At about 9 am GMT on December 4. Kenny Dalglish will. barring injuries. make history as the first player to represent Scotland one hundred times. At the moment. 34 year old Dalglish has ninety eight caps and ifeverything goes to plan he should reach the magic figure in the World Cup qualifying match against Australia in Melbourne. He may well have double cause for celebration. as he is currently Scotland‘s joint top scorer with Denis Law. on 30 goals. and on his record ofa goal every three games or so. looks set to pass Law either in Australia or in the Hampden fixture against the same team on 20 November.

For all his fame. the Glaswegian Dalglish is an enigmatic man who cherishes his privacy. Modest to a fault. he refuses to make an issue of this landmark in an already illustrious career. ‘lt's not important that I get the hundredth cap.‘ he told me. ‘it‘s more important that we qualify for the World Cup. I‘m just happy ifl am picked for the team.‘

Surprisingly enough. for someone who has been described as the best footballer in Britain. Dalglish has not had the easiest time from the harshest critics of all - the Scotland supporters. The common complaint is that Dalglish does not reproduce his club form for his country. leading some to claim that he does not try. Someone who would disagree with this assessment is Bob Paisley. the man who brought Dalglish to Liverpool from Celtic. he maintains that Kenny is the most enthusiastic of players who approaches every game in the same way. whether it is a cup final or a five-a-side practice match. Perhaps the most astute remark about Dalglish‘s international form was one which I overheard at Scotland‘s last Hampden match against East Germany. ‘He‘s just surrounded by dumplings.‘ While this is not completely true. it goes some way to explaining why Dalglish sometimes appears to disappoint in a Scotland jersey. He is probably the best reader of a game in British football. seeing opportunities and moves which his less talented team-mates fail to. The Liverpool team. who play and train together constantly. understand and react to him in a way which the Scotland team can not. Of course. this is all bound up in the atrocious conditions under which British teams operate. which is a highly contentious issue and one which I will not go into here.

Although Dalglish has earned

most of his plaudits while playing for 5

Liverpool. he had already had a glittering career with Celtic. for whom he had scored 1 16 goals in all competitions and was already well on the way to passing Denis Law‘s record number of caps. It was this which prompted Bob Paisley to say on completing the record £44().()()() transfer to Liverpool in 1977. ‘We’ve signed the best player in Britain.‘ Dalglish began his Celtic career in the early seventies and one person who remembers him well is Ally MacLeod. under whom he served in the 1978 World Cup campaign. ‘I



Kenny Dalglish is poised to be the first footballer to represent his country 100 times. Graham Caldwell

profiles Scotland’s most successful player.

always knew he was a tremendous player.‘ recalls MacLeod. ‘1 saw him play at Lesser Hampden for Celtic reserves and 1 said to Jock Stein. “That‘s some player you have there.“ He made one of his first full- team appearances against us (Ayr United) in the League Cup semi- final. He was tremendous. it‘s no surprise to me what he’s gone on achieve.‘

It was. however. his move to

: Liverpool as the replacement for the

Hamburg bound Kevin Keegan which led to Dalglish’s acclaim as a world class player. Initially the Liverpool players were wary of the

Scotsman with the thick accent. but . as the then Liverpool skipper. Phil

Neal. remembers. ‘we knew within half an hour that he was such a good team player.’ The fact that Dalglish

had scored a goal after six minutes of

his first game against Middlesbrough. may have gone some way towards convincing the rest of the team of his ability.

Although some saw his replacing of the Liverpool fans‘ idol. Kevin Keegan. as a daunting task, Dalglish quickly became the darling of the Kop. earning the nick-name King Kenny. which subsequently became the title of his autobiography. Dalglish swiftly established himself as a consistent and invaluable

member of the Liverpool team: playing 177 consecutive games for the club and averaging a goal every other game an astonishing rate in what has been called the most demanding league in the world. His finest moment for his new club came quickly. when he scored the winning goal in the 1978 European cup final. against Bruges. l. in fact. once tried on the very jersey he wore in that match and can testify that although he is not the tallest of players. he is remarkably well built. which explains why he is so difficult to dislodge from the ball shielding and turning better than any forward in the game today witness his superb. solo goal against Belgium in the European Championship.

Dalglish could have become a Liverpool player even earlier than he did. as a schoolboy he was invited to Anfield by the legendary Bill Shankley for trials. but he elected to stay in Scotland. As a youngster. Dalglish was a mad. Rangers fan. and he tells how. when officials from Celtic came to his parents‘ house to sign him up. the young Dalglish rushed up to his bedroom to rip down his Rangers posters and pennants in case the men from Celtic Park saw them and changed their minds. It was this story of his childhood allegiances which fuelled

the rumours of last season. that Dalglish. who was reckoned by the

press to be near the end of his playing

days at Anfield. was returning to Scotland to end his career playing for Glasgow Rangers. Sadly for the Ibrox fans. this was not to be so. Dalglish explained this away to me by saying. ‘You said it yourself. it was just a rumour.‘

As every football fan knows. the next step in Dalglish‘s career was directly into management. The announcement made in the aftermath of the Heysel stadium disaster. surprised many Dalglish included. He is on record as saying that he was flattered and surprised at the offer. but found that he could not turn it down when the board at

Anfield showed they had confidence

in him and the backroom staff were all behind him. He also says that. on reflection. it was perhaps ‘a natural extension of my career.‘ liven the news that Bob Paisley was returning from retirement to see Dalglish through the difficult. early days failed to satisfy some critics. who maintained that Liverpool were taking a terrible risk in appointing an inexperienced man. [{arly season results seemed to bear this out: although the removal of Souness to Sampdoria was proving to be a difficult obstacle to overcome. Recently. however. Liverpool‘s results have taken an upswing. which demonstrates that the board‘s faith in Dalglish was not misplaced. Kenny did not know whether or not it would be an advantage working with players he knew so well and I asked him how he was finding the job.‘l‘m enjoying it fine. aye. There‘s no problems that can't be solved.‘ 1 also asked him about the problems of being a player manager and whether or not it was a problem picking himself for the team. ‘That‘s no problem when you‘re not playing well.‘ he laughed. He did. however. admit that he was possibly too hard on himself occasionally. ‘That might be the case. Maybe.‘

Liverpool Football (‘lub‘s recent decision to release both Dalglish and Steve Nicol for the second leg of the world cup qualifier makes likely the prospect of [)alglish‘s hundredth cap. It seems a shame that Dalglish will win so far away from home. but he himselfdoes not seem to mind. ‘It’s better that we have to go to Australia than not have a chance to qualify.‘ ()n being told that half the crowd in Australia seem set to be Scotland supporters. he remarked jokingly. ‘Aye. we always get a few.‘

If. given Scotland‘s propensity for leaving things to the last minute makes likely. almost the entire population of the country are ‘off sick‘ to watch Scotland live down under on December 4 (there are tentative plans to show the match on W. if the Glasgow leg is close). 1 would not bet against that man. Dalglish, prompting a repeat of Arthur Montford‘s ecstatic ‘DALGLISH IT‘S THERE!‘ of Anfield in 1977. Thereby celebrating his hundredth cap by sending Scotland to their fourth. consecutive World Cup finals.

The List 15—28 November 11