The Paisley effect

John Toshack
"Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley taught me everything I know. If you talk like Shanks and think like Bob you can't go far wrong."

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Kenny Dalglish
"There was only one Bob Paisley and he was the greatest of them all. He went through the card in football. He played for Liverpool, he treated the players, he coached them, he managed them and then he became a director. He could tell if someone was injured and what the problem was just by watching them walk a few paces. He was never boastful but had great football knowledge. I owe Bob more than I owe anybody else in the game. There will never be another like him."

Albert Stubbins recalls the end of Bob Paisley's playing career
"Immediately after retiring as a player, Bob talked about going into the fruit and veg business and he also considered taking a newsagents. It was a massive wrench to finish playing."

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Former LFC chief executive Peter Robinson
"It was definitely a crisis time when Bill left. It was a bombshell and Bob was very reluctant to take the position as manager. When we approached him he said no. In the end the chairman, directors and I had gang up on him."

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Ray Clemence
"I think when he first succeeded Shanks he was a bit overawed. I'll never forget him standing in the dressing room in the summer of 1974 on the first day of pre-season training and telling us: 'Shanks has gone and they're giving me the job even though I didn't really want it. But we must try to carry on what he's started' He saw it as his duty to take the job. Yet he set an incredible record that will never be beaten. Things just snowballed for him after that first season. For me, he was a better coach than motivator of men, but a shrewd judge of a player and very strong tactically."

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Tom Saunders, former Liverpool youth development officer
"As a former headmaster I thought I was pretty hot at weighing up people and situations. But you have to be quick and alert to keep up with this fellow ! I've watched many matches with him not involving Liverpool and very little escapes him. When a goal's scored he'll have the complete move analysed in a flash and he'll often emphasise the contribution of players running off the ball who were not directly involved. You might not even have been fully aware of them yourself.

Every scrap of information is stored in his memory. He astounds me by recalling detailed incidents of matches we saw a long time ago. He's not given to idle chatter, and after we've watched a match together, often he'll hardly say a word for long periods on the journey home. That's probably when he's concentrating and reflecting on what he's seen at the game, which he can instantly recall."

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Phil Thompson
"He bought players and moulded them together to create great teams. People talked about him as 'Uncle Bob', but he was as ruthless as they come. Anyone who worked under him, as I did, knows that. He could be hard but he went about it in the right way and was quite gentlemanly about it, for all his rough edges. He had a genius for creating teams."

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David Johnson
"His main ability as a manager, was not motivation, but rather the ability to spot players who suited Liverpool, and never make a mistake in the transfer market. He had the ability to say "Well you're a really good player and you're playing well for your team, but you don't suit us, but you're a good player and you do." What he did over a period of nine or ten years, was to be able to reconstruct teams but still continue winning. That's testament to his management ability, he was fantastic."

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Graeme Souness
"I was to learn that praise from Bob Paisley was rather like a snowstorm in the Sahara. He may have been regarded as a fatherly figure by the supporters but, let me tell you, he ruled at Anfield with a rod of iron. You could tell when he was about by the changed atmosphere in the dressing rooms and training ground. He was a commanding man and there were few who dared mess around with him. If we looked as though we were becoming a little complacent or if we were not performing up to the standard Bob would say, 'If you have all had enough of winning, come and see me and I will sell the lot of you and buy 11 new players.'

Another time he warned: 'I am only a modest Geordie but get me cornered and I am a mean bastard.' But it would be wrong to give the impression that we all walked around in fear and trepidation. He always kept a velvet glove on."

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Alan Hansen
"I go by records and Bob Paisley is the number one manager ever."

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Ian Rush
"He exuded sagacity, often with gentle humour such as advice he once gave to Ronnie Whelan: 'Assuming you have the talent, you only need three sentences to survive in football: 'Not my fault, I was tight on my man'; 'I was in space, you should have passed to me'; and, 'That's a great idea, boss.'"

