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Брус Гробелар

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Guest El_Niño



Birthdate: 6 October 1957

Birthplace: Durban, South Africa

Nationality: Zimbabwe

Other clubs: Durban City, Vancouver Whitecaps (1978-81), Crewe Alexandra (loan 1979-80), Stoke City (loan 1993), Southampton (1994-96), Plymouth Argyle (1996-97), Oxford United (1997), Sheffield Wednesday (1997), Oldham Athletic (1997-98), Chesham United (1998), Bury (1998), Lincoln City (1998), Northwich Victoria (1999), Hellenic (2001), Glasshoughton Welfare (2007)

Bought from: Vancouver Whitecaps

Signed for LFC: £250,000, 17.03.1981

International debut: 12.10.1980 vs. Cameroon

International caps: Zimbabwe 32/0 - 27.09.1998 + 1 cap for Rhodesia

Liverpool debut: 29.08.1981

Last appearance: 19.02.1994

Contract expiry: 11.08.1994

Win ratio: 57.96% W: 364 D: 156 L: 108

Honours: League Championship 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1985/86, 1987/88, 1989/90; FA Cup 1986, 1989, 1992; League Cup 1982, 1983, 1984; European Cup 1984

Total games/goals opposite LFC: 2 / 0

LFC league games/goals: 440 / 0

Total LFC games/goals: 628 / 0





Player profile


An athletic goalkeeper who kept virtually unstoppable shots at bay and is remembered as one of the greatest number ones in Liverpool's history. After earning plaudits in South Africa the 20-year-old was given a trial in the summer of 1978 at Ron Atkinson's WBA. He couldn't get a work permit and was due to return back home five months later when he heard that Tony Waiters, Vancouver Whitecaps' manager, was holding trials in Derby. Grobbelaar impressed and in November 1978 having travelled through three continents in four days and played in two trial games in as many days signed a one-year contract with the Canadian side, initially as a reserve 'keeper to former West Ham star, Phil Parkes. Unable to oust him from his starting place Grobbelaar was loaned to the bottom club of the Fourth Division, Crewe Alexandra, making his English League debut at Christmas 1979 and featuring regularly for the Railwaymen until the spring, saying his goodbyes by scoring from the penalty spot in his last-ever game! With Parkes gone Grobbelaar was finally a regular for the Whitecaps in the 1980/81 season attracting a host of admirers from England, most notably Bob Paisley, Liverpool's manager.


"I will never forget going to see Bruce Grobbelaar play for the first time," Bob Paisley said. "I had an idea that he would become the next Liverpool goalkeeper even before the match had kicked off. He was playing in the Fourth Division for Crewe Alexandra at Doncaster in April 1980. Before the game, he had three of his team mates lined up on the edge of the penalty area firing in shots at him. Bruce was dancing about like a cartoon character stopping every attempt. I turned to Tom Saunders, who was sitting next to me and said, 'We can go, 'I've seen enough'. Tom Saunders and I had to travel to Canada to make a final check on him. He was playing for Vancouver Whitecaps in the North American league, but the saves he was making belonged in the First Division. And yet when we signed him in March 1981, we already had the best goalkeeper in Europe. Ray Clemence had 470 first division appearances and 56 England Caps to his name. His reputation and standing amongst the world's keepers was virtually unrivalled. Bruce walked into Anfield and told the world he was after Ray's jersey. And he said it so Ray could hear!"


Clemence left Liverpool for Tottenham five months after Grobbelaar's arrival two weeks before the start of the 1981/82 season. The Zimbabwean was thrown in at the deep end having only featured in three reserve games for Liverpool. Grobbelaar made some errors along the way, but grew slowly into his role as Liverpool's custodian. Grobbelaar remembers it as a baptism of fire. "One old man wrote to me regularly. He said that he had been watching top-class football for 32 years and if Tommy Smith had still been captain he would have already broken my legs three times. That was one of the more pleasant letters. I also began to hear the obscenities yelled from certain sections of the crowd and I took them to heart. It hurt that they were from from our own supporters." It speaks volumes for Grobbelaar's talent that he kept his place in goal from his Liverpool debut on 29 August 1981 to 16 August 1986, playing 310 consecutive games in the most successful team in England. With half of Grobbelaar's debut season gone Paisley took the newcomer aside for a serious talk. "We ended up at Boxing Day thirteenth in the League, 13 points behind the leaders," Grobbelaar said. "That Boxing Day we lost 3-1 to Manchester City and Bob Paisley pulled me into the bath area in the dressing room and he just said to me: 'How do you think your first six months have gone?' I said: 'It could have been better.' And he said: 'Yes, you're right. If you don't stop all these antics you'll find yourself playing for Crewe again.' And he walked out. It dawned on me I couldn't do all these things I used to do; sit on the crossbar and walking around the pitch on my hands and mess about. He made me realise my mistakes and made sure I put them right."


