Liverpool’s Greatest… Forward

It was Bob Paisley who said ‘If you’re in the penalty area and don’t know what to do. Put the ball in the back of the net and we’ll discuss your options later’. Some Liverpool players have observed this ancient mantra consistently over the course of their time at Anfield.

In the fourt part of our series, several of Anfield Online’s contributors have argued and debated and produced their own contenders for Liverpool’s Greatest Ever Forward.

Shortlist: Ian Rush | Robbie Fowler | Fernando Torres | Kenny Dalglish

Ian Rush

Ian Rush

Ian Rush was spotted at an early age whilst playing for Chester City. Whilst only 18 years old, then manager Bob Paisley beat Manchester City and Rush’s boyhood favourite club Everton to his signature. The transfer fee was an astonishing £300,000, a record at the time for a teenager, but Rush would quickly prove that the seemingly massive amount of money was, in fact, one of the many bargains the club would sign over the years.

Statistically, Rush is the greatest striker in Liverpool’s history, with a mammoth 346 goals in 660 games. Perhaps his greatest season would be 1983/84, in which he netted no less than 47 goals in 65 games. 3 hat-tricks and numerous doubles led him to be voted PFA and Football Writers player of the year.

Whilst not the scorer of the most spectacular goals, Rush banged them in with an incessant rhythm that will be difficult for any player to equal. Unsurprisingly, Rush holds many goalscoring records. Second highest goalscorer in the FA Cup of all time with 44 goals, record derby goalscorer with an astonishing 25 goals against Everton, and the highest number of FA Cup final goals with 5 to his tally, amongst others.

Statistics alone are obviously not the only reason I chose Rush as who I believe to be our greatest striker, but also the fact that he was deadly within the box. Rarely have I seen a player with his anticipation, his ability to be in the right place at the right time to score crucial goals. Equally comfortable with both feet, Rush would slot the ball under an outrushing keeper or into the bottom corner of the net with deceptive ease.

Whilst leaving the club for Juventus in 1987, this was for the most part not held against him, and he was welcomed back just a year later by the Anfield faithful with open arms. Whilst his time in Italy was a difficult one, with Rush scoring just 8 goals in Serie A, he returned home on fine form, recapturing his early eye for goal.

My clearest memory of him was his substitute appearance in the 1989 FA Cup Final, where he clinched the match over rivals Everton with two stoppage time goals. A player of tremendous quality whose love for the club still burns strong.

Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler

Two words and one nickname amount to 171 goals in 330 games and the title of Liverpool’s greatest forward.

Robbie Fowler had it all, pace, strength, ability to score any goal from anywhere and the most clinical finisher of his generation. Though he favoured his left foot, he could easily score on his right and for a small lad was deadly in the air.

During his two spells at the club the fans gave him the name God, for good reason. He was exceptional and the records looked to be tumbling only for his career to be hugely affected by injuries.

Not before he’d broke one record, which still stands today, and that way the quickest hat trick in the Premiership. We all know which one, that one against Arsenal. That was Fowler heading towards his prime only for the injuries I mentioned earlier to start ruining his career.

His medal collection may not be as full as some players but that doesn’t mean his ability isn’t right up there with the rest. But he did claim a few medals along the way to go with his ability, the treble of 2001 in which he was captain for large parts of despite never being officially named the club’s captain.

After spells with Leeds and Man City he returned to his club and God was born again. So I suppose the religious statement of “god will come again” is true for Liverpool fans. And even though he never, understandably, reached the heights of his first spell here he was still adored by the millions of Kopites around the world.

We all know the story of “hand of God” well our own God had a few troubles with his hands as well. Sniffing the goalline after scoring a penalty at Goodison Park in response to the accusation that he’d be doing cocaine as well as raising four fingers to the Man United fans while wearing the Man City shirt just to show their fans how many European Cups we’d won compared to their record. (As we know it has gone up to five since then)

His hands have also done good though when he honestly admitted David Seaman hadn’t touched him despite the ref giving the penalty at Highbury. Robbie took the penalty and missed. (Jason McAteer scored the rebound, obviously he didn’t hold the same sentiment as God)

Goals, gestures and God. Three reasons why Robbie Fowler is Liverpool’s greatest forward.

Fernando Torres

Fernando Torres

Very rarely do I put so much of a gamble on something. And maybe I’m being unfair on past Liverpool players who’ve taken to the front line of our trenches. But in the infancy of this player’s Liverpool career, I think we may just have the greatest yet. And I’m willing to put my head on the line for him.

The Kid (we’re in scouse land now) who we all know too well by now, has taken his skill, natural ability, determination, passion and desire into our hearts. Even though he’s from Madrid, he’s got the imprint of a scouser on him.

