Phil Thompson was a cultured defender in the dominant Liverpool team of the 1970s and 1980s.
During this time, he also represented the England national football team on 37 occasions. After retiring as a player, he later served Liverpool as a coach.
He was a Liverpool supporter who stood on The Kop as a boy. His dreams came true when he signed as a professional for the club on 22 January 1971, the day after his 17th birthday, and made his first team debut the following year against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
In 1973 Liverpool won a double haul of trophies – the League championship and UEFA Cup and he played a limited but important role in both successes earning a league and UEFA Cup medals in the process. By the next season, his form had displaced Larry Lloyd from the side altogether and pushed Tommy Smith across to full back, and he settled into a strong defensive partnership with club captain Emlyn Hughes.
He man-marked Malcolm Macdonald out of the game as Liverpool comprehensively beat Newcastle United 3-0 in the 1974 FA Cup final, this after MacDonald had boasted what he was going to do to the Reds in the game. He remained an integral part of the team which, again, won the League and UEFA Cup double in 1976.
Liverpool’s most productive season followed in 1977 but Phil was to miss out. Although he played enough games to guarantee a medal when Liverpool retained the title, he suffered an injury which denied him a role in the exciting charge towards a unique treble, as Liverpool surged into the finals of both the FA Cup and European Cup.
He recovered from his injury and returned to the defence the following season when Liverpool reached the European Cup Final and beat FC Bruges in 1978. The next season he was accompanied by a new central defensive partner in Alan Hansen as Liverpool regained the title in 1979, and then when Emlyn Hughes left the club for Wolves late in 1979 he was appointed as captain and gleefully lifted the League trophy again in 1980. He continued to play frequently for England and was in the squad which qualified for a major tournament’s finals for the first time in a decade, though England’s performances at the 1980 European Championships in Italy were disappointing.
His proudest moment as Liverpool skipper came in 1981 when he lifted the European Cup after a 1-0 victory over Real Madrid in the Paris final – the club’s third success in the competition. He also stepped up to receive the League Cup after a replay win against West Ham United, the club’s first of four consecutive successes in the competition.
Liverpool manager Bob Paisley upset Phil the following season when he decided to hand the captaincy to Graeme Souness though Phil continued to play regularly in defence, winning further title medals in 1982 and 1983. He was in the team which retained the League Cup in 1982 but missed the victory in the 1983 final due to injury.
From 1984, Phil’s opportunities as a Liverpool player were diminishing, with Hansen now being more regularly partnered at the back by the younger Mark Lawrenson. Liverpool won the title, League Cup and European Cup in this year, but Phil did not qualify for a medal in any of these successes.
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