Paisley's opinion on Steve Nicol

There cannot be a better utility player in the Football League than Steve Nicol. I doubt if there is another player with his confidence and bottle. We used him as a substitute in the European Cup Final in Rome in May, 1984, and he came on as a replacement for Craig Johnston and was one of the 11 players who had to face the prospect of a penalty shoot out with the richest trophy of them all depending on the accuracy of the spot-kickers and the expertise of two goalkeepers. At the time Steve had started fewer than two dozen games for the Liverpool first team but he was the first player to step forward and volunteered to take one of those decisive penalties. It was an astonishingly brave decision for someone with so little experience at the highest level and I am sure everyone in the Liverpool camp felt for Steve when he stepped up and slammed that first penalty high over Tancredi’s crossbar into the hoards of Romans in the crowd behind his goal.

Fortunately that miss was forgotten as Phil Neal, Graeme Souness, Ian Rush and finally Alan Kennedy stepped up to score to give Joe Fagan his third major trophy in his first season as my successor. That night helped convince all of us that Steve was a gem. I had signed him from Ayr United in October, 1981, principally as an eventual replacement for Phil Neal at right back. That had always been his favourite position and the position he feels is best suited to his style.  

He has the advantage of being genuinely two-footed and a lot of people believe that the current Liverpool side is at its strongest when he is playing in that right back role. He is more than capable of taking on defenders and is an accurate crosser of the ball. But he is far more than a full back and in recent seasons has been the most versatile of all the players on the club’s books. No-one who was there – or among a vast television audience – will ever forget a sparkling hat-trick he scored against Newcastle United in an early match during 1987-88. Each goal was, in itself, a masterpiece as he rattled three goals past Gary Kelly to keep the Liverpool momentum going in what could have been a tricky away match.

Even though he had been bought as Phil Neal’s successor he got his first break when Craig Johnston was injured and wasted no time staking his team place on the right hand side of midfield. Since then he has played on the left and also had a more than successful spell in the heart of the defence when Alan Hansen was hospitalised for most of the 1988-89 season. One of the best known facts about Steve wears the biggest boots of anyone on the club’s books. He is also one of the biggest talents at the club!"

Copyright - Clive Tyldesley from his book "Bob Paisley's personal view of the First Team Squad of 1986-87".  

Sir Bob quote

"Loved the man to bits - was simply THE best manager I have ever seen. I remember being taken to the FA Cup 3rd round at Stamford Bridge back in 1982, I was 11yrs old. Walking to the stand where we were sitting, I remember my mates dad (Frank) saying "Look who's coming, it's the Great Man himself". I looked up and scanned the area for a matter of seconds. Then, I knew who he meant - Bob Paisley was walking directly towards us and there I was, draped in red and white round my neck and on top of my head. Frank, who was 'known' in the football world, held out his hand to Bob and we stood there for about 3 minutes chatting with the Great Man. I remember to this day, the warm, smooth, gigantic hand that smothered mine as we finally shook hands. I didn't speak a word until I was spoken to....he asked if I was looking forward to the match and make sure I had a good one! A gentle 'scruff' on the head and we parted company...me looking round at who we had just met! I was beaming from ear to ear and could have gone home there and then.
The result in the end, 2-0 to Chelsea, didn't really matter....I'd met the Great Man himself."

-El Phes- (a member of RAWK forum)

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