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Phil Neal in an exclusive interview with LFChistory.net
"Bob had taken over from this God-like man Bill Shankly. Bob got used to the job and his association with Geoff Twentyman to bring in talented kids paid dividends and another man who was important to Bob Paisley was Tom Saunders. He confided in him with whom he was going to replace Kevin Keegan with in '77. It transformed the club again. He was never afraid. What I liked about Bob that he was never afraid to break up a winning formula. Whatever he achieved he was always looking to strengthen. We knew we were going to get a new face in pre-season. I signed in October. Ray Kennedy had been brought in the summer as Bill Shankly's last signing.

Terry Mac came after me. An established player in midfield, runs ahead of the ball. Then there would be another one before the end of the season, usually before March. That was the pattern every year. Whatever you won you knew somebody was going to come in and take your place. You could either stay and fight or as I saw other people just leave. Joey Jones left when Alan Kennedy arrived. Soon as Ray Clemence knew Brucie was in the frame he was off. Steve Nicol was bought in '81. He was after my shirt. They brought Souness in, the team got better. Lawrenson came in, you're getting better. He used to bring in good people. They were not fly-by-knights which was an expression Bob used to use. They'll be focused."

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Expressed by one of his most loyal lieutenants, Joe Fagan, Bob Paisley's soccer credo amounted to this
"Keep it simple, don't complicate things. He loathed all soccerspeak; he wouldn't have recognised a Christmas-tree formation if it had toppled on to him. "What does getting round the back mean?" he would ask. "We're not talking about burglars are we?"

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A profile of Bob Paisley the player, from a press article
"Bob Paisley, brilliant Liverpool left-half, first saw the light of day in the little Durham mining village of Hetton-le-hole. There isn’t a great deal of him - he is barely 5ft. 7 inch. in height – but is includes 11 st. of muscle and never-say-die spirit. The lad who never knows when to be beaten, Paisley took the eye of his games master as a natural footballer, and it was not long before he was rewarded with a place in the Durham County Schools’ side.

Eventually, threw in his lot with with Bishop Auckland, the famous amateur team. They won the Amateur cup during his stay with them. Later he joined the ground staff at Wolverhampton under Major Frank Buckley, but he decided Paisley was too small. Manager Mr. George Kay, stepped in and brought Bob to Anfield. The war intervened and Bob joined an anti-tank regiment and served from Alamein to Italy with “Monty”. It was during last season he grew into his own and made a regular place for himself in the Championship team.

There is no greater-hearted player than Bob Paisley. He seems to thrive on hard knocks. Likes billiards and snooker, admits to “bowling a bit” at cricket. Wants a cup winners’ medal to add to his Championship “prize”. Distantly related to Jack Hill, former Barnsley “pirot” and England captain. Married a Liverpool girl."

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Former Spurs' captain and Aston Villa player Danny Blanchflower
"My first match at Anfield was at right-back for Aston Villa. The roar from the Kop was awesome as Billy Liddell waltzed down the wing making us look like idiots. Then I began to recognize the source of Liddell’s magic. He was Liverpool’s inconspicuous craftsman at left half, Bob Paisley."

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Bob Paisley was left out of 1950 FA Cup final side. Quote from Albert Stubbins
"Bob was shattered to be left out. He was very low and contemplating leaving the club, but I told him not to make any hasty decisions. The fact that he went on to carve out a successful management career was a big surprise to me because as a player Bob was so quiet. During the week he had never much to say. It was only after a game, when we were relaxing in the hot bath, that Bob would speak and then we couldn’t shut him up!"

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Bill Shankly
"Bob and I never had any rows. We didn’t have any time for that. We had to plan where we were going to keep all the cups we won."

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Ray Clemence
They were two different characters, but they both had this tremendous will to win. Shanks enjoyed the media, was funny and was a great motivator. Bob didn't like doing interviews. I wouldn't say he was the greatest motivator in the world, but he was very thorough in telling us tactically the strengths and weaknesses of the teams we were playing against.

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Nessie Shankly
"Bill depended a lot on Bob. They were like the terrible twins when they got going. I think Bill needed Bob. I think he calmed him down a bit."

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Phil Neal
"Bob made us laugh probably more than you realize. He had distrust for people. In Dresden for instance. At half-time somebody was going to pour the tea from an aluminium pot and he said: 'No, you're not drinking that. It's bloody drugged. Well, you're laughing. This room is bugged as well. Come on, we're going outside.' And he went and took us outside for our team-talk. This is a serious game in the last sixteen of Europe. We're in stitches of laughter when you should be told about the opposition."