Liverpool fans can no doubt easily recollect their favourite Grobbelaar moment whether it was a moment of madness, showboating or a save that displayed his breathtaking ability. Grobbelaar was a man for the big occasion as proved in the 1986 FA Cup final when Alan Hansen's clearance was headed straight at goal with Grobbelaar hopelessly out of position. "I got back as quick as I could and made a real kangaroo leap to reach the ball. It's something Craig Johnston taught me. If I'd tried to catch the ball I would have gone into the net with it," Grobbelaar said. Johnston certainly appreciated that moment, "Brucie was a great goalkeeper and that save was out of this world," the South African said." Grobbelaar's most memorable moment came in the European Cup final of 1984 when his antics on the goalline in the penalty shoot-out put off the most experienced players. "Joe Fagan had his arm around me when I was going to the goal and said: 'Listen, myself and the coaches, the chairman and the directors, your fellow colleagues and the fans are not going to blame you if you can't stop a ball from 12 yards," Grobbelaar revealed. "That gave me the great lift, there was great weight off my shoulders. As I walked away he said: 'Try to put them off.' So that's what I did. There were two players that I tried to put off and they were both Italian internationals, Bruno Conti and Graziani."


Unless he was out injured or suffering from meningitis, as in the 1988/89 season, Grobbelaar was a regular fixture in Liverpool's goal until England's u-21 goalkeeper David James took his place in 1992/93. Grobbelaar went out on loan to Stoke in the last couple of months of the season but reclaimed his place at the start of the following campaign. James made the number one jersey his own from February 1994 onwards and Grobbelaar left for Southampton before the start of the 1994/95 season. He moved to Plymouth Argyle in League Two where Neil Warnock was in charge and later joined Warnock at Oldham and Bury and continued to play League football into his 40's. After being released by the Saints at the end of the 1995/96 season his life was overshadowed by allegations of match fixing. Grobbelaar was said to have been paid £40,000 pounds by a Far East betting syndicate for throwing a match against Newcastle in November 1993 which Liverpool lost to an Andy Cole hat-trick and also accused of trying to influence games after he moved to Southampton in 1994. Arsenal great and television soccer expert, Bob Wilson, was brought in to review tapes of the Newcastle game as well as Liverpool and Manchester United in January 1994, Norwich and Liverpool in February 1994, Coventry - Southampton in September 1994 and Manchester City - Southampton in November 1994. Wilson told the jury he had seen no evidence of match fixing as in the Newcastle game Grobbelaar had virtually no chance with the three goals and he had made three excellent saves. In the Manchester United game, which resulted in a 3-3 draw, Grobbelaar had made two saves that were of the highest order at any level in the world, which had kept his side in the game. He could not have saved the two goals scored against him by Norwich and made a "truly outstanding'' save. Grobbelaar was found not guilty on all accounts.


Grobbelaar's clownish antics made him lovable but some felt that he was too lighthearted on the field that led to him occasionally making incredible mistakes. In fact, Grobbelaar took his craft close to heart and was furious with himself if he made an error. He had acquired a different perspective on life when he was fighting in the jungles of Africa. "I never did get used to killing other men even if they were hell bent on on doing me as much harm as possible," Grobbelaar revealed about his two years in the National service in his autobiography "More Than Somewhat". "I still dream about another encounter which happened shortly before the end of my first year while we were supporting a Dad's Army unit (made of 35-55 year-old reservists) when we were fed the information that a dozen terrorists were close at hand. We selected the killing ground and laid our claymore mines in the rocks and then set our two sticks of four in ambush positions. The mines killed the first three and the rest we caught in lethal crossfire. There was just enough moon for me to see the white teeth bared in horrific screams that still ring in my ears when I have those awful dreams. Nightmares really are made of that sort of stuff as my wife and a few footballer roommates will testify having seen me wander around in the middle of the night before a big game. If war teaches you anything it is an appreciation of being alive and I will never apologise for laughing at life and enjoying my football."


Bob Paisley was in no doubt that Liverpool found a worthy successor to Ray Clemence: "Bruce is a natural between the posts. When you consider his reflexes, his agility and his co-ordination, you wouldn't swap him for any keeper you care to name past or present. The one aspect of his make-up that everybody questions is his personality. He is a man who insists on living life to the full. If he wasn't enjoying what he was doing, I think he would stop. So he plays his football with sense of fun and bravado. When the Kopites sing ‘Brucie, Brucie, give us a wave’ he waves back. He doesn't wish to disappoint them. He wants them to enjoy their afternoon at Anfield as much as he's doing. Everybody has an opinion about Bruce Grobbelaar, but it's the opinion of the men who play in front of him that matters most. If they lost confidence in him, he wouldn't last five minutes. But Liverpool defenders have always had a greater appreciation of him than anybody else. Brucie's record with Liverpool speaks for itself, and his handling skills, his athleticism, his alert distribution and quickness off his line have all become shining examples that future Anfield goalkeepers will be hearing plenty about."





