Roma

Roma slideshow

The momentum advantage goes to Roma ahead of this week's Champions League semifinal vs. Liverpool.
Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan
The momentum advantage goes to Roma ahead of this week's Champions League semifinal vs. Liverpool.
The momentum advantage goes to Roma ahead of this week's Champions League semifinal vs. Liverpool.
Serie A: Roma prep for Liverpool by beating SPAL; Benevento win at Milan
The momentum advantage goes to Roma ahead of this week's Champions League semifinal vs. Liverpool.
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal (AFP Photo/MIGUEL MEDINA)
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal
On target: Roma's Czech forward Patrik Schick scores the third goal (AFP Photo/MIGUEL MEDINA)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, celebrates with his teammate Radja Nainggolan after scoring his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at the Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, celebrates with his teammate Radja Nainggolan after scoring his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at the Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, celebrates with his teammate Radja Nainggolan after scoring his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at the Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, scores his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, scores his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick, left, scores his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick celebrates after he scored his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick celebrates after he scored his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Roma's Patrick Schick celebrates after he scored his side's third goal during a Serie A soccer match between Spal and AS Roma, at Paolo Mazza Stadium in Ferrara, Italy, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Elisabetta Baracchi/ANSA via AP)
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp momentarily paused for thought when mischievously asked what Mohamed Salah’s current transfer value would be. The German smiled then straight-batted back the question with a reply that he was “not interested” in the answer of how much the £36.9 million signing from Roma would now fetch. Salah faces his former club on Tuesday in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League tie semi-final tie with Klopp only to aware the prolific Egyptian was one of the transfer steals of last summer – even if he reluctant to brag about it. “That’s the business part of football,” he said. “Is it a bargain? I don’t know, but it’s the business. “Whatever it was, £37m, I’m not sure of the price. It was the market and other teams could have bought him. “Is it that now he’s scored 40 goals maybe we should pay £50m? You always take the risk that it doesn’t work. “He’s a very good player and we hoped, we were pretty sure, it would work out, but we couldn’t be 100 per cent sure.” Salah during his Roma days Credit: AFP That Ian Rush’s club record haul of 47 goals in a season for Liverpool is under threat from Salah emphasises just how astute the purchase has proved. So why did he slip under the radar of other clubs, who were not prepared to take a “risk” as Liverpool were? There is a feeling among the club’s coaching staff at Melwood that while Salah has doubtlessly improved as a player since he joined, it is the chemistry with his colleagues which has allowed him to flourish. Indeed, Klopp acknowledges the tireless efforts of Brazilian Roberto Firmino, another player whose role has been redefined under the German, as being a particularly key component in unlocking Salah’s potential. “Roberto makes a lot of defending work for (opponents) on the Salah side of our pitch,” Klopp added. “That’s how it is. He is the guy who says ‘come on I do it here, you go there’, so Mo is fresh for the sprints. “Mo was really good at Roma and a very, very offensive midfield player. He’s still starting on the wing but his position has changed a little bit and he’s inside at the right moment. “That’s what we have developed over the season all together. He’s also very cool in front of goal.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final Roma will face the intense pressing of Sadio Mane, Firmino and Salah on an adrenaline-fueled evening when the Anfield atmosphere will again be at its most partisan. For Klopp, however, the incessant running from the trio is the benchmark for Liverpool’s players under his stewardship, as opposed to being something out of the ordinary. “Their workrate is outstanding, 100 per cent, but that’s how football should be,” he explained. “I don’t think we should constantly praise that. That’s the situation so it’s not like we come in and go, ‘wow! Again! Thank you very much for that challenge!’ “Of course there are game-changing moments in a game but it’s their job to do that. And we expect that from ourselves.”