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Joey Jones
"I asked Phil Neal and Ray Clemence if they got telegrams from the boss when they were on international duty. Phil said they did, with the message ‘Good luck’. I told them the boss sent them to me when I was away with Wales. The message he put on was, ‘Keep out of trouble’."

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Ian Rush - Paisley gave Rush another chance in the striker's second season
"I had scored seven goals in eight outings with the reserves. The day before the Exeter game, as the players were walking off the training ground at Melwood, Bob came alongside me. 'Johno's injured. I'm looking for a selfish bastard to play up front.' 'I'm your man', I told him without hesitation. 'You know something, Ian, son?' said Paisley without looking at me. 'I think you might be right.'

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Alan Kennedy
"My first game was against Queens Park Rangers at Anfield early on and I miskicked with my right foot - the one I use for standing on - and knocked a policeman's helmet off. I also conceded a couple of corners and made a few errors. I just wanted half-time to come to get some reassurance from the manager but when I got back to the dressing room, Bob said to me, 'I think that they shot the wrong Kennedy!'"

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Phil Neal
"Terry McDermott once got us hysterical in the dressing room, laughing at Bob Paisley’s expense. The boss had a habit of saying the word “doings” all the time. He’d refer to opposition players as “doings” instead of naming them. So Bob comes into the dressing room and starts a talk.

Terry stood behind him with a big grin on his face and every time Bob says “doings” he holds a finger up. By the time he gets to six, Terry is starting to titter and we’re trying not to laugh. Ray Kennedy is kicking me and when he gets to 10, Ray just turns and flees into the toilet, he’s in absolute fits. We were like a bunch of schoolkids."

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Jessie Paisley on how she introduced Bob to her family
"My dad was a Man City fan and I told him I would like to bring a young man home. He asked me what he did for a living. I said he was a footballer. At this response, my dad looked pretty grim because he thought footballers were all drunken hooligans. I then told him that Bob was a professional footballer but this impressed him even less. So I told my Dad that he was a bricklayer as well. 'Oh, that's much better,' said my dad. 'He's got a proper job'."

Graham Paisley, Bob's son
"There are famous stories of him putting a box of Championship medals in the Anfield dressing room after another title win and saying: 'Take one, but only if you deserve it.' That was his mentality. He was always looking forward and moving on."

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Peter Robinson
"He appears to be a quiet man on the surface, yet everyone at Anfield knows that he has got a keen sense of humour and still plays quite a few tricks. I can remember him putting on a trilby and coming to the outside office window to ask for tickets in a very broad accent. They didn't recognise him until he burst out laughing! That's Bob, a likeable man who has won more honours in the game than any other manager."

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Roy Evans 
Bob was amazing really. He could look at a player and tell you everything about him and his judgement was always spot on. But in other areas of life he was hopeless. We'd be staying in hotels before matches and Bob always had bother in restaurants just trying to open the little packets of butter and so on. He could never open packets. If he did manage to get something open he'd do the wrong end and sauce or whatever would squirt everywhere. He had this thing with peanuts, throwing them up in the air to catch them in his mouth. The only thing was no one ever saw him catch one. They would be bouncing off his nose or his cheek or missing him altogether.

Bob knew his football inside out and he loved the horses, of course. He was knowledgeable about both, but in other sports he didn't have a clue. If we were in a hotel watching a bit of snooker on the telly, he would always predict which pocket the player was going for. He'd say, "Blue, bottom left", and the player would pot the pink into the top right. He'd be wrong every time. It was hilarious."

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Frank Keating, the Guardian's former chief sports writer, dispels one myth and says that even though Paisley didn't drink that famous night in Rome in 1977, he sure wanted to.
"The party afterwards was at the Holiday Inn, just down from St Peter's itself. It was the last of its type. It was still (just) the age of soccer's innocence then. The press were invited and the world and his wife were allowed to gatecrash so long as they were decked in red.

"A number of the obits to Paisley mentioned that, however much the champagne bubbled, the beaming manager bursting out of his ill-fitting Burton's blue suit refused to take a drink, so he could "drink in the atmosphere and the achievement".

"Well, true in fact but not in theory. Halfway through the do a big mitt gripped my arm fondly. "A Keating's a boy who should know," said Bob. "D'you think there's any chance of getting a bottle of Guinness round here?" I searched every nook. The St Peter's Holiday Inn did not stock Guinness. "Ah me," said Bob, "that means only me and the Pope up the road and Horace [Yates, the teetotal sports editor of the Liverpool Daily Post] over there are the only three sober men in Rome tonight."

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Joey Jones was an unused substitute when Liverpool beat Barcelona in the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1976
"I was on the substitutes' bench and we kept getting hit during the game by hard-boiled sweets and it was annoying me. At the end, all these cushions came flying out of the stand. I started throwing them back like frisbees and they were bouncing off the Spanish fans' heads. Bob got hold of me and threw me down the tunnel, saying: "You'll start World War Three!" I said: "Boss, they're throwing cushions at us." He said: "They're not throwing them at you. They're throwing them at them because they got beat!"

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Jessie Paisley
"Bill got the idea that anyone could come and be treated by Bob. And he did. He treated all kinds of sportsmen, show business people and even ballet dancers. But he did object one day when a man turned up at Anfield with his greyhound for Bob to treat. Bob explained that he wasn't a vet."

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Stuart Hall - esteemed TV and radio journalist
I have many special memories of the great man. He was quite simply the most wonderful man I have ever met in football but there's one memory of him that I cherish above all others.

It was 1977 and Liverpool had reached their first European Cup Final. I was working for the BBC and had this idea of filming the mass Liverpudlian exodus to Rome. In his own words Bob thought it 'was a bloody good idea'. I then expanded and explained how the BBC was forking out £3,000 worth of expenditure on the project and in return it would be good if we could film in the dressing room. 'There's no problem with that,' was his reply.

Can you imagine that today? This was the biggest match in this man's career and he was allowing Stuart Hall, with a camera crew, into the dressing room!

I also obtained Peter Robinson's permission but my only problem now was the Italian FA, who refused me entry into the stadium. 'Just leave it to me,' said Bob. 'Kevin Keegan can carry the camera's, Emlyn Hughes the lights and Phil Neal whatever else. You put on a tracksuit and wear the number 14 shirt underneath.'

So off we went on the team coach to the Olympic Stadium and into the marble floored dressing room. It was not long though before the Italian officials began to smell a rat and so to put them off the scent Bob ordered me to take a walk around the pitch with the rest of the players and wave to the fans!

When we returned the dressing room kick-off was drawing ever closer and you could start to feel the tension in the air. All the lads were going round stamping their feet and geeing each other up but there was no shouting from Bob. He just shuffled around having a few quiet words with certain players.

When the time arrived for the team to walk out I followed them in single file out of the tunnel and onto the pitch. I then took my place alongside Bob, Ronnie Moran and the Liverpool subs on the bench, having to pinch myself that this was really happening.

Watching such a momentous match as that from the touchline next to Bob was an unbelievable experience. Of course, Liverpool went on to win a fantastic game 3-1 and afterwards we did all our filming as the players celebrated. Just then, the head guy of Italian FA walked in and saw what was going on but knowing he was beaten quickly turned on his heels and went.

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Bill Shankly - Liverpool were in Milan waiting to face Inter in the second leg of the European Cup semi-final in 1965.
"But the second leg of the semi-final was not a game, it was a war. We stayed at Lake Como, and we had trouble with the church bells. It wasn't so bad until about eleven o'clock at night, when the noise of the day had ceased and there was nothing to hear but the bells. One in particular was like doomsday. Bob Paisley and I went to see the Monsignor about it. We tried to get him to stop the bells ringing for the night so the players could sleep. 'It's not very fair', I said to him through an interpreter. 'We didn't know about this noise and we've come here on the eve of the most important match in the world this year, Inter Milan versus Liverpool.' That was right, because if we had won it, we would have won the European Cup.

He was sympathetic towards us, but he said he could not do what we asked. So I said, 'Well, could you let Bob here go up and put a bandage on them and maybe kind of dull them a bit?' Crepe bandages and cotton wool! Bob was killing himself laughing. That would have been one of the funniest things Bob had ever done, one of his greatest cures as a trainer, creeping up the aisle with cotton-wool and bandages! But, we just had to put up with the noise."

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David Fairclough
He had this habit when he was talking to us before a big game of pointing to a drawer in his office and saying: "If we win this one, I've got things in there you won't believe!"But we weren't in it for the money. There was a special bond between the players and the manager and the coaching staff. We all held Bob Paisley in great affection."

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Jessie Paisley when Bob was too sick to attend a game when he was still manager
"When he was ill the other day it was agony. I stayed in the garden out of the way. He lay there, surrounded by the television, radio and phone. Then he came banging on the window, delighted, to say Ian Rush had scored. Then he was up again, banging to say Southampton had equalised."

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David Hodgson, striker who played for Liverpool 1982-1984
"In Israel just before the European Cup final, we’d been playing fizzbuzz, one of those drinking games. There was Alan Hansen, Kenny, Bruce Grobbelaar, Stevie Nicol, myself, Ronnie Whelan, Ian Rush, Sammy Lee, all drinking in the square in Tel Aviv. Things got said and a fight started. Me and Rushie were quite close so it’s us back to back against everybody else. Somehow it calmed down and I went to the hotel with Rushie and Alan Kennedy, who fell on the ground and couldn’t get up. The old Liverpool director Mr Moss was coming out of the hotel just at that moment. So I’ve got down to pick up Alan Kennedy and I couldn’t get up either. And Mr Moss is stood above us frowning. He says: ‘Gentlemen, this is Liverpool Football Club.’ So I grabbed hold of his trousers and pulled myself up his body. And I put my arm around him and said: ‘Mossy, you old bugger, you might be a director but I think you’re a great fella.’

After breakfast the next morning, they call this big meeting upstairs and around the table there’s Bob, Joe Fagan, Moran, Evoand Mr Moss, who stands up. ‘I’ve been at this club for over 20 years and I’ve never witnessed anything like last night in my life. I’ve had many accolades passed on to me, but never have I received one so touching than from David Hodgson.’ Then they lift the tablecloth and underneath it’s piled high with beer!’ After that meeting, Bob Paisley turned to me and said: ‘You’re a good Geordie, son. That’s what you are.’"

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Jimmy Case remembers the five-a-sides at Melwood 
"Sometimes it would be even seven or eight-a-side, it just depended on any particular day but I always used to get picked to be on their side. Bob would be in goal. He would put the gloves on and he used to love diving about double-handedly punching every ball that came his way. Shanks played at the back, directing things and you would have Reuben, Ronnie and Joe in there as well. They had me in to do all the running about as I was the only kid at the time. They were proper games, though. There was little holding back."

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Kevin Keegan
"Bob was so down to earth. A common phrase of his was: 'If the floor needs sweeping, I'll pick up a brush and do it'."

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Paisley was brought out of retirement to help Dalglish find his feet in management. Kenny remembers their time fondly
"I can remember being in the office one summer's day just after becoming manager. Bob and I were sitting there.
I said to him: 'What are we doing here, Bob? There's nothing happening and the phone's not ringing.'
He said: 'No, but you've got to be here in case something does happen.'"

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Jessie on Bob's pastime
"On Sunday afternoons at home, Bob would sometimes tinkle on the electric organ, although that was the day he also had the press to deal with. They would ring him and sometimes, especially if it was the southern press on the home, it was best if you got the grandchildren out of the way until he had cooled down again! But he liked messing about on the organ and could actually play the tune of Amazing Grace, which was Bill Shankly's favourite hymn and which Bob chose when he was on Songs of Praise. As well as his great love of horseracing, Bob liked listening to Harry Secombe singing and he liked looking at the garden. I used to get him to mow the lawn but it would have been rather disastrous if his gardening went further than that. If I asked him to weed the path, everything would go, plants as well!"

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Ian Callaghan
"Although Bob Paisley always seemed to be super cool, deep down it wasn't always so. He was the kind of his person who hung his emotions on his sleeve. And you could best spot this in the dressing room before kick off. By 2.45, you could tell what he was going through by just looking at his face. He would be pacing up and down the dressing room taking sips of water. He looked more nervous than the players, although he did his best to try and not show it. I don't think everybody realised that but I could see it."

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Paisley was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1992 - Jessie noticed the first symptoms.
"He eventually we had to face up to the fact in retirement that Bob was starting to become unwell. When he finally went into the nursing home, that was the worst time for me. It was just as bad when he died. He had reached the stage when he couldn't understand things. I remember the first time that happened. We were coming home from the Liverpool football ground and reached the top of our road. Bob turned to me and said: 'Where do we go now?.' I said: 'Don't be daft, Bob. You know we live down here!' The truth was he didn't know."

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Brian Clough
"There is no magic formula, there is no mystery about Anfield, it's just down to pure talent. Bob Paisley epitomises that and I am amazed that people in football, who ought to know better, do not accept the fact. He is on the same level as Sinatra in his field and nobody should question his talent. It's not the fact that he's got a bigger band or sings on bigger stages, it's just down to ability. The man oozes talent and he talks more common sense than ten of us managers put together and he probably works harder than ten of us put together as well!"

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Alan Hansen
"Bob pinpointed strengths and weaknesses better than any manager I've ever played for or ever met. He wasn't great with words but when he did say something, you always took notice because ninety-nine times out of a hundred he was spot-on. He had this line about the first two yards at the top level being in your head. When he first said it to me I thought it was rubbish. But the more I played the game, the more I realised it was so true."



Ian Rush 
"Bob wasn't a tactician ... But he knew everything. Any player you mentioned, whether on our team or in the opposition, he knew their strengths and weaknesses. He didn't say much but whenever he talked you listened because you knew he was right."

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Phil Neal
"I relate Bob Paisley's reign to the history of Julius Caesar. He came over from Rome with all his troops. He got all the way up to Scotland. We were the same in reverse going to Europe. We were the army that was never really fearful of going into the Nou Camp to beat Johan Cryuff there on the night. We had some glorious wins."

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Tommy Smith
"If Shankly was the Anfield foreman, Paisley was the brickie, ready to build an empire with his own hands."

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Liverpool chairman David Moores
"Bob's knowledge of players and the game in general is unsurpassed. Football has known no equal in management or prize-winning, but his modesty and dignity were overwhelming as he led this club from one triumph to another. His name will always be synonymous with Liverpool."

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Stuart Hall - after Liverpool's European Cup win in 1977
On returning to England I rang James Callaghan who was then the Prime Minister and told him thatif he wanted to win the next election then he should give Bob Paisley a knighthood. Make him the King of Merseyside I said because this was the greatest moment in Liverpool Football Club's history and although they'll go on to win more European Cups this moment will never be repeated. What happened? John Smith the Chairman was knighted instead, Bob got nothing and two years later Labour were voted out in favour of the Conservatives!

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Phil Neal on his Liverpool debut
"Bob Paisley was a clever man in every shape and form. He led me to believe I was playing with the reserves on Friday against Everton reserves at Anfield. So my boots were put out with theirs. He got Tom Saunders to come to my digs near Melwood, pick me up 11 o'clock. We went to Anfield and I picked my boots up and I went to Everton through Stanley Park with my boots under my arm. As soon as I got into the dressing room at Goodison Park where Liverpool's first team was due to play Everton, Bob just said: 'Get ready to play, son.' And I thought, 'if you can face this, you can get through everything, 56,000 people shouting and bullying at you.'"

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Mark Lawrenson was signed from Brighton late one Friday night and deposited at the Atlantic Tower hotel for safekeeping.
"I was nervous as a kitten. I had on my best suit, shirt and tie, my best bib and tucker. I went down to reception and the doorman spotted me and said 'Mr Paisley is waiting for you in his car outside'. When I got in the car I saw that Bob was wearing slippers and a cardigan. I couldn't believe it. That was my first meeting with Bob Paisley and I knew I'd come to the right place. They'd just won the European Cup and there was this fellow, who everyone in football thought was an absolute god, driving me to the ground in his slippers and cardigan! I thought 'you'll do for me!'"

Sir Bob quote

"Bill depended a lot on Bob. They were like the terrible twins when they got going. I think Bill needed Bob. I think he calmed him down a bit."

Nessie Shankly

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