Пълно наименование: Bruce David Grobbelaar

Дата на раждане: 6 October 1957 (1957-10-06)

Място на раждане: Durban, South Africa

Ръст: 1.85 m

Позиция: Goalkeeper

Играч на Ливърпул: 1980-1994



Успехи с Ливърпул:




* Football League First Division: 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84, 1985-86, 1987-88, 1989-90

* FA Cup: 1985-86, 1988-89, 1991-92

* Football League Cup: 1981-82, 1982-83, 1983-84

* European Cup: 1983-84

* Charity Shield: 1982-83, 1986-87 (shared), 1988-89, 1989-90, 1990-91 (shared)

* Screen Sport Super Cup: 1986-87


Runner up


* Football League First Division: 1984-85, 1988-89, 1990-91

* FA Cup: 1987-88

* Football League Cup: 1986-87

* European Cup: 1984-85

* European Super Cup: 1984-85

* World Club Championship: 1981-82, 1984-85

* Charity Shield: 1983-84, 1984-85, 1992-93

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Guest merseyside

Как се загроби животът на Гробелар




Всичко можеше да е различно за най-успешния вратар в английския футбол. 13 медала за 13 години в Ливърпул трябваше да му осигурят друго място в историята. Вместо това се стигна до лична и професионална драма.

През 1994 година бизнесменът Крис Винсънт обяви пред "Сън", че Гробелар е замесен в уговорени мачове. В оборудвана с бръмбари хотелска стая тогавашният вратар вече на Саутхемптън говори за продадени срещи, признава за получени 40 000 паунда за мача Ливърпул - Нюкасъл през 1993 и е филмиран как приема 2000 паунда като вноска за следващия уговорен двубой.


През 1997 по време на съдебен процес срещу Ханс Сегърс, Джон Фашъню и малайзийския бизнесмен Хен Суан Лим Гробелар заявява, че има доказателства срещу Винсънт. Заседателите не стигат до присъда. След ново дело четиримата са оправдани. През 1999 Брус печели 85 000 паунда от дело срещу "Сън", но впоследствие Апелативният съд отменя присъдата. Камарата на лордовете връща първоначалното решение, но сумата е намалена до 1 паунд, а Гробелар трябва да плати 500 000 паунда съдебни разноски. Неспособен да го направи, той обявява фалит. "Макар че излязох от съда като невинен, "Сън" получи това, което искаше. Боли ме за начина, по който бе направено. Аз не познавах системата, за разлика от тях. Те имаха ресурсите да ме пречупят. Моята най-висока заплата в Саутхемптън бе 2800 паунда. Плащам обучението на дъщерите си в частно училище, а къщите ми не са на мое име (по време на делото се разбра, че са на съпругата му). Фалитът остана единствената ми възможност", заявява Гробелар.


Защо изобщо се е захванал със "Сън"? "Това си бе дело за изчистване на името ми, не е било криминален случай" - обяснява той. - Заседателите ме оневиниха, но в Апелативния съд решиха друго. Когато отидох в Камарата на лордовете, един от тях ми каза, че трябва да крия лицето си от срам. Защо? Никога не съм направил нищо лошо. Случилото се с мен бе прецедент за британското законодателство. Съмнявам се, че изобщо някога ще се случи отново."


Гробелар обаче е боец - още от дните си като войник на първа линия в Родезия и преминал през критиките за ексцентричните му прояви на "Енфийлд", той винаги остана твърд. После отново се появи - като треньор в Южна Африка.


За пет години Гробелар бе треньор на Суперспорт Юнайтед, Севън старс, Хеленик, Манинг Рейнджърс и Умтата Бушбъкс. "Спасих всеки от тях от изпадане - хвали се Брус. - Освен това оставих своя отпечатък в Суперспорт, където вече знаят каква е ролята на треньора. Днес те не падат под четвърто място. Един ден ще се върна към треньорството. Мечтата ми е да водя Ливърпул, ама не знам дали ще закъсат чак толкова!"


Сега Гробелар живее пак на Острова. Член е на организацията на бившите футболисти на Ливърпул, играе голф и от време на време рита в демонстративни мачове в Европа за по-стари състезатели, изпаднали в трудно положение. Надява се обаче този кошмар скоро да свърши. Освен че играе голф, той наскоро се появи и в мач на аматьорския Гласхютън уелфеър. "Все още чувствам тръпката от играта. Мачът бе чудесен, с желанието си да ни бият тези момчета ме накараха да се смея. Чакам с нетърпение всеки следващ двубой. Магията на стария Гробелар още не е изчезнала", смее се Брус. "Прекарах невероятни дни в Ливърпул, а каквото и да ми се е случило в живота, не бива да се оплаквам твърде много. Дойдох в тази страна с 10 паунда в джоба, а когато лордовете ме удариха, останах с един. Имах чудесен живот само за 9 паунда!"


