By Damien Parsonage.
There are three incidents that sum up Alan Hansen as a player for me.
The first is a surging run from his own half. It’s February 1980 and Liverpool are playing in a cracker at Carrow Road against Norwich City. The game ended 5-3 to the reds, with a Fairclough hat trick, but is best remembered for the 79/80 Goal of the Season from Justin Fashanu.
I remember it for the Hansen run. He picks the ball up deep in his own half, and gallops over the half way line into space. He dummies a Norwich midfielder with a swerve and a change of pace and continues his leggy run towards the Norwich penalty area. There, he holds off two men before playing a delightful square ball for the unmarked Fairclough. The ball is weighted so perfectly, the striker doesn’t need to control it, he just pulls back his left foot and curls the ball beautifully into the corner of the net.
The second incident is in the 1978 European Cup Final. A young (22 year old) Hansen is playing left back and Liverpool have deservedly taken the lead after dominating a defensive FC Bruges at Wembley. Leading 1-0, with the clock ticking down, the nerves set in as Liverpool look to close out the game to win their second European Cup. Bruges launch a high ball towards their striker, but Hansen reacts first and comes across well to meet the ball. Rather than belting it clear, though, he tries to cushion it back to Clemence, but doesn’t quite make enough contact. The tame ball fails to reach the keeper, bounces clear and falls to a Bruges player ten yards out. We all gasp in horror as he fires the ball under the diving Clemence towards the net – only for Phil Thompson to clear it off the line. We all start breathing again.
The third incident is a surging run from his own half. It’s November 1982 and Liverpool are about to beat Everton 5-0 at Goodison (Rush scored one, Rush scored two, Rush scored three, and Rush scored four!) It’s the 11th minute and with the score at 0-0, Hansen intercepts brilliantly inside his own half. He neatly evades a two-footed derby lunge and sprints clear of the chasing midfielder. He steadies himself and plays a defence splitting pass, which falls perfectly into the path of Rush. Again, the ball is so well measured the striker doesn’t need to break his stride as he slots the ball home first time.
And that is Alan ‘Jocky’ Hansen. Heart-in-the-mouth moments because he played football and wouldn’t hoof the ball. And breathtaking brilliance, because he played football and wouldn’t hoof the ball.
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