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp momentarily paused for thought when mischievously asked what Mohamed Salah’s current transfer value would be. The German smiled then straight-batted back the question with a reply that he was “not interested” in the answer of how much the £36.9 million signing from Roma would now fetch. Salah faces his former club on Tuesday in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League tie semi-final tie with Klopp only to aware the prolific Egyptian was one of the transfer steals of last summer – even if he reluctant to brag about it. “That’s the business part of football,” he said. “Is it a bargain? I don’t know, but it’s the business. “Whatever it was, £37m, I’m not sure of the price. It was the market and other teams could have bought him. “Is it that now he’s scored 40 goals maybe we should pay £50m? You always take the risk that it doesn’t work. “He’s a very good player and we hoped, we were pretty sure, it would work out, but we couldn’t be 100 per cent sure.” Salah during his Roma days Credit: AFP That Ian Rush’s club record haul of 47 goals in a season for Liverpool is under threat from Salah emphasises just how astute the purchase has proved. So why did he slip under the radar of other clubs, who were not prepared to take a “risk” as Liverpool were? There is a feeling among the club’s coaching staff at Melwood that while Salah has doubtlessly improved as a player since he joined, it is the chemistry with his colleagues which has allowed him to flourish. Indeed, Klopp acknowledges the tireless efforts of Brazilian Roberto Firmino, another player whose role has been redefined under the German, as being a particularly key component in unlocking Salah’s potential. “Roberto makes a lot of defending work for (opponents) on the Salah side of our pitch,” Klopp added. “That’s how it is. He is the guy who says ‘come on I do it here, you go there’, so Mo is fresh for the sprints. “Mo was really good at Roma and a very, very offensive midfield player. He’s still starting on the wing but his position has changed a little bit and he’s inside at the right moment. “That’s what we have developed over the season all together. He’s also very cool in front of goal.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final Roma will face the intense pressing of Sadio Mane, Firmino and Salah on an adrenaline-fueled evening when the Anfield atmosphere will again be at its most partisan. For Klopp, however, the incessant running from the trio is the benchmark for Liverpool’s players under his stewardship, as opposed to being something out of the ordinary. “Their workrate is outstanding, 100 per cent, but that’s how football should be,” he explained. “I don’t think we should constantly praise that. That’s the situation so it’s not like we come in and go, ‘wow! Again! Thank you very much for that challenge!’ “Of course there are game-changing moments in a game but it’s their job to do that. And we expect that from ourselves.”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp momentarily paused for thought when mischievously asked what Mohamed Salah’s current transfer value would be. The German smiled then straight-batted back the question with a reply that he was “not interested” in the answer of how much the £36.9 million signing from Roma would now fetch. Salah faces his former club on Tuesday in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League tie semi-final tie with Klopp only to aware the prolific Egyptian was one of the transfer steals of last summer – even if he reluctant to brag about it. “That’s the business part of football,” he said. “Is it a bargain? I don’t know, but it’s the business. “Whatever it was, £37m, I’m not sure of the price. It was the market and other teams could have bought him. “Is it that now he’s scored 40 goals maybe we should pay £50m? You always take the risk that it doesn’t work. “He’s a very good player and we hoped, we were pretty sure, it would work out, but we couldn’t be 100 per cent sure.” Salah during his Roma days Credit: AFP That Ian Rush’s club record haul of 47 goals in a season for Liverpool is under threat from Salah emphasises just how astute the purchase has proved. So why did he slip under the radar of other clubs, who were not prepared to take a “risk” as Liverpool were? There is a feeling among the club’s coaching staff at Melwood that while Salah has doubtlessly improved as a player since he joined, it is the chemistry with his colleagues which has allowed him to flourish. Indeed, Klopp acknowledges the tireless efforts of Brazilian Roberto Firmino, another player whose role has been redefined under the German, as being a particularly key component in unlocking Salah’s potential. “Roberto makes a lot of defending work for (opponents) on the Salah side of our pitch,” Klopp added. “That’s how it is. He is the guy who says ‘come on I do it here, you go there’, so Mo is fresh for the sprints. “Mo was really good at Roma and a very, very offensive midfield player. He’s still starting on the wing but his position has changed a little bit and he’s inside at the right moment. “That’s what we have developed over the season all together. He’s also very cool in front of goal.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final Roma will face the intense pressing of Sadio Mane, Firmino and Salah on an adrenaline-fueled evening when the Anfield atmosphere will again be at its most partisan. For Klopp, however, the incessant running from the trio is the benchmark for Liverpool’s players under his stewardship, as opposed to being something out of the ordinary. “Their workrate is outstanding, 100 per cent, but that’s how football should be,” he explained. “I don’t think we should constantly praise that. That’s the situation so it’s not like we come in and go, ‘wow! Again! Thank you very much for that challenge!’ “Of course there are game-changing moments in a game but it’s their job to do that. And we expect that from ourselves.”