Сп. "4-4-2"

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Guest baivan



и сега


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Guest niki 50

Тоя пич няма да го забравя никога ,как през 1984г.на финала в Рим почна да хапе мрежата и да гъне мартинките и......удърите на Грациани и Конте у лево!

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Bruce Grobbelaar: The Elastic Eccentric

Forty years ago this month, goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar signed for Liverpool FC. Unlike anyone Anfield had ever seen before, this is the story of one of football's most colourful characters and a Liverpool Football Club goalkeeping great...

Out of Africa

Bruce Grobbelaar's journey to become a Liverpool FC player is a truly remarkable tale in itself. Born in Durban, South Africa in 1957, Grobbelaar moved to Zimbabwe with his family when he was two months old. Zimbabwe was known as Rhodesia at the time while the capital city he grew up in, Salisbury, is now called Harare. He only spoke Afrikaans until he was seven before learning English at school.

Talented at various ball games, Grobbelaar played football, rugby, cricket and baseball as a teenager. At the age of 14 Bruce was spotted playing football with his friends on a school field by the manager of Salisbury Callies. He signed for the club to play at junior level, but a month before his 15th birthday was incredibly handed a first-team debut. It proved to be a learning experience.

“I made a terrible mistake, allowing a back-pass from the centre-half to roll through my legs and into the goal,” Grobbelaar recalled in Life In A Jungle, his 2018 autobiography. “We lost 3-1 and when I came off the field I could hear the crowd shouting 'Hey Grobbelaar, get that green shirt off your back.' This was coming from my own fans!”

Four months later, 15-year-old Grobbelaar made a string of saves in a 3-1 cup win away at Bulawayo-based Highlanders FC in front of a crowd of 45,000 at Barbourfields. Shortly afterwards, Highlanders FC paid $3,500 – a huge figure at the time – to sign Grobbelaar on loan.

It was the beginning of a fledgling professional career and at the age of 16 Grobbelaar was sold to Chibuku FC, who were owned by a local brewery. He worked as a draftsman to supplement his earnings, but in July 1975 – with a year's military service compulsory in the country – had to put his career on hold and join the Rhodesian Army.

Grobbelaar served for just over 18 months and fought in the Bush War. It was an experience that shaped the rest of his life. “We saw shocking things, which is normal in War,” he said. “When you come out, you thank your lucky stars that you're alive. You must love every day like it's your last. That's probably the attitude I had in my early football career. It instilled in me to live my life for today, don't worry about tomorrow.”

Bruce resumed his career by moving to South Africa to play for Durban City FC and in April 1978 was offered a trial by West Bromwich Albion FC manager Ron Atkinson, spending five months at The Hawthorns until his attempts to get a work permit failed. He had to leave the UK, so Grobbelaar moved to Canada to play for Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the North American Soccer League.

"I used to do crazy warm-ups, a habit I'd picked up and developed in Canada – sitting on the crossbar being one of them."

His team-mates included Everton FC and England legend Alan Ball while he faced opponents such as Pelé, Johann Cruyff, Franz Beckenbaur and George Best. Vancouver Whitecaps FC won their first North American Championship in 1979 with Grobbelaar an unused substitute in their Soccer Bowl final win against Tampa Bay Rowdies.

In October of that year he was sent on loan to Crewe Alexandra FC – bottom of the Fourth Division at the time. When the Railwaymen played away at Portsmouth FC in April 1980, Tom Saunders – a member of the famous Liverpool FC Bootroom – was present to scout one of Grobbelaar's team-mates, but it was the eccentric goalkeeper who caught his eye due to his unusual warm-up.

“I used to do crazy warm-ups, a habit I'd picked up and developed in Canada – sitting on the crossbar being one of them,” recalled Grobbelaar. “At Crewe my pre-match superstition involved swinging on the crossbar to stretch my back.

“I'd pull my legs up and drop down, roll, do a few flicks, walk on my hands, jump back on top of the crossbar with the ball and throw it at the person on the 18-yard line. As soon as he touched it, I'd come back down off the crossbar, land and make a save. Messing about like that took about 20 minutes.”

Despite his uncustomary style, Saunders saw something in Grobbelaar that day at Fratton Park and persuaded Liverpool FC manager Bob Paisley to travel to watch him in a game against Stockport County FC at Gresty Road a week later.

“Before the game, he had three of his team-mates lined up on the edge of the penalty area firing in shots at him,” recalled Paisley. “Bruce was dancing around like a cartoon character, saving every attempt. I turned to Tom Saunders and said 'I've seen enough, we can go'.”

Paisley didn't stay to see Bruce keep a clean sheet that afternoon – he headed off to Vale Park to watch Port Vale FC v York City FC instead – but was a shrewd judge of players. He decided that the 22-year-old was the right man to be back-up to Clemence despite already having goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic at the Club.

