Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool manager whose achievements rank him among the most successful in English football, died yesterday in a Merseyside nursing home after a long illness. He was 77 last month.
Paisley joined Liverpool just after the Second World War and rose through the Anfield playing ranks to become a key figure in the Anfield boot room, the backroom staff who were pivotal in the club's years of domestic and European dominance.
Paisley reluctantly succeeded Bill Shankly in July 1974 and even improved on his formidable record, winning the Football League title six times, the European Cup three times, the Uefa Cup once and the League Cup three times. The FA Cup eluded him as a player and manager but he was voted manager of the year a record six times.
Emlyn Hughes, who led Liverpool to their first European Cup victory in Rome, over Borussia Monchengladbach under Paisley in 1977, considered him "one of the greats".
"When you talk of the greats you think of Sir Matt Busby, Jock Stein and Shanks, and if he is not among them he should be above [them], because none of them achieved what he did in the domestic game," Hughes said.
Kevin Keegan, the Newcastle manager whose last game for Liverpool was that night in Rome, said: "I don't think anybody who came into contact with Bob Paisley could have anything but total respect for his honesty and integrity. Nobody should underestimate what he did for Liverpool."
In signing Kenny Dalglish and Graeme Souness, Paisley brought two players to Liverpool who were to prove integral to the club's success, and both succeeded him as manager. "I learned more about football from him than anyone else," Souness said. "He was the most successful manager in the history of the British game and someone who must have been very brave to take the Liverpool job when he did. He is someone who should be remembered as long as the football club exists."
Dave Sexton, in charge of rivals Manchester United for part of the Paisley era, said: "He was probably the shrewdest football man that I have ever met, and a very nice one as well. The Liverpool tradition, of which Bob was such a big part, was to aim for excellence. But I also found him one of the most sporting losers on the rare occasions when he had to be."Reuse content