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp momentarily paused for thought when mischievously asked what Mohamed Salah’s current transfer value would be. The German smiled then straight-batted back the question with a reply that he was “not interested” in the answer of how much the £36.9 million signing from Roma would now fetch. Salah faces his former club on Tuesday in the first leg of Liverpool’s Champions League tie semi-final tie with Klopp only to aware the prolific Egyptian was one of the transfer steals of last summer – even if he reluctant to brag about it. “That’s the business part of football,” he said. “Is it a bargain? I don’t know, but it’s the business. “Whatever it was, £37m, I’m not sure of the price. It was the market and other teams could have bought him. “Is it that now he’s scored 40 goals maybe we should pay £50m? You always take the risk that it doesn’t work. “He’s a very good player and we hoped, we were pretty sure, it would work out, but we couldn’t be 100 per cent sure.” Salah during his Roma days Credit: AFP That Ian Rush’s club record haul of 47 goals in a season for Liverpool is under threat from Salah emphasises just how astute the purchase has proved. So why did he slip under the radar of other clubs, who were not prepared to take a “risk” as Liverpool were? There is a feeling among the club’s coaching staff at Melwood that while Salah has doubtlessly improved as a player since he joined, it is the chemistry with his colleagues which has allowed him to flourish. Indeed, Klopp acknowledges the tireless efforts of Brazilian Roberto Firmino, another player whose role has been redefined under the German, as being a particularly key component in unlocking Salah’s potential. “Roberto makes a lot of defending work for (opponents) on the Salah side of our pitch,” Klopp added. “That’s how it is. He is the guy who says ‘come on I do it here, you go there’, so Mo is fresh for the sprints. “Mo was really good at Roma and a very, very offensive midfield player. He’s still starting on the wing but his position has changed a little bit and he’s inside at the right moment. “That’s what we have developed over the season all together. He’s also very cool in front of goal.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final Roma will face the intense pressing of Sadio Mane, Firmino and Salah on an adrenaline-fueled evening when the Anfield atmosphere will again be at its most partisan. For Klopp, however, the incessant running from the trio is the benchmark for Liverpool’s players under his stewardship, as opposed to being something out of the ordinary. “Their workrate is outstanding, 100 per cent, but that’s how football should be,” he explained. “I don’t think we should constantly praise that. That’s the situation so it’s not like we come in and go, ‘wow! Again! Thank you very much for that challenge!’ “Of course there are game-changing moments in a game but it’s their job to do that. And we expect that from ourselves.”
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Roma fear facing old friend Mohamed Salah in Champions League semi-final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
When shamed Roma denied us a Liverpool-Dundee United European Cup final
Liverpool’s Champions League meeting with Roma has evoked memories of the 1984 European Cup final between the sides in the Italian capital, when Joe Fagan’s players prevailed with a 4-2 win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. The final, though, could – and arguably should – have been an all-British affair, with Liverpool facing an extraordinary Dundee United side under the guidance of the ferociously single-minded Jim McLean. Roma’s progress from the semi-final depended on a win over United in the second leg at their Olympic Stadium amid a poisonous atmosphere, never to be forgotten by those who were present. Worse still, the outcome was regarded with profound suspicion at the time and the Scottish Football Association asked Uefa to investigate links between the Roma board and the referee for the second leg, Michel Vautrot, of France. Uefa refused but, two years later, the governing body of European football banned the Roma president, Dino Viola, for attempting to bribe Vautrot. Liverpool beat Roma in their own back yard in the 1984 European Cup final - but it could have been Dundee United they faced Credit: GETTY IMAGES In 2011, Viola’s son Riccardo, speaking 10 years after his father’s death, alleged in a TV interview that Vautrot had been suborned over dinner on Apr 24, 1984. “Roma gave a middle-man 100 million lire [£50,000] destined for referee Vautrot. That is true and a shameful fact,” Viola said. “Spartaco Landini, the director of football at Genoa, came to see my father. He told him Vautrot was a friend of his and that we could get at him via another friend, but he would have to be given 100 million lire. “He said a dinner would be organised with the referee on the eve of the game and a signal to show the deal had been done would be demanded. During the dinner, a waiter went up to the referee, saying, ‘Telephone call for Mr Vautrot.’ That was the pre-arranged signal. “Vautrot left the table and when he returned, said, ‘My friend Paolo rang and he sends you his best wishes.’ Then I got up, rang my father and told him, ‘Message received.’ “All this was done because we had a difficult game against Dundee United. Going out of the competition would have had serious repercussions.” Why I'm expecting a Liverpool vs Bayern final The possibility of Roma failing to reach the European Cup final had not been taken seriously before their visit to Tannadice for the first leg. McLean used to refer to United’s meetings with Celtic and Rangers as ‘the corner shop versus the supermarkets’. What nobody guessed was that, by the end of the semi-final, the corner shop would have encountered the football equivalent of Don Corleone. Bryon Butler, representing BBC Radio Sport, remarked to this correspondent before kick-off that he expected one-way traffic towards United’s goalkeeper, Hamish McAlpine. When half-time arrived with the score 0-0, the southern contingent was entitled to assume that expectations had been vindicated. McLean, though, ripped into his players with such fury that they resumed the contest with manic energy, scoring through Davie Dodds within three minutes and doubling their advantage through Derek Stark. United’s experience in the return leg was nightmarish. Roma fans kept up a cacophony outside their hotel on the night before the game and when the players reached the Olympic Stadium after a prolonged bus ride, they were met by intimidation. McLean said later that he had feared “for the game of football itself as I sat through the hate and venom”. He added: “There are times I feel that if we had been the team to meet Roma in the final, I might not be alive today.” Bruno Conti's penalty sails over Bruce Grobbelaar's bar Credit: COLORSPORT At half-time, a Roberto Pruzzo double had levelled the aggregate score. In the 58th minute, Vautrot awarded Roma what proved to be a decisive penalty, converted by Agostino Di Bartolomei for the winner. In the final, though, Roma were less adept in the penalty decider and the European Cup returned to Anfield for the fourth time in eight years. Yet it is tantalising to speculate how a Dundee United v Liverpool final would have turned out. The United players were not daunted by English opposition, as they showed in the Uefa Cup against Manchester United in 1984, when they lost over two legs only by the odd goal in nine. On Tuesday, when Liverpool and Roma take the field, it will be 34 years to the day since Riccardo Viola sat down with Vautrot for that fateful meal. To this day, the Dundee United players of 1984 believe they could have won the ultimate silverware. It was, instead, their sad fate to be filleted and served up in a Roman restaurant.
Roma warmed up for next week's Champions League clash with Liverpool by easing past SPAL 3-0 and keep their push for elite European football next season on track.
Serie A: AS Roma warm up for Liverpool clash with easy win over SPAL; Fiorentina lose to Sassuolo
Roma warmed up for next week's Champions League clash with Liverpool by easing past SPAL 3-0 and keep their push for elite European football next season on track.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's goalkeeper Michel Vorm (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's goalkeeper Michel Vorm (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's goalkeeper Michel Vorm (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's Eric Dier (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's Eric Dier (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Tottenham's Eric Dier (L) in action against Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (R) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women (AFP Photo/MIGUEL MEDINA)
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women (AFP Photo/MIGUEL MEDINA)
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women
Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan was one of the players to show his support for a campaign tackling violence against women
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (C) in action against Tottenham's Moussa Dembele (L) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (C) in action against Tottenham's Moussa Dembele (L) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku (C) in action against Tottenham's Moussa Dembele (L) during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
Rio Ferdinand: "Liverpool favorito con la Roma"
L'ex centrale del Manchester United punta sui Reds per la semifinale di Champions League
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
London (United Kingdom), 21/04/2018.- Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates his team's 1-1 equalizer during the English FA Cup semi final soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at Wembley in London, Britain, 21 April 2018. (Londres, Roma) EFE/EPA/FACUNDO ARRIZABALAGA EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
The untold story of Joe Fagan – the mastermind behind Liverpool's historic European Cup final defeat of Roma
At first glance, 42 Lynholme Road seems like any other three-bedroom semi-detached in Anfield. Take a closer look and there is a prominent omission outside this tidy but modest property 10 minutes walk from Liverpool’s stadium. As a venue of cultural significance it ought to be decorated with a blue plaque courtesy of English Heritage. “Joe Fagan lived here between 1958-2001,” should read the inscription. “Liverpool manager and founder member of the Boot Room.” For 41 years as reserve coach to Bill Shankly, right-hand man to Bob Paisley and then manager, Fagan made the same short journey along the streets flanking Stanley Park directly to Anfield. “He could have been anyone: a regular guy out to pick up the papers or pint of milk. This was a treble-winning manager and Liverpool legend,” his co-biographer, and grandson, Andrew, puts it. Liverpool’s pairing with Roma in the Champions League semi-final offers a timely opportunity to indulge in what Fagan himself would have found undesirable – a celebration of his exceptional but often neglected contribution to the Merseyside club and English football. Even by Liverpool’s invigorating standards, his first of only two seasons as manager was unprecedented as he added the 1984 European Cup to the league championship and League Cup. Liverpool celebrate winning their fourth European Cup after beating Roma in their own back yard – the second time the Merseysiders lifted the trophy in Rome Credit: Fotosports International Fagan’s side inflicted such a deep sporting and psychological wound with their penalty shoot-out win at Stadio Olimpico, I Giallorossi took decades to recover. Some in the Eternal City think they are still in therapy. Yet it is in keeping with a man whose official biography is entitled Reluctant Champion there is as little retrospective acclaim for Fagan’s work as during his period in charge. He never sought nor acquired it. The hierarchy of Liverpool legends remains intact – Fagan nestled in the background as trusted lieutenant, generally omitted from the list of greatest coaches – even though the feat of three major trophies in a single season evaded Shankly and Paisley. You can admire the Shankly statue, walk through the Shankly and Paisley Gates or sit in the Kenny Dalglish Stand, but the lack of similar shrine to Fagan remains a curious oversight. “He is very much overlooked, probably because he was in charge only two years,” says Ronnie Whelan, a member of Fagan’s European Cup-winning side. “But this is how he wanted it. He was the archetypal father figure, living in his little house down the road walking into work every morning. That was Joe. “He wanted to have his club close, go into training and then back to the family. You would never have guessed he was the manager of Liverpool and so instrumental in everything that happened through the Shankly and Paisley era. He was a down to earth fella who loved his football, loved his family and loved Liverpool.” History can be blurred amid the Anfield romance, but with access to his diaries, Andrew and co-biographer Mark Platt were able to correct myths. The lauded Boot Room, for example, was not Shankly’s creation. It was his coaches – Fagan, Paisley and Reuben Bennett, whose appointment preceded the Scot’s arrival – who chose the now famed venue for dissecting performances and welcoming visiting dignitaries, initially because the cubby-holed sized space was a prime location to store the post-match ‘refreshments’. Fagan’s relationship with a friend connected to Guinness Exports ensured guests were suitably entertained (they sat on upturned beer crates). “It’s just like popping down to the local,” was Paisley’s recollection. Bob Paisley shows off the league championship trophy in the Anfield boot room Credit: Getty Images Legend has it upon entering Sir Elton John, then Watford chairman, requested a pink gin. “We’ve brown ale, Guinness or whisky lad,” Fagan replied. This was the ultimate coaching school, an era when Liverpool was run with a streetwise combination of perception, sharp wit and – when required – bluntness. “There was a meeting in 1981 when he was first-team coach, which was hugely important to the club,” says Whelan. “I had just got into the team with Ian Rush and we lost to Manchester City to drop to 12th. Joe called the meeting on his own with the senior players and tore into everyone. It was the right time. He intuitively knew when it needed shaking up. Joe was quiet, but you knew he was there. It was not often he lost it, but when he did it mattered. We won the league that year [winning 20 of the next 22 games].” Fagan, a distinguished player at Manchester City until the early 1950s, assumed the Liverpool manager’s job out of duty more than ambition in the summer of 1983. The Anfield board and players craved continuity. He felt obligated to provide it. “We do not like change for change’s sake,” was how chairman John Smith explained Fagan replacing Paisley, despite at 62 being a year younger than his predecessor. Once elevated, Fagan’s success has been viewed in the context of a lavish inheritance, as if the new appointment needed only to pick the team Paisley left behind. “It is not as simple as being a seamless transition,” says 34-year-old Andrew. “There are enough examples of successors struggling to replace great managers to prove that. There was huge pressure. He did not want to be the one in charge when this era of success came to an end. He was happy to be the coach. That suited him. The reason he took the manager’s job is because he did not want it to end for the people he knew and worked with, so he came to realise he was the best man to do it. He had no ambitions to be the top dog, but he did it for the right reasons.” Paisley was replaced by Fagan in 1983, when he led Liverpool to their first treble Credit: PA This self-effacing manner meant credit was always diverted. His response on securing the league title was characteristic. “Not bad is it?” he said. “I don’t know how we did it. Well, I do really. It’s the players.” The title was secured on May 12, 1984, more than two weeks before Fagan’s greatest triumph in Rome’s European Cup final, the