Almost a year later, after lengthy discussions with the Department of Employment, Liverpool FC secured a work permit for Bruce Grobbelaar and on 15th March 1981 he became the unlikely new goalkeeping understudy to Ray Clemence. But it didn't stay that way for long...

From Clown to Champion

Grobbelaar watched from the stands as Liverpool FC won the 1981 European Cup in Paris, beating Real Madrid CF 1-0, but in the weeks after the game Clemence dropped a bombshell. After over a decade as the Reds' goalkeeper he wanted a new challenge and asked to leave LFC, eventually signing for Tottenham Hotspur FC.

Paisley had to choose between Grobbelaar and Ogrizovic, both of whom had been playing in the Reserves, but it was Bruce that had impressed Liverpool FC Reserves manager Roy Evans the most in his three appearances. In one game against Bolton Wanderers FC Reserves, Grobbelaar had shown his incredible agility by not only diving towards the top corner to save a shot from Brian Kidd, but catching the ball at the same time.

Most goalkeepers would have pushed the ball over for a corner had they got to it, but Grobbelaar had both a remarkable spring in his step and the confidence to do things other goalies wouldn't. He was also a showman, an entertainer who would interact with crowds during games and wow them with logic-defying saves and his sharp reflexes. But he was also a goalkeeper who was prone to making errors.

"It dawned on me that I couldn't do all the things that I used to do – sit on the crossbar, walk around the pitch on my hands and mess about. He made me realise my mistakes and I made sure I put them right.”

Seeing Grobbelaar keep goal for the Reds in 1981/82 was certainly a culture shock for Kopites. Whereas Clemence had been steady, reliable and consistent, Grobbelaar was erratic and capable of going from the sublime to the ridiculous at any given moment.

Bruce made his Liverpool FC debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in August 1981, but the European Champions made a poor start to the season and their new goalkeeper took a lot of the blame. The Liverpool Echo's letters page was full of complaints about Grobbelaar while rival fans labelled him a 'clown,' a nickname that the press seized upon.

“To be honest, the first six months playing for Liverpool's first-team was a real struggle,” he admitted. “I made many errors and hadn't figured out how to communicate with my defence. Sometimes I was prone to an error, but that's just the way I played. I was told to be the third centre-half, that was the reason I came out for most crosses.

“On Boxing Day [1981] we lost 3-1 to Manchester City and Bob Paisley pulled me into the bath area in the dressing room and said to me: 'How do you think your first six months have gone?' I said: 'It could have been better'. And he said: 'Yes, you're right and if you don't stop these antics you'll find yourself playing for Crewe again'.

“It dawned on me that I couldn't do all the things that I used to do – sit on the crossbar, walk around the pitch on my hands and mess about. He made me realise my mistakes and I made sure I put them right.”

Although two Grobbelaar errors resulted in Liverpool FC exiting the European Cup to Bulgarian Champions CSKA Sofia – “If the ground could swallow you that would be the moment – my two mistakes in Sofia cost us, I was solely to blame,” – his form, and that of Paisley's team, improved rapidly in the second half of the season.

The Reds reached the League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur FC, pitting Grobbelaar against Clemence at Wembley. Spurs took the lead, but after Grobbelaar made two important saves from Glenn Hoddle, a goal from Ronnie Whelan sent the game to extra-time where another Whelan strike and a clincher from Ian Rush gave Liverpool FC a 3-1 win.

Grobbelaar had his first winners' medal as a Liverpool FC player and another one followed shortly afterwards. Paisley's side won 20 of their final 28 league games to go from 12th on Boxing Day to Champions in May with a game to spare.

During that run the Reds beat Manchester United FC 1-0 at Old Trafford on an afternoon when Grobbelaar saved his first penalty as LFC's goalkeeper after reading an article in the matchday programme about where United's penalty-taker Frank Stapleton had put his previous spot-kicks. When United were awarded a penalty Bruce remembered Stapleton's sequence and dived the right way to make a save. It was one of the highlights of what ultimately proved to be a successful first season as a Red.

“They say that the first medal is the best,” reflected Grobbelaar. “I'd won my first one two months earlier in the League Cup, but winning a League title is more of an accomplishment and that first Championship was especially momentous. I kept nine clean sheets in the final 15 games and it was special not just because it was my first title, but because it had been such a turnaround.”

Liverpool FC cantered to another League title in 1982/83 and again won the League Cup in what was Paisley's final campaign as manager before he retired. To replace him, Joe Fagan stepped out of the Bootroom and into the manager's office and in his first season in charge Grobbelaar made the contribution that he is arguably most famous for.











Spaghetti Legs

Season 1983/84 was a historic one for Liverpool FC. For the first time in the Club's history, the Reds won a treble of trophies – the First Division, European Cup and the League Cup.

“I played in a fantastic side, an unbelievable team,” said Grobbelaar. “That season was a blur. We played so many games, but it seemed to go by so quickly. I had my lapses – as I always did – but taken as a whole I had a pretty good season, keeping 20 clean sheets out of 42 [in the League] and for the second season running conceding fewer goals than any other goalkeeper in the First Division.”

Winning a third League title in a row was a first for Liverpool FC – Grobbelaar's penalty save from Everton FC's Graeme Sharp in a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park was amongst his best moments – and the season ended with the Reds going to Rome with the opportunity to win a fourth European Cup. To do so they would have to beat AS Roma on their own pitch.

Phil Neal put the Redmen ahead, but an equaliser from Roberto Pruzzo sent the game to extra-time and then penalties. Never before had a European Cup final been decided on a penalty shoot-out and Liverpool FC had only ever been involved in previous one shoot-out, beating Leeds United FC 6-5 on spot-kicks in the 1974 Charity Shield at Wembley.

It started badly for the Reds, Steve Nicol blasting his penalty over, but before Grobbelaar faced his first spot-kick manager Fagan had a word in his ear. “Listen, myself, the coaches, the chairman, the directors, the captain, the team, the wives and the girlfriends and the families and the ten thousand travelling fans are not going to blame you if you can't stop a ball from 12 yards,” he said.

“That gave me a great lift,” admitted Grobbelaar. “There was a great weight off my shoulders. As I walked away he said: 'but try to put them off'. So that's what I did.”

AS Roma scored their first penalty before Neal netted his, then up stepped Italian international midfielder Bruno Conti. As he placed the ball on the spot, Grobbelaar put his hands on his knees, crossed his legs and wobbled on the goalline. Conti fired his spot-kick over. “I was ecstatic,” admitted Bruce. “I thought to myself 'this putting off business might work'.”

"When I did the old spaghetti legs, Graziani looked at me and crossed himself while I made the most of the time and served him some more spaghetti legs."

Graeme Souness made it 2-1 to Liverpool FC, Ubaldo Righetti levelled and Ian Rush – who had netted 47 goals that season – put the Reds ahead again. Next up for AS Roma was Francesco Graziani and the moment Grobbelaar will forever be remembered for.

“Graziani made himself ready by putting his arms around the referee. I didn't like that. I went and bit the net. He carried on walking, sauntering. I thought 'no', and I bit the net again, like the net was spaghetti, and I made my knees wobble like pasta softening in the boiling water. When I did the old spaghetti legs, Graziani looked at me and crossed himself while I made the most of the time and served him some more spaghetti legs.”

Grobbelaar had spotted Graziani practising penalties the previous day after Liverpool FC finished their training session in the Stadio Olimpico. He knew the Italian would shoot to the bottom right so dived that way. Realising Grobbelaar was going to dive the right way as he went to strike the ball, Graziani changed his mind at the last second, but it backfired.

“You could actually see him trying to change his body position as I've gone down,” recalled Grobbelaar. “He chipped the ball to the far side, but he chipped it too high. It hit the bar and went over. I felt ecstatic, running around the field celebrating, forgetting I was supposed to take the next penalty. In my place Alan Kennedy came in.”

Liverpool FC left-back Kennedy sent the AS Roma goalkeeper the wrong way and with that the Reds were Champions of Europe for a fourth time with Grobbelaar's spaghetti legs going down in folklore and inspiring Jerzy Dudek to put AC Milan's players off in similar fashion when the 2005 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul also went to penalties.

The 1984/85 season began with a freak Grobbelaar own goal giving Everton FC a 1-0 victory against Liverpool FC in the Charity Shield at Wembley. The Reds' goalkeeper also made a high-profile error in a 2-0 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday FC when he dashed out of his penalty area and passed the ball to Imre Varadi, who scored from a wide angle.

It proved to be an unsuccessful season for Liverpool FC, ending in a 1-0 defeat to Juventus FC in the European Cup final in Brussels, a match that was completely overshadowed by the Heysel disaster when 39 fans – mostly Juventus FC supporters – lost their lives following events before kick-off.

Manager Fagan retired after the match, as he had planned to months earlier, and a new Anfield era began with the appointment of Kenny Dalglish as Liverpool FC's first player-manager. It was time for more history to be made and Grobbelaar was very much part of it.











Kenny's Keeper  

It was sports journalist Joe Lovejoy who described Bruce Grobbelaar as 'the elastic eccentric.' It seemed particularly apt during the 1985/86 campaign when Bruce was at his best and most unpredictable, often in the same game.

The Reds took a while to get going under their new player-manager and it was only when Dalglish started to play himself regularly, following an injury to Paul Walsh, that results improved. When Liverpool FC lost the Merseyside derby 2-0 to title-rivals Everton FC at Anfield in February 1986, however, hopes of a League title win looked doomed and it was Grobbelaar at the centre of things.

“Hero or villain? Genius or clown? Will the real Bruce Grobbelaar stand up,” read the Liverpool Echo's match report. “For 73 minutes the controversial keeper was in line for Liverpool's man-of-the-match...then the Jekyll and Hyde streak that haunts him mercilessly returned.”

