started the 1982-83 season brightly, going unbeaten in their first seven matches, Mark Lawrenson partnering Thommo in central defence in the absence of the injured Alan Hansen. Phil started the first 18 League games but was injured during a 3-1 home win against Watford in December 11th, and was in and out of the team for the rest of the season. He ended up with 24 League appearances, which was enough for yet another championship medal, Liverpool retaining the title comfortably as they finished 11 points ahead of surprise runners-up Watford. The Reds had also won the League Cup/Milk Cup for the third season in a row, beating Manchester United 2-1 at Wembley on March 26th, although Phil missed that game. He made a total of 34 appearances that term but, now aged 32 and with Lawrenson and Hansen looking a very solid partnership, he must have feared for his Anfield future. Thommo started the Charity Shield game at Wembley on August 20, 1983, Liverpool losing 2-0 to Manchester United, but was substituted in the second half and would never feature in the first team again.

 

New manager Joe Fagan (who had succeeded Bob Paisley that summer) put his faith in the Lawrenson-Hansen combination and their excellent form throughout the season meant there was no way back for Phil. He was loaned out to Sheffield United in December 1984 and joined the Yorkshire club on a permanent basis in March 1985, a free transfer bringing an end to his glorious Liverpool career. In 14 seasons at the club, Phil had made 477 appearances, scoring 13 goals, and won 14 major honours including seven League championships and two European Cups, lifting the trophy as captain in 1981. He returned to his beloved Anfield twice after his playing career ended, working as a coach from 1986-1992 and as assistant manager to Gérard Houllier from 1999-2004. (Martin Greensill)