Sir Kenny Dalglish is revered as one of British football’s greatest-ever talents but the man himself is as remarkable off the pitch as he was on it.
‘King Kenny’ racked up countless honours as a player and then manager, but his continued charity causes have meant the accolades have not stopped since he stepped away from the game.
Now he has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement award at BBC Sports 2023 Personality of the Year.
The 72-year-old fought back tears in an emotional speech, honouring victims of the Hillsborough disaster while accepting the award.
Speaking on stage, he said: “I’m very grateful to the BBC, I don’t know about their wisdom but they’ve chosen me to get this award and I’ll treasure this dearly. It’s really a thank you speech from me to the people involved. A couple of the lads have done us a real turn in the management game, you can work out for yourselves who that was. Some maybe not so good!
“All we did in the football was to try and make people happy and the best way to do that was to get results. Fortunately we managed to do that a few times and if they enjoyed us winning it’s only a fraction of the enjoyment we got from playing for them.
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“I’ll always be eternally grateful to people who stood by me and gave me a job. Celtic, Liverpool, Blackburn, Newcastle was fantastic, maybe not the most successful but the family loved it there so when I got the sack I was in the bad books. For me it’s not about taking part it’s about winning and fortunately for myself we were able to do that.
“Present day I’ve got a job at Liverpool, it’s a non-executive director, I don’t know what it means but I’ve got a job. I’m quite fortunate that when I went back we won a trophy.
“We’ve mentioned Hillsborough, everybody knows what went on there and the people at Hillsborough are more important than football. As they say, you’ll never walk alone. I genuinely appreciate this.”
Dalglish and his wife Marina have raised more than £10million for a variety of charities.
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The pair have also founded the Marina Dalglish Appeal, which raises money for cancer care.
Dalglish has often used his platform as a Celtic, Scotland, and of course, Liverpool legend to champion his causes – with his achievements, both in attack and later in the dugout unrivalled.
Dalglish won eight league titles and three European Cups as a player and manager on Merseyside after joining for a then-British record £440,000 transfer fee from the Bhoys in 1977.
The Glasgow-born footballer scooped all of his European success as well as six of his eight leagues as Liverpool’s star forward.
Dalglish banged in 172 goals in 515 appearances and could do it all to such an extent that he took over management duties at 35 in 1985.
Another three titles and two FA Cups followed but it was four years into his reign that the Scot ensured his name would be etched into not just every Liverpool fan’s hearts and minds but in their soul.
Dalglish was Liverpool’s manager at the time of the Hillsborough disaster and led both the club and the city through the trauma.
He lived with the letters from the families that suffered from the tragedies and needed a police escort to attend up to four funerals a day.
The emotional toll eventually saw him depart Liverpool in February 1991 – returning to management with Blackburn eight months later.
Dalglish missed out on signing a young Roy Keane to Manchester United in 1993 but still memorably guided Blackburn to the Premier League title two years later to end their eight-decade wait.
Short spells at Newcastle United and back at Celtic followed before the legendary forward took an 11-year break from management.
Dalglish’s persisting love for Liverpool saw him dust off the tactics board to succeed Roy Hodgson in 2011 to lead them to League Cup success in 2012, the club’s first trophy in six years.
The Red’s eighth-place finish saw him dismissed three months later but such is his impact that he has his own stand at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp told Liverpool’s website: “Kenny means absolutely everything [to Liverpool FC]. He is Liverpool.
“He has his own stand [at Anfield] – and well deserved – and he is just one of the nicest people you can meet. He is full of joy, he loves his club, he is super-supportive.”
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And in typical fashion, he paid tribute to everyone else, saying: “I have always believed in the importance of team success, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without all of the players I’ve played with, the people I’ve worked for, and the supporters that stood by me, so this is for them.”
‘This is for them’ might as well be the title of Dalglish’s memoir…