supreme exhibition of courage and character. Roma boasted Brazilian midfielder Falcao, and World Cup winners Bruno Conti and Francesco Graziani. They were defeated by the psychological mastery of Anfield’s coaching staff and players as much as footballing superiority. It began the day before, Fagan disarming fretful Italian journalists with his outward joviality. “Our team talk will be longer than usual for this one – about five minutes,” he said. Captain Graeme Souness tells the story of Fagan – a man generally resistant to team summits – assembling his players on the day of the match. As they sat wondering if he had prepared a Churchillian address, revealing the secrets of the scout reports prepared over the previous month, Fagan merely informed them of the time of their coach departure, his views on Roma virtually an afterthought. “They must be a good team to get to the European Cup final, but they’re not as good as us.” Fagan had earlier advised his players of a new Uefa edict, banning players jumping over advertising boards to celebrate with fans. “Be careful with the first two goals to keep Uefa happy, but do what you like when you score the third,” was his solution. Phil Neal celebrates after putting Liverpool ahead against Roma in 1984 Credit: Popperfoto Earlier this week, Liverpool’s current chief executive Peter Moore published a treasure trove of scouting reports on Roma written by another key boot room ally, Tom Saunders. “The battle will have to be won in midfield,” wrote Saunders. Suffice to say the Liverpool players never saw or heard any of it. “We were shown no dossiers,” says Whelan. “I would have been surprised if we had. Joe didn’t do anything special before the game. They had done it before and felt we could do it again.” In his diaries, Fagan explained his reluctance for players to be preoccupied with opposition strength. “Too much can bog your own team down and make you forget to let them worry about you,” he wrote. Many of the Liverpool players claim they felt calm and confident heading into the cauldron – Whelan was less sure. “Some of them had played in a European Cup final before. I hadn’t. Believe me, I was s----ing myself. This was a different level,” he said. “I remember the lads singing in the tunnel, and Souey says he never had any doubt. People ask me if I had any doubt. Bloody right I did. We were playing Roma in Rome.” Fagan’s thoughts on Liverpool’s fourth European Cup are also recorded in the diary. “Well what can I say? We won ‘The Big One’, and rightly so,” he wrote. “Alan Kennedy made us the champion with the best penalty he has ever taken. Well done the lads.” Alan Kennedy reel away after scoring 'the best penalty he has ever taken' Credit: Popperfoto Fagan regarded his second season a failure, Souness’s departure to Sampdoria weakening what had been Europe’s greatest midfield. “We were second in the league, semi-finalists in the FA Cup and we reached the European Cup final. We were close to something even greater, but that was not enough for Joe at that time,” says Whelan. It ended tragically at Heysel and the death of 39 fans, mostly Italians, before the 1985 European Cup final, overshadowed Fagan’s farewell game – confirmed on the eve of the fixture. A TV interview with the BBC’s Barry Davies a day after the violence leading to the banning of English clubs from Uefa competition is a moving reminder of a sorrowful exit. “I wanted to leave with my head held high. I can’t,” he said. This partially contributed to Fagan wilfully slipping back into being a face in the Anfield crowd. “I think he was heartbroken after the 1985 final,” says Andrew. “But it was not a completely clean break. I don’t think he was disillusioned with football and I know how much he enjoyed watching Roy Evans’s team with Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler.” Fagan’s wisdom penetrated Anfield well beyond his departure, remaining staff like Evans and Ronnie Moran leaning on his experience and methods as much as Paisley and Shankly. One employee told the story of Fagan’s approach to signing players. The scout had offered what he thought was a comprehensive study of a target. Fagan listened attentively, frowned a little and then asked pointedly: “Can he f---ing play? That is all I want to know, lad. Can he f---ing play?” “That sounds exactly like him,” says Andrew. Fagan’s deference to the talent on the pitch, and low-key appraisal of his own contribution, meant he refused offers to move to more plush areas of Merseyside, continuing to walk inconspicuously among his people, mulling over those European conquests until his death in 2001. “I walked past his old house earlier this season,” says Andrew. “After he retired he would take me to matches. Everyone knew him. To me it was walking to Anfield with a normal grandad but I hesitate to use the word ‘normal’. Clearly he was not, given his success. But he was a genuine guy without airs and graces.” It is testimony to Jurgen Klopp’s work this season that, physically and symbolically, he does not have so far to go to retrace some of Fagan’s steps.
Inter have fallen behind Roma and Lazio in the battle for Champions League qualification, but Luciano Spalletti has faith in his side.
Inter not inferior to Roma and Lazio, Spalletti insists
Inter have fallen behind Roma and Lazio in the battle for Champions League qualification, but Luciano Spalletti has faith in his side.

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