Alan Hansen seriously ill in hospital

Alan Hansen, photographed outside
Alan Hansen, photographed outside

Alan Hansen, the esteemed former BBC Match of the Day pundit, Liverpool captain and Telegraph columnist, is seriously ill in hospital.

The Merseyside club, where he won eight league titles and three European Cups, confirmed he is badly unwell and sent “thoughts, wishes and hopes” to his family.

Hansen, a Scotland international defender, earned household name status after retiring as a player and becoming the BBC’s most-prized football analyst for more than two decades. The 68-year-old also spent 15 years as a Telegraph columnist before retiring from all media work a decade ago to spend more time with his family.

His former club said in a statement that “the thoughts and support of everyone at Liverpool FC are with our legendary former captain Alan Hansen, who is currently seriously ill in hospital”.

Gary Lineker and Des Lynam, who between them anchored hundreds of Match of the Day episodes featuring Hansen, both expressed shock at his plight. “Horrendous news,” wrote BBC host Lineker. “Thoughts are with Alan, Janet and all the family.”

Lynam said Hansen, who provided analysis for the BBC from 1992 until 2014, is a “thoroughly decent chap”.

The former BBC and ITV anchor said he should take a share of the blame for Hansen’s ill-fated “you can’t win anything with kids” reaction to a new-look Manchester United team that lost on the opening day of the 1995-96 season but went on to win the title and FA Cup.

“We worked very well together and became good friends,” Lynam told Telegraph Sport. “I was responsible for the ‘you’ll never win anything with kids’ comment, having asked him ‘what’s going wrong with Manchester United?’

“He always says it was the making of his broadcasting career, rather than causing him problems, because everybody remembered it and remembered him for saying it. He’s always high in my estimation because he is such a thoroughly decent chap.”

The former Scotland centre-back became a key part of the all-conquering Liverpool team of the 1970s and 1980s after being signed from Partick Thistle. He also won 26 caps for his country and was a member of Scotland’s 1982 World Cup side.

Liverpool, speaking on behalf of his family, declined to detail the circumstances of Hansen’s health but said in a statement he was “a defender of the utmost elegance”.

“The club is currently in contact with Alan’s family to provide our support at this difficult time, and our thoughts, wishes and hopes are with Alan and all of the Hansen family,” the club added.

“We will provide any further updates as we receive them in due course, and we request that the Hansen family’s privacy is respected at this time.”

After joining Liverpool in 1977, Hansen won eight league titles, three European Cups, two FA Cups and three League Cups.

Liverpool added: “‘Jocky’, as he was known by team-mates, is in the top 10 for all-time appearances for the club having played 620 matches, and the Scottish centre-back also served as Liverpool skipper for four seasons.”

Alan Hansen
Hansen won 17 major trophies during his time at Anfield during an era of Liverpool dominance - Steve Hale/Getty Images

Hansen has made few media appearances since retiring while still only 58. In his last column for the Telegraph in 2014, he bemoaned the impact of social media on his profession.

“Twitter has changed everything, to the point whereby you not only have to make sure that what you say is right, but also that you say nothing wrong,” he wrote. “There has never been a hiding place in the media, but nowadays, you can find yourself being judged within 10 seconds of publication or broadcast.”

However, he added: “Twenty-four years after walking away from Liverpool for the last time after captaining the club to the 1990 League championship, I could never have envisaged a more fitting way to end my career with the BBC and as a Telegraph Sport columnist than with a World Cup final at the Maracana.”