Liverpool icon Ian Callaghan on why 1977 European Cup win was turning point in club's historyby John Cross, https://www.facebook.com/johncrossmirror/
It was the night that started Liverpool’s extraordinary love affair with the European Cup.
On May 25 1977, on a balmy evening in Italy, Liverpool beat Borussia Monchengladbach 3-1 in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.
It was a match that brought down the curtain on the Kevin Keegan era, with Kenny Dalglish about to become the new king of Anfield.
The Reds had already been crowned league champions but had lost the FA Cup final four days earlier to Manchester United. Yet how they bounced back on that unforgettable night in the Italian capital.
Liverpool legend Ian Callaghan says it was the turning point in the club’s glorious history. As soon as you win one, other trophies follow, Callaghan, 78, says.
And who could argue – the Reds now have six European Cups to their name.
Callaghan, who holds the record for Liverpool appearances (857), believes that first trophy was the catalyst for what was to follow.
Callaghan said: “Bill Shankly laid the foundation. He had not been there long when he gave me my debut at 17 (in 1960) and I was there from the start.
“I played in the Second Division and then went on to win two European Cups. I think the first one is the most important one.”
Callaghan was to collect a second winner’s medal a year later, when Liverpool beat Club Brugge at Wembley, but he was an unused substitute that night.
“The 1977 triumph was one of the highlights of my career,” he said.
“Rome was special. The first time you win something it always is. It was like winning the FA Cup for the first time in 1965. It was a great performance, especially after losing to Manchester United in the FA Cup final on the previous Saturday.”
Terry McDermott put Bob Paisley’s side ahead in the 28th minute but Allan Simonsen equalised early in the second half.
Players from that Liverpool team, including Callaghan, remember the next 10 minutes as the most difficult as the Germans so nearly turned the game around.
But Tommy Smith restored the lead in the 64th minute and Phil Neal sealed it from the penalty spot after 82 minutes on a night Keegan, ran the Germans ragged.
Liverpool had already become a domestic force but European glory took them to another level and 1977 was the pathway to greater success. More European Cup triumphs were to follow in 78. 81, 84, 2005, and last season.
The game marked Keegan’s farewell (he moved to Hamburg), but Dalglish came in as his replacement that summer and took the club to even greater heights as both player and manager.
“It’s been unbelievable for Liverpool,” said Callaghan. “But that first trophy is always so important, especially for a club steeped in history and one which is so proud of its past.
“It was Kevin’s last game. He was a fantastic player and was probably the best player on the pitch that night.
“We were having success on a domestic level but then took it across into Europe. After Kevin left, Kenny came in and they won the European Cup the following year at Wembley to carry it on.”
1977 - THE BREAKDOWN
Liverpool 3 Borussia Monchengladbach 1
Stadio Olimpico, Rome
May 25, 1977. KO 7.15pm
Liverpool (4-4-2): Clemence, Neal, Smith, Hughes, Jones, Callaghan, Case, McDermott, Kennedy, Keegan, Heighway.
Manager Bob Paisley.
Monchengladbach (4-3-3): Kneib, Vogts, Wittkamp, Bonhof, Klinkhammer, Stielike, Shaffer, Wohlers (Hannek 79), Simonsen, Heynckes, Wimmer (Kulik 24).
Manager Udo Lattek
ScorersLiverpool: McDermott 28, Smith 64, Neal (pen) 82. Monchengladbach: Simonsen 52.
Referee: Robert Wurtz (France).
- This was the first European Cup final for both teams although they had met four years earlier in the UEFA Cup final, which Liverpool won 3-2 on aggregate over two legs.
- Liverpool had beaten Bruges the previous year in the UEFA Cup final, making Bob Paisley the first manager to win the UEFA Cup and European Cup in consecutive seasons.
- Five of Liverpool’s all-time top 10 appearance makers started this game – Clemence, Neal, Smith, Hughes and Callaghan. Between them, they played 3,475 games for the club.
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