June 25, 1977
Phil Thompson, Liverpool’s lean, lanky Kirkby born defender, helped transform the club’s defensive set-up when he came into the team as a regular in the 1972-73 season. When Larry Lloyd and Chris Lawler were injured, he played alongside captain Emlyn Hughes in the heart of the defence as Liverpool became one of the first teams to operate without a recognised centre half. It’s a partnership that has brought Liverpool success ever since although Thompson was cruelly denied through injury a place in the side that won the European Cup, his place going to Tommy Smith.
Over the years, his physique has been commented on by fans and indeed, former manager Bill Shankly once said of him that his protégé had tossed up with a sparrow for legs and lost.
Nevertheless, those legs helped him to become the first player in English football history to win a League championship medal, a UEFA Cup medal and a Central League plaque in one season in 1973.
As Thompson himself once said: “I haven’t got a big frame and people think they can take advantage of me. That is where the heart takes over – Kirkby people are like that.”
At 23, he is already a full England international.
Extremely proud of his Kirkby roots, Thompson was brought up in the warm, friendly atmosphere of a large family in Southdene. He grew up playing football up and down the street and as a schoolboy played for five different teams a week. He was also a local champion at cross country running.
He joined Liverpool as an apprentice at 15, on leaving Brookfield School, and signed as a professional at 17, in 1971. He made his first team debut a year later and won his first cap for England against Wales at Wrexham in January, 1975, on his 21st birthday.
Thompson, who enjoys the life that first class football has given him, now lives in the Maghull area.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: June 25, 1977; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited