Liverpool-born David Johnson always seemed destined to have an impact in his home city – and he went on to cross the Merseyside divide in a way very few players have managed.
For a long time, Johnson, who has died at the age of 71, was the only man to score a winning goal for both Everton and Liverpool in a Merseyside derby, with Peter Beardsley also achieving the feat when he scored for the Toffees in 1992.
Known as ‘Doc’, Johnson had a knack of netting important goals as he also bagged on his Everton debut, his FA Cup, League Cup and European bows and on his maiden England appearance, and is remembered fondly by the clubs either side of Stanley Park.
He had two spells with the Toffees, but was far more successful in six years at Anfield, winning four league titles, two League Cups, three European Cups and the UEFA Super Cup in one of Liverpool’s most dominant periods.
Johnson always seemed set to make his mark in the city where he was born.
He was a Liverpool fan and stood on the Kop with his family as a youngster, but that did not count for much as he joined the youth set-up at Goodison Park, making his debut as a 19-year-old and finding the net in a 2-2 draw against Burnley.
He was soon getting noticed across the park as the great Bill Shankly was keen to take him to Anfield, but Everton held firm and instead sold him in 1972 to Ipswich, where he went on to play for Bobby Robson.
He excelled at Portman Road as part of a successful Ipswich side which won the Texaco Cup in 1973, and his form saw him earn an England call-up in 1975.
He grabbed a brace on his international debut in a 2-2 draw with Wales and also memorably scored two in a 3-1 win over Argentina in 1980 – a match memorable for being Diego Maradona’s first appearance on British soil.
The forward pined for a return home and Liverpool eventually got their man in 1976, making him a £200,000 club record signing.
Although never a regular starter as he battled for a place with the likes of Kenny Dalglish, John Toshack and David Fairclough, he made his contribution, scoring 27 goals in all competitions in the 1979-80 campaign.
The medals flowed as Liverpool were the best side in Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s, with four league titles and three European Cups among many honours that Johnson claimed.
After a brief spell as a player-manager at Barrow in the mid-1980s, he retired and returned to Anfield, hosting in the club’s executive lounges and working as a radio pundit.