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Legendary player, coach & supporter – Sammy Lee’s Liverpool Life

With a long career in football that may not yet be over, Sam Millne sat down with two-time European Cup winner Sammy Lee to discuss his Liverpool life.

Not many in football can match the CV that Lee has built over the years.

After winning 10 major trophies in 10 years with his boyhood club, Liverpool, Lee finished his playing career then went on to have an influential coaching career.

Since retiring from playing, he has worked with legendary managers, including Gerard Houllier, Rafa Benitez, Kenny Dalglish and Sven-Goran Eriksson, all while maintaining his passion for Liverpool.

We spoke about Lee’s Liverpool life as a player, coach and supporter.

 

I started supporting Liverpool because…

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, February 25, 2001: Liverpool's coach Sammy Lee celebrates after winning the Football League Cup Final match between Liverpool FC and Birmingham City FC at the Millennium Stadium. The match ended in a 1-1 draw after extra-time, Liverpool won 5-4 on penalties. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In this city you’re either red or blue, aren’t you? So it was from birth.

 

Can you remember your first Liverpool match?

One of my first ones I’d have been six years old. We drew with Ajax 2-2 at Anfield – the great Johan Cruyff was in there.

We got beat in the first leg 5-1 and came back here, Bill Shankly was in charge. It was a foggy night over in Ajax and Shanks, the man he was, blamed the defeat on the fog.

So Liverpool actually wore yellow shirts against the great Ajax here in 1966. It was a foggy night then because it was one of them nights when the steam was coming off the Kop, the body heat generated that.

I was taken to Anfield at a very early age by my father and then by my cousins and it was a joy, but that’s the one I remember more than anything first and foremost.

 

Which one game would you relive, whether that be as a player, coach or supporter?

2J0RD2N 1984 European Cup Final at Stadio Olimpico, Rome. Liverpool 1-1 As Roma. Liverpool won 4-2 on penalties. Liverpool team and management staff celebrate with the trophy after the match. Holding the trophy in centre is manager Joe Fagan, flanked by Phil Neal on the left and Sammy Lee on the right. 30th May 1984.

I’ve had many. I’ve been very, very fortunate to play with some fantastic players, work under and work with fantastic coaches and managers, but the one that sticks in my mind of many is my debut.

That’s because there was only one substitute at the time and what happened at the time was that Liverpool players very, very rarely got injured, because if you got injured you’d lose your place and struggle to get back in.

I was on the subs bench. There’s a picture of me in the dugout on my own, not for one minute thinking I’d get on the pitch.

But a colleague of mine got injured, it allowed me to come onto the pitch and if you Google Sammy Lee, Sammy Lee and goals don’t go together.

But I came on against Leicester and I actually scored a goal on my debut in front of the Kop.

So for me as a young boy growing up being a Liverpool supporter, to actually play for Liverpool Football Club, to actually play in front of the Kop, to actually score in front of the Kop on my debut was something that I will never ever forget.

 

My favourite Liverpool season has been…

MONACO, FRANCE - Friday, August 24, 2001: Liverpool's management team L-R: Phil Thompson (assistant manager), Sammy Lee (coach), Dave Galley (physio), Jaques Crovesier (coach), Gerard Houllier (manager) with the UEFA Super Cup trophy after beating Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

My whole journey has been fantastic, whether it be as a player for and against Liverpool Football Club, or whether it be as a coach for and against Liverpool Football Club.

It’s just gave me so much this journey and I’ve got an awful lot to thank this football club for.

 

What does Liverpool mean to you?

Well, Liverpool Football Club means everything to me. Everything I am today has been formed by Liverpool Football Club.

 

My 3 dinner guests from Liverpool’s past or present would be…

I’m very fortunate because we go out for lunch with a group of the players.

There’s me, there’s Phil Thompson, there’s Ian Callaghan who would definitely be one of my dinner guests, and Aldo (John Aldridge), Bruce Grobbelaar. We quite often go out together, and John Barnes.

But one would be Cally. Certainly one would be the great Bill Shankly and it would have to be Jurgen Klopp.

So we’re talking about Shanks, Cally and Jurgen and for me. I’d hope it would be a long, long lunch.

 


* Thanks again to Sammy Lee for sharing his ‘Liverpool Life’ with us.

You can hear more from him in our documentary, Jurgen Klopp: 10 Defining Moments, here.