With Liverpool facing Cardiff City this weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to look back at three former Welsh players who have represented the Reds over the years.
We start with a player who also played for this weekend’s opponents, as well as the Reds. Toshack spent five-years in South Wales, scoring 100 goals in 207 games for the Bluebirds. In November 1970, Bill Shankly splashed out £110,000 to sign the forward, a club record fee at the time.
Just over a week after completing a move, Toshack immediately established himself in Anfield folklore when his 76th-minute header started off a remarkable comeback against fierce rivals Everton. The Toffees were 2-0 up at the time before they would end up blowing their lead and losing the game 3-2. This was the first of 96 goals that the Welshman would score during his eight-year tenure at the Reds.
The 1973 UEFA Cup final against Borussia Monchengladbach was one of the highlights of Toshack’s career. After initially being left out of the starting eleven for the first-leg which was abandoned due to the rain, Toshack was brought in 24 hours later and ended up collecting two assists as the Reds cruised to a 3-0 victory. Over his eight years at Liverpool, Toschack won three Football League First Division titles, one FA Cup, two UEFA Cups, and one UEFA Super Cup.
Here comes undoubtedly the most iconic of the trio of players I’ve selected. Signing from Chester City in 1980, Rush’s first appearance in the famous red came away at Ipswich Town when he stood in for the injured Kenny Dalglish. His first goal came just over a year after his arrival when he netted in the European Cup against Oulu Palloseura. This was just the start of a season in which Rush would go on to net 29 more goals across the season, the highlight being his goal at Wembley, as Liverpool lifted the League Cup with a 3-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur.
His first spell at Anfield saw him score 207 goals in 331 appearances. During that period he helped the club win four Football League First Division titles, one FA Cup, four League Cups, and two European Cups.
A transfer to Juventus would see him leave English football for a fee of £3.2m, a new British record at the time. However, he spent just one full season Turin before moving back to Anfield. Added to his earlier total, Rush played for the Reds on 660 occasions, scoring 346 in the process, meaning he remains the clubs all-time top goalscorer. His second spell at the club saw him win another First Division title, another FA Cup and also another League Cup.
Like Toshack, next is a player who featured for both Liverpool and Cardiff City. After scoring seventeen goals and guiding Blackburn Rovers to a sixth-placed finish, Rafa Benitez swooped in to sign the feisty forward in the summer of 2006. Bellamy got off to a perfect start as he managed to score on his debut for the Reds in a Champions League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa.
His maiden spell at Anfield saw him net nine goals in 41 appearances, the most famous being his equaliser against Barcelona at the Camp Nou. The goal was followed with a golf swing celebration from Bellamy, a reference to when he attacked teammate John Arne Risse with a golf club just weeks before the game.
Despite being popular amongst a lot of Kopites, the summer window saw him complete a move to West Ham for £7.5m, a club record at the time for the Hammers. Many fans questioned why he was let go. However the arrival of Fernando Torres at Anfield, added with his reported weak relationship with Benitez, probably meant that the opinionated Welshman wasn’t going to get the game time he’d have liked.
Four years later though, Kenny Dalglish brought Bellamy back to Merseyside in a transfer from Manchester City. A few months later, he would then go onto score against the Citizens to send the Reds through to the League Cup final, dumping out his old side in the process. His goal set him up a dream final against his boyhood club Cardiff City. The game finished 2-2 after extra-time, with the Reds going onto win 3-2 on penalties. However, Bellamy did not take one which was a surprise giving his sharp finishing ability. In total, the ‘nutter with the putter’ scored eighteen goals in 74 appearances for Liverpool.