Ray Clemence RIP- Surely one of the finest keepers England have ever known

The world of football lost another goalkeeping legend at the weekend when Ray Clemence lost his fight against prostate cancer.

Aged 72, the former Liverpool, Tottenham and England keeper was diagnosed with the disease in 2005.

Clemence was an outstanding goalkeeper who was unflappable, calm, reassuring and was very athletic.

A solid rock between the sticks

In Liverpool’s 1978-79 championship winning season across 42 games the Reds defence conceded only 16 goals.

Clemence made 665 appearances for Liverpool, 330 for Tottenham and 61 for England. Reliability is a word rarely used now days, but in Clemence he was reliable.

At 18 he was the first-choice keeper at Scunthorpe where he was already getting a big reputation. The late Bill Shankly went to watch him play once and liked what he saw. So much so he paid Scunthorpe £18,000 to bring the youngster to Merseyside.

Had to bide his time in the reserves first

He spent two years in the reserves, before eventually taking over from Tommy Lawrence in the first team. Across 11 seasons at Anfield he hardly missed a game. He was Mr reliable having played a remarkable 336 games in succession.

He accumulated five league titles, one FA Cup and one League Cup winners medal for the Reds. Clemence was also a key factor in the success of Liverpool in Europe.

Liverpool fans will never forget 1973

He will always be remembered for keeping out a penalty as Liverpool beat Borussia Moenchengladbach to secure the Uefa Cup in 1973.

Three years later he was part of the set up that won the championship and Uefa Cup double. In 1977 the club went for a unique treble but missed out on the FA Cup.

He was also an integral part of three European Cup victories over five years from 1977 to 1981.

Made the move south to London

In the summer of 1981 Clemence left Liverpool to play for Tottenham for a fee of £300,000. At White Hart Lane he won another FA Cup winners medal, but missed out on the 1984 Uefa Cup final due to injury.

Most older Liverpool fans would have been in the crowd that gave him a rousing reception on his return back to Liverpool.

Clemence should have played more times for England but was around the same time as Peter Shilton and was considered to be the number two.

Was forced to retire in 1988 due to injury

After retiring from playing in 1988 because of a ruptured achilles, Clemence had his first taste of management at Barnet. Shortly afterwards he became a popular goalkeeping coach and eventually head of the FA’s development department.

Will always be a hero in Liverpool’s fans eyes

On Merseyside he will always be remembered as the finest keeper in the clubs colours. In September a celebratory mural was unveiled on the end of the terrace on Wylva Road in Liverpool.

Clemence was a quiet man who was softly spoken. He had a wonderful smile especially in triumphs, and lets face it he had plenty of those to smile about.

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