As a young lad he came through the ranks at Atletico Madrid and done well for his country. It wasn’t long from Atletico Madrid being promoted into La Liga that Torres was being noticed. Even though he didn’t take the land by storm, he was certainly a talent that was ready to erupt and causing many football critics and fans from across Europe to talk of him.

In 2007 Fernando Torres landed in Liverpool. There were many opinions about the kid from Spain. Could he live up to the reputation he brought with him? It’s a different game here, will he cope with the pace and physical aspect of the football that’s played here?

I for one, wasn’t sure. I’d seen him play for Atletico Madrid. And I’d seen him play for his country. While I was pleased about his signing and excited by the prospect of a good striker to come good at our club. I never imagined how bowled over I would be to see such a complete striker express himself with such deadly effect.

Torres for me, is the best striker in the world. There is nobody who thinks, moves and runs as good or as fast as him. He’s got the most perfect vision and touch in his pass. He’s brilliant with his head and has pure strength. And it’s frightening at how much he’s getting even more clinical in front of goal.

Possibly, Hunt, Rush, Dalglish and Fowler all in one player. In the front line for Liverpool Football Club. That’s why I’m putting my head on the line for him.

Kenny Dalglish

Kenny Dalglish

Putting to side his off the field devotion to Liverpool, there is no question in my mind that Kenny Dalglish was not only Liverpool’s greatest forward of all time, but greatest player as well.

Despite reaching the heights of captaincy at Celtic, Liverpool fans were worried in the summer of 1977 after the excitement of our first European Cup victory was tempered by the departure of Kevin Keegan.  Liverpool’s talismanic striker had departed abroad and some speculated the empire would begin to crumble.  Everywhere he turned, the £440,000 Scottish signing was told he had big boots to fill.

He did more than fill them as Liverpool entered their most emphatic years of football domination. In Dalglish’s 13 seasons at Liverpool he notched up 501 appearances, scoring 169 times.  In his first season he amassed 31 goals from 61 appearances.  His 31st clinching the European Cup for the second year running in the final against Brugge at Wembley.

He didn’t miss a league game in his first three seasons and when Ian Rush arrived three years later, one of the most potent attacking forces ever seen in football was unleashed.  Rush was a fine finisher of the ball, but whether he would have enjoyed the same kind of goal record had Dalglish not been turning through the vast majority of the opposition defence is open to question.

Dalglish could score goals with either foot, with his head, with his back to goal, outside the box, inside the box.  His passing stands up to anybody who has played for the reds, his through balls to unlock defences are legendary, and he had the close control normally typical of somebody who wears the yellow and blue of Brazil.

In his 14 years at Liverpool, the reds won the title 8 times, runners up 6 times, won 3 European Cups and a glut of other domestic trophies.

Those fans who saw him play will be in little doubt that he deserves the title of Liverpool’s Greatest Forward.

What do you think? Who is right? Have we missed the real standout winner? Who is your greatest Liverpool forward of all time?

Vote here and leave your comments below.

[poll id=”18″]

36 comments on
Liverpool’s Greatest… Forward

  1. The Man, The Player, it can only be Billy Liddell who like Torres now is the only reliable and successful scorer(and Billy didn’t have a Stevie G. to help him) that’s why the team was Liddellpool.

  2. Fernando Torres..

    Everything about you is like Liverpool breath…
    Keep get the dream for our Liverpool team….
    Just one way to achieved the dream..
    Hold the boal,and kick the boal until score which the dream inside the boal..

  3. I have been watching Liverpool week in week out for 30 years. i have had the honour and privilege to see every one of them in the flesh.

    the finest player ever to grace the shirt is Kenny Dalglish.

    not only did he score at a rate of 1 in 3, he made goals every week with his movement and distribution and he did it on a ploughed field by todays standards! rushies strike rate and sheer volume of goals puts him at number 1, fowler was a hero and torres is good enough to out gun them all if he can stay fit.

    but when im old and grey and i’m telling my grandson about the glorious european nights in istanbul and rome and about stevie gerrard & his goal against the mancs, i will proudly tell him;

    ‘i saw the king kenny play. what a player’

  4. rushie was the most clinical player, probably ever….. regardless of any team fowler was just unbelievable, didnt even need to look. torres could be the best , but injuries will force him out in 4 years. kenny was liverpool… its easy really.

  5. Fernando is still young and can score more goals, he can run, jump, dribble, past through defender, His goal against Man Utd this season is one of the best goals i ever seen. Feel sorry for RIO.