Grobbelaar had made a number of goal-costing errors already that season and when Kevin Ratcliffe's 25-yard shot caught him out of position and squirmed through his grasp it led to a defeat that left Liverpool FC eight points behind the Blues with 12 games to play.

It was suggested by pundits that his errors had cost the Reds 15 points and when he made another mistake a week later (his fourth in four consecutive televised games when only one live game was screened per weekend) at Tottenham Hotspur FC it looked like the pressure would really be on the Zimbabwean international until a last minute Ian Rush goal gave Liverpool FC all three points.

“Bruce was the most relieved man in the ground when I scored the goal,” said Rush afterwards. “I'm glad for him that I got the winner.” So too was the man himself. “After all the publicity I've been getting it was a poor show to make a mistake like that,” he admitted. “Fortunately the lads pulled it round for me.”

What nobody knew at the time was that Rush's goal would be a huge turning point in Liverpool FC's season. It set the Reds off on a run of 11 wins and one draw in 12 games that saw leaders Everton FC overhauled and Dalglish clinch the title himself when his goal at Stamford Bridge was enough to beat Chelsea FC 1-0.

Everton FC had the chance to gain revenge the following weekend in the first all-Merseyside FA Cup final and Gary Lineker gave the Blues a half-time lead. Early in the second half Grobbelaar had an altercation with Jim Beglin, squaring up to the Reds' left-back and pushing him in the shoulder after the pair left a loose ball for each other. They quickly made up and before long Rush equalised. Then came Grobbelaar at his brilliant best.

"Afterwards, Jim Beglin and I clinked glasses and toasted our most successful ever domestic season."

He was out of position when a clearance by captain Alan Hansen was headed back goalwards by Graeme Sharp. It looked a goal all the way until Grobbelaar displayed breathtaking athleticism and agility to dash back to his goalline and flick the ball over the crossbar. “I made a real kangaroo leap to reach the ball,” he said, “It's something Craig Johnston taught me.”

It was a pivotal save as moments later Aussie Red Johnston put Liverpool FC ahead before another Rush strike sealed Liverpool FC's first ever league and FA Cup double. “Afterwards, Jim Beglin and I clinked glasses and toasted our most successful ever domestic season.”

Everton FC were also Liverpool FC's first opponents the following season in the Charity Shield at Wembley. Ten minutes into the second half Grobbelaar pulled a stomach muscle and had to be replaced by Mike Hooper. The injury ruled him out for eight games and ended Bruce's remarkable run of making 310 consecutive appearances for the Reds in all competitions since his debut half a decade earlier.

He also missed the final four games of the 1986/87 campaign after breaking his elbow against Manchester United FC at Old Trafford on Easter Monday, incredibly playing on for the final 18 minutes with the use of just one arm as substitute goalkeepers weren't permitted for league games at the time. A couple of months earlier he had cheekily kept the crowd entertained at a snow-covered Anfield during a game against Luton Town FC by throwing snowballs at a linesman!

Liverpool FC finished that campaign without silverware, but with Rush moving on to Juventus FC Dalglish rebuilt his attack with John Aldridge, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley and Ray Houghton all coming in. The Reds subsequently swept their way to the league title in 1987/88, playing some of the best football Anfield had ever seen while Grobbelaar kept 23 clean sheets.

Only a shock FA Cup final loss to Wimbledon FC denied Kenny's men another double, but Grobbelaar did a spot of rapping on Liverpool FC's FA Cup final song The Anfield Rap while wearing giant foam gloves for the video. “I'm rapping now, I'm rapping for fun, I'm your goalie, your number one, you can take the Mick, don't call me a clown, any more lip and you're going down!”

Unfortunately for Bruce, he went down with viral meningitis in September 1988 and spent 10 days in Arrowe Park Hospital on the Wirral. The virus ruled Grobbelaar out of action for four months – the longest absence of his Liverpool FC career – before he returned in January 1989.

On 15th April 1989, Liverpool FC played Nottingham Forest FC in the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. Ninety-six Liverpool FC supporters – children, men and women – lost their lives at Sheffield Wednesday FC's stadium.

It was behind Leppings Lane end goal that Grobbelaar was keeping in the first half where the tragic events unfolded and after hearing those affected calling for help and realising what was happening, the Liverpool FC goalkeeper twice called for a policewoman to open a gate in the perimeter fence.

“I still dream about the Hillsborough tragedy,” wrote Bruce in his 2018 autobiography. “Nightmares haunt me. I ask myself again and again, 'could I have helped those people any more?' I carry the 96 with me. I sign my autographs with 96 on them. The 96 will always be with me. I will never forget them.”

Liverpool FC returned to action a couple of weeks after the Hillsborough disaster and went on to win the FA Cup, beating Everton FC 3-2 in the final at Wembley, but missed out on the League title with the last kick of the season after Arsenal FC's Michael Thomas scored at Anfield to give the Gunners the 2-0 win they required.

