Liverpool great Kenny Dalglish thought he was being sacked for a second time when he was called into manager Jurgen Klopp‘s office for a conference call with owner John Henry – only to discover he was being immortalised at Anfield.
The 66-year-old Scot will attend a ceremony on Friday where the former Centenary Stand will be renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand in his honour.
Family, former team-mates and also rivals – including Manchester United’s Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Charlton – will be present to see the man still regarded as the best player in the club’s history recognised.
It will be a slightly different feeling for Dalglish, a non-executive director with an ambassadorial role, than the day late last season when he was called to the club’s Melwood training ground.
“Mike Gordon (Fenway Sports Group president – and the man who sacked Brendan Rodgers) was over and he asked to see me at Melwood,” said Dalglish, who was sacked in his second spell as manager in 2012 after leading Liverpool to victory in the League Cup, an FA Cup final and eighth place in the Premier League.
“I went up to Jurgen’s office and there was a laptop there and John (FSG’s principal owner) and Linda (his wife) were on it and there was another one with Tom Werner (Liverpool chairman) on it.
“John started speaking and I thought, ‘Jesus what have I done now?’ I thought I was getting the sack again.
“I thought I was in trouble and then he said they wanted to name the stand after myself, as well as for the football it was for the work done with the community with Marina (Dalglish’s wife) and the charity and everything.”
The unveiling will come less than 24 hours before the arrival of arch-rivals Manchester United for the resumption of the Premier League and Ferguson and Charlton are both on Dalglish’s guest list for the event.
Despite the public perception being of a frosty relationship between the two Scots when they were in charge of England’s two most successful clubs in the 1980s and 1990s the former Reds boss insists the pair are friends and always have been – despite Ferguson succeeding in his quest to “knock Liverpool off their perch”.
“If he wanted to get to the top he had to target Liverpool, and Everton, because when he came down here in the 80s Liverpool and Everton were winning at least one thing every year,” added Dalglish.
“I don’t even remember him saying that comment. It wouldn’t have registered with me.
“How can you criticise someone who is totally supportive of his club? He made a massive contribution to Manchester United.
“Away from working there has never been a problem with him. After the end of the game there was never any animosity or dissent from either of us, there would always be a drink.
“His actions speak louder than a thousand words, him and Sir Bobby coming over. They did exactly the same after Hillsborough. They were over here early doors.
“There is rivalry on and off the pitch but when it comes to something like that there is not even a doubt about it – they will be over here supporting us and hopefully we would do the same for them.”