    As a whole Liverpool rocks

  6. Hopfully Fernando can go to be the best ever, but Robbie stands out for me. His goals from outside the box were always spectacular, and he always scored against Arsenal, Everton and the Manc scum. GOD No9

  7. to be honest i think ian rush is the better forward, my husband even agees and he is a manchester unt fan, torres is just started his career with us and will need th be there a few more seasons to be a really great player, and believe me he will be as he plays more games…

  8. only 1 winner. ian rush.this man didnt know how 2 miss.he scored goals for liverpool,for over a 10year period and beyond.kenny dalglish was the main man who created a shit load of chances for rushie,and 9 times out of 10,rushie buried them.those 2 as a partnership,they was untouchable.torres has the same ruthless streak as rush,and if he can stay injury free,will no doubt score goals for fun.torres is a fantastic talent,and can only get better.he reminds me of ian rush when he runs in on goal.fantastic.robbie fowler,awesome natural ability to score goals.but my opinion is that fowler did not fulfill his talent cos he never had a player in the mould of dalglish around him,to feed off.if he did have im certain he would have scored 300 goals

  9. No way has Torres proved himself better than Rush…….YET!
    Im certain he will make it in the future but Rush’s record is second to none.

  10. King Kenny was amazing. If he still played now, we would win everything. I’m only 14, but have heard all about the legend of King Kenny Daglish. That’s why he gets my vote. 🙂

  11. however much a fan of rush i was and despite his record, i had to pick Fowler, purely because the way he scored goals was magical and i don’t think it’ll ever be duplicated.

    i cannot believe he scored lowest in this poll (other than other).

    rush is up debate but he was definitely better than nando or dalgleish.

    I can’t help but feel that the majority of people who voted for nando never saw any of the others play.

  12. How the hell can you class torres in the same league as rush or kenny. The are true legends of LFC torres is an up and coming legend but he is nowhere near these pair.
    True he has scored some fantastic and very important goals for us but comparing him to rushie is bullsh*t he is the leading scorer for the club even beating the great roger hunt.
    It will take torres a few more years to prove his worth against them. Also the main thing for me was how many games did rushie limp out of as its nowhere near the amount torres has. In the rush/kenny era the players and certainly the tackles were harder. if you want to compare then you need to find some decent defenders to pit him against.

  13. Agree with Georgie – though well before my time Roger Hunt should be on the list for completeness – but then these debates are always slightly skewed to the more recent past.

    Kenny the best player of the four but Rushie the best out and out goalscorer so got my vote. What would we give to have Rushie at his peak goal-poaching alongside Torres?!

  14. Very difficult one, I would say all of them but Rushie edge slightly ahead of them. Like other have they are all rightfilly LFC LEGENDS.

  15. Sir Roger Hunt was the greatest but most will remember Ian Rush.
    King Kenny wasnt an out an out striker for me yet a great all rounder creator etc.
    Torres could be in the running in a couple of years time.

  16. There is one name you are forgetting and that is Roger Hunt. I don’t know the stats but he scored many and impotant goals for club and country. He also had humility and turned his hand to something useful once finished playing.

  17. sorry cant pick, every generation has a choice that suites them… for me i would have to say all of them and i never saw King Kenny play… but without any of them we wouldnt be in the position we are now… so for that i choose all of them…


  18. This for me was an harder decision to make than the midfield, defender or indeed goalkeeper !
    Basing my defination of a great striker on goals scored per game, it lead me to pick Rushie over GOD but only just especially as he played excactly twice as many games than Robbie and yet scored more than twice as many goals.
    I was originally going for King Kenny as he was bought as a direct replacement for K.K. and as such had a lot to live up to, which he admirably did !
    But both Rushie and Fowler had no such burden to bear and has we can see by their goalscoring antics they didn’t hold back, Rushie even more so as he came back to us as good as ever from his Italian Sebatical !
    Just to reiterate,

  19. Can i vote for all four??
    each and every one of them is a legend – shame they aren’t all still playing in their pomp now – what a forward line that would be!!!
    But i have had to vote for Robbie Fowler – simply because he rose to God like status while in a not so good team – Rush and Dalglish were world beaters, but with world class players along side them, Fowler played with Michael Thomas and Ovyvind Leonaardson, Torban Piecneek

  20. So difficult. One I can discount straight away is King Kenny. I never saw him as an out and out forward. Like Barnes, he was a sublime player but I like to thing of a forward as the number 9. Rush scored the most goals (Nando might break that hopefully). In fact I think in two or three years, Torres would be my choice. However, the best finisher, most exciting player of my generation, Robbie Fowler gets my vote. A win at Anfield is always great but when Fowler scored, the atmosphere was electric. His first four years were the best in my life as a Red (and we weren’t winning trophies like we had before), because Fowler was a joy to behold. I have said this before but if a player like him came to the fore now at 18, scoring the goals like he did, they would be the most famous person in the country. Look how Rooney was received and he hardly scored for the Blues as a teen.

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