Dalglish grateful for second chance in Europe

Scot rues side's ban during his first spell as Liverpool manager but regrets the Heysel tragedy even more

There has always been a debate about how many more European Cups Liverpool might have won had the great sides Kenny Dalglish managed in his first silverware-spattered term of office not been banned in the wake of the Heysel disaster.

Last night, as he prepared for his first European game as manager of Liverpool, a low-key Europa League fixture against Sparta Prague, Dalglish reflected that he had few regrets that the great sides, spearheaded by John Barnes, Ian Rush and John Aldridge, never tilted for the European Cup. What he really regretted were the 39, mostly Juventus fans, killed before the 1985 final; the last match before he took over.

"We wish the ban had never happened but we wish Heysel had never happened," he said. "For so many people to lose their lives at a football game was appalling and it was right someone was punished.

"We had to pay some punishment and that was the punishment we received. There has been a lot of conversations about what might have happened; whether we would have been good, bad or indifferent. We had fantastic teams with fantastic players. It would have been nice to have seen them been given the opportunity." Liverpool would have qualified for the European Cup three times during Dalglish's first spell and his then captain, Alan Hansen, thought they might have won it once, in 1989. Even then, they would have had to overcome the great Milan side of Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard while Hillsborough, a tragedy that overshadowed even Heysel, would have intervened a month before the final.

"I don't know if they would have won it I just know they were fantastic players," said Dalglish. "But I regretted more what happened at Heysel. I have another opportunity now but there are a lot of people who never get second chances.

"And it was not just Liverpool who suffered. Everton won the championship that year and they never got to play for the European Cup did they? There were other people who suffered and they were innocent."

For a manager with Dalglish's track record, his European involvement has been curiously muted. There was a single Champions League campaign with Newcastle that began with a 3-2 win over Barcelona and then largely fizzled out; elimination from the Uefa Cup by the little-known Swedes of Trelleborgs with Blackburn.

Here as he made his way into the airless press room it appeared he had never been away. Asked if he was looking forward to meeting Patrik Berger, who had lived next door to him in Southport, Dalglish smiled and said he had proved a better footballer than he had been a neighbour. Reminded that he had lost a World Cup qualifier here at the Letna Stadium in 1973, Dalglish shot back that Scotland had won the second leg at Hampden.

There may have been no Steven Gerrard, Daniel Agger or Christian Poulsen on the plane that left John Lennon Airport yesterday but there were four young players who might be as interesting. Raheem Sterling, Jack Robinson, John Flanagan and Conor Coady were all part of the Liverpool side that this week thrashed Southend 9-0 in the FA Youth Cup at Anfield. "We have not brought them along as a publicity stunt," said Dalglish. "We have brought them because they deserve to be here."

exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>
filmRobert Downey Jr named Hollywood's highest paid actor for second year running
Life and Style
Dale Bolinger arranged to meet the girl via a fetish website
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor