I remember that day in the spring of 1977. It was the first time I heard the name Kenny Dalglish. Liverpool had just broken the British transfer record to sign him as a replacement for the departing Kevin Keegan. The first question came to my mind then was: “Who is this guy?” I didn’t follow the Scottish league then. After I had read about him, I became familiar with his achievements with Celtic.
“But this is the English league”, I thought. Was he good enough to replace the one and only on the Liverpool roster? Keegan was my idol and I was very sad to see him leave. Before he left, Keegan delivered the long sought-after cup, the European Cup, and almost helped Liverpool achieve the treble.
Would Dalglish be able to replicate that? Many questions and doubts with no answers. I didn’t know what destiny had installed for him and for Liverpool Football Club.
It wasn’t long before the answers were clear to me and to the world. In the next thirteen and a half years, the world would witness one of the most dramatic periods, not only in the history of English soccer, but also in the history of the world. It would take Kenny Dalglish on an epic journey that would be engraved in the minds of Liverpool fans for ever.
This period was filled with all kind of emotions. From the highs of winning the most important trophies in England and Europe, multiple times, to the lows of the Heysel stadium disaster, where Liverpool hooligans’ action led to the death of 39 Juventus fans. I remember that game very vividly. It was the first time that I questioned my allegiance to Liverpool club. “Was it worth it?” I said.
The resignation of the manager, Joe Fagan, afterward sent a clear message that what happened could not be tolerated by club. When Kenny Dalglish agreed to take the helm as a manager/player, it was like a new beginning. He brought more success and more trophies. Then, another disaster struck.
The Hillsborough disaster claimed 96 innocent victims. This time, the victims were Liverpool fans. It struck a painful chord in everyone’s heart. What was happening to this great club? Why after every hugely successful period, we got even a bigger disaster?
This time, Dalglish had to walk a difficult road. He took the responsibility of comforting those grieving family on his shoulder. But how much can this shoulder lift? There is a limit for every thing. His departure was the massive price that Liverpool had to pay. The good man could not fight the evil forces that were taking the club on a rollercoaster ride, anymore.
When he left the club, he took with him all the good fortune he brought. Liverpool went into a dark period, as if the Gods of soccer had abandoned it. Many hopeful saviors have come and gone but to no avail. There were few glimmers of hope, now and then, but nothing to last longer than a heart beat.
Sadness and despair filled all the corners of the Anfield Stadium.
Then, a shining bright light struck the Liverpool football club. It was the spring of 2009. Liverpool went on a dream run, conquering the biggest clubs in the world. For a short period of time, it reminded us the good old days. “What is happening?” was the dominant question.
All analysts tried to figure out the puzzle but they couldn’t reach an agreement. Only the true Liverpool fans knew the answer. They looked at the corner where the administrators sit. Here it was – the face of the Prodigal Son. He has returned. They knew immediately what it needed to be done. Destiny helped shaped the next year and a half of the club’s fortune to open the door for his return.
But I, the ever doubting Thomas, still look at destiny with a great suspicion. There were many great comebacks, before, and many failed ones. What will this comeback be? Is he going to take the club back to its glory days? Or is it going to be like Zinedine Zidane’s return to the World Cup that ended in shame?
I have to wait a little longer to find the answer.
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