The Reds got over that blow to win an 18th League title in 1989/90, Grobbelaar playing in all 38 league games, and were top of the First Division in February 1991 when the stresses and strains of leading Liverpool FC through the aftermath of Hillsborough finally caught up with Dalglish and he resigned as manager. It was also the beginning of the end for Grobbelaar's Anfield career.























The Leaving of Liverpool

Bruce's former team-mate Graeme Souness took over as Liverpool FC boss in April 1991, but it was Arsenal FC who went on to win the League. Grobbelaar remained first choice goalkeeper in 1991/92, but it was a season of transition and the Reds finished sixth in the First Division – the first time Liverpool FC had finished outside of the top two since Bruce had been at the Club. He was also dropped for the first time, Hooper coming in for a couple of games until suffering an Achilles tendon injury.

Despite the disappointing League campaign, there was glory in the FA Cup. The Reds faced Portsmouth FC in the semi-final and when the replay at Villa Park went to penalties a save by Grobbelaar from Warren Neill, plus misses by Martin Kuhl and John Beresford, sent Liverpool FC to the final to play AFC Sunderland.

Goals from Michael Thomas, who had been signed by Arsenal FC, and Rush, who had returned from Juventus FC in 1988, ensured a 2-0 win for Liverpool FC against AFC Sunderland and Grobbelaar celebrated his 13th – and final – major honour with the Club by taking a LFC umbrella on the lap of honour at Wembley.

"As I shook Tim Flowers' hand before the game I said 'Tim, there's a bunch of flowers in the Kop end – those are the only Flowers that are ever coming to Liverpool'."

That summer, as part of a policy to bring in younger players ahead of the maiden Premier League season, Souness signed goalkeeper David James from Watford FC. Grobbelaar played in the Charity Shield against Champions Leeds United FC and was told by Souness he remained his number one, but Liverpool FC's first Premier League game – away at Nottingham Forest FC – clashed with Zimbabwe's African Cup of Nations tie against South Africa.

With it being the first competitive game South Africa had played since the end of apartheid and Nelson Mandela being released from prison, plus a complex issue regarding becoming a Zimbabwean passport holder again, Grobbelaar opted to go away on international duty. It cost him his place in the Liverpool FC team.

He made just five Premier League appearances in season 1992/93, most notably on the final day of the campaign when he saved a penalty from Tottenham Hotspur FC's Teddy Sheringham in a 6-2 win at Anfield. Grobbelaar was selected to play away to FC Spartak Moscow in the European Cup Winners' Cup, but received the first red card of his Liverpool FC career for a professional foul as the Reds lost 4-2. He also spent a couple of months out on loan at Stoke City FC.

It looked like Bruce's Liverpool FC career was coming to an end, but in season 1993/94 came a surprise reprieve. With Hooper sold to Newcastle United FC and James injured, Grobbelaar started the season in goal at the age of 35.

Speculation continued that the Reds were in the market for a new goalkeeper with Southampton FC's Tim Flowers linked with a move to Merseyside. Ever the exhibitionist, Grobbelaar responded to the rumours when the Saints visited Anfield.

“I put a bunch of Flowers in the Kop end goal,” he recalled. “As I shook Tim Flowers' hand before the game I said 'Tim, there's a bunch of flowers in the Kop end – those are the only Flowers that are ever coming to Liverpool'.” The Reds won 4-2, young Robbie Fowler netting a hat-trick, and Tim Flowers signed for Blackburn Rovers FC.

Grobbelaar also made headlines when he had an altercation with Steve McManaman on the pitch at Goodison Park after conceding a goal in a 2-0 reverse at Goodison Park and in January 1994, with the Reds struggling, Souness left his position as Liverpool FC manager.

Assistant manager and Bootroom legend Roy Evans took charge and continued with Grobbelaar in goal, but just a few weeks later the 36-year-old goalkeeper pulled a hamstring during a game against Leeds United FC at Elland Road. It was Grobbelaar's 628th and final appearance for Liverpool FC and his 440th in the league. After 13 years service, he left the Club in the summer of 1994 on a free transfer before signing for Southampton FC.

Bruce continued playing into his forties, eventually retiring aged 42 in 1999 – although he made occasional appearances for Non-League clubs with his final game coming for Yorkshire minnows Glasshoughton Welfare AFC at the age of 49!

Ultimately, despite the clangers and controversies, Grobbelaar is remembered as an unorthodox entertainer, an elastic eccentric and a Liverpool FC goalkeeping great. The 13 major honours he won as a Red puts him level with Ray Clemence as the Club's most decorated goalkeeper, his 267 clean sheets is second only to the 323 kept by Clem and he remains 10th in the all-time most league appearances for Liverpool Football Club.

Quite simply, there has never been another goalkeeper quite like Bruce Grobbelaar.






















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