Football: Shankly honoured in bronze

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The Independent Online
Sixteen years after his death, Liverpool yesterday matched Manchester United's tribute to Sir Matt Busby by unveiling a statue to Bill Shankly. The simple inscription on the plinth reads: "He made the people happy."

The 7ft 6in bronze statue will stand outside the place that worshipped Shankly most, The Kop. It will also guard the entrance to the club's Liverpool Visitor Centre which was also opened yesterday by Shankly's widow, Nessie, and the widow of Bob Paisley, Jessie.

His arms stretched out in victory, the juxtaposition is apt - the man who made the modern club in front of the museum designed to show off his triumphs and those who followed him.

As Ebbe Dinesen, of Carlsberg, who commissioned the statue, said: "He laid the foundations for a mountain of success."

Inside the visitor centre, Shankly's monument is both his managerial record - three championships, two FA Cups and the Uefa Cup - and his words. "If you are first, you are first," reads one caption on the wall. "If you are second you are nothing," reads another.

A third, spoken to a poor translator who was trying to open communication between Shankly, a promising xenophobe, and Italian journalists, reads: "Just tell them I completely disagree with everything they say."

Ian Callaghan was one of many past and present players going through a former Kop turnstile yesterday and seeing his own likeness in a waxwork model of an old Anfield dressing- room. "Some of the things were a bit far-fetched but you believed most of them," he said. "Shanks believed them himself so you tended to go along with him. He was a great man."

So, according to Shankly, were all his players, but his praise always took on an extra dimension when he spoke of his centre-half and captain, Ron Yeats. "The Colossus" himself cut the ribbon to unveil the statue yesterday at the request of Nessie Shankly and Jessie Paisley, making no fuss, saying no words. In short, the way Shankly would have wanted.

At the same time you were struck by how things have changed. The statue was draped in a sheet covered in Carlsberg logos, a form of advertising that would have been unheard of in Shankly's day. To have a brewery pay for a tribute to a confirmed teetotaller would have amused him greatly.