One of British footballs all-time great goalscorers, former Kop fan John Aldridge bore an uncanny resemblance to Ian Rush and, after his £750,000 signing from Oxford in January 1987, he took over the great Welsh star´s role when Rush moved to Juventus at the end of that season.
He made his Liverpool debut at Villa Park as a substitute in a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa in February 1987. Then in true Roy of the Rovers style, John marked his Anfield debut with a goal, his fantastic header flying past Southampton´s Peter Shilton at the Anfield Road end.
‘Aldo’, as he was nicknamed, proved a huge success, linking up with other new captures John Barnes and Peter Beardsley in Kenny Dalglish’s re-shaped team for the 1987-88 season. He scored in every one of the first nine games of that unforgettable campaign and his 26 goals in 36 outings fuelled Liverpool’s drive to the title and a record equalling 29-matches unbeaten from the start of the season.
But John and Liverpool missed out on the double when Wimbledon´s Dave Beasant saved his FA Cup Final penalty. However, the Merseyside-born Republic of Ireland striker, who launched his career with South Liverpool and Newport, resumed normal scoring business the following season, even though Rush had by now returned after only one season in Italy.
He returned to Wembley to collect a FA Cup winners medal in 1989 and scored the first goal in a 3-2 win over Everton. The next season Aldo prepared to leave Anfield in a £1.1 million move to Spanish club Real Sociedad, but before he packed his bags for Spain there was the matter of leaving Anfield with a goal. In true Aldo style he bid his adoring fans a fond farewell, coming off the bench to score a penalty in front of the Kop in the 9-0 destruction of Crystal Palace in September 1989. At the final whistle an emotional Aldridge repaid the supporters for their support by throwing his boots and shirt into the crowd.
After a successful time in Spain, where he became a big favourite with the Sociedad fans, the lure of home and Merseyside proved too irresistible to turn down. He joined Tranmere Rovers for £250,000 in 1991 and equalled the club scoring record by hitting 40 goals in his first season, becoming player boss five years later.
John finally hung up his boots in 1998, shortly before his 40th birthday. In a club and country career spanning 882 appearances and 474 goals, he overtook Jimmy Greaves as British Football’s record goalscorer and was honoured with a benefit match against the Liverpool side of 1987-88.
As manager at Prenton Park, he guided Tranmere to Wembley in the 2000 Worthington Cup Final and his team gave an excellent account of themselves before narrowly losing 2-1 to Leicester City.
The following season with Tranmere struggling at the bottom of Division One, he resigned as manager of the Wirral club and now works in a variety of media roles, plays for the Liverpool old boys team in the Masters series and is a regular speaker on the after dinner circuit.
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