my own goal

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The Independent Online
The veteran midfield player, still playing for Brighton at the age of 40, recalls a game when he was in his prime with the great Liverpool side managed by Bob Paisley. On this occasion things did not go according to plan.

IT WAS freezing cold in Dresden in November 1977. The place was grey and fairly forbidding and that made it seem colder. It was always like that behind the Iron Curtain in those days. We didn't tend to see much of the places we went to but the mood was never less than sombre; the grounds were usually well out of the way.

Dynamo Dresden were well on top of us in the match. They wore yellow and black and it was like being attacked by a swarm of bees. It was a European Cup second-round match. We were 5-1 up from the from the first leg when I had scored twice. That sort of thing didn't happen too often, although I got a hat-trick in a Uefa Cup match a couple of seasons earlier.

The way Dresden came at us they were determined to do something about the deficit and we were all thinking what we could do to get out of this one. The night just became colder. We made the odd counter-attack and won a corner which was a bit of a relief from the pressure.

That was when things got worse. All our big lads from defence came up to the Dresden box. I took the corner and drilled it into the area on the left-hand side. Unfortunately, it was a complete miscue and went straight to one of their players. He swept itout to the right wing and they dashed downfield. Within about three strides and as many seconds they had scored without us touching the ball from my kick.

I was the one who picked the ball out of the net. I had run from the Dresden by-line to our six-yard box, all to no avail, and muttered something to Ray Clemence about the quality of corners as I passed him. We held out all right. Steve Heighway scored for us and although we lost 2-1, we went through to the quarter-finals and eventually won the European Cup for the second time. We beat Bruges 1-0 in the final when I was substituted.

If that was the most costly corner I have ever taken there is another incident which still sticks out in my mind years afterwards and probably matches it for embarrassment. It was a couple of years earlier and another cold November night in eastern Europe.

The place was a bit drab, which was what we expected, I suppose. The match was against Slask Wroclaw of Poland, a third-round, first-leg Uefa Cup match. We were attacking well enough in typical Liverpool fashion and it probably wasn't the first corner wewon.

In my defence I should say it was not the best of pitches. The surface was hard and slippery. I placed the ball, ran in and slipped on my backside as I made contact. The ball just managed to trickle a foot over their by-line for a goal kick. You could say I got some stick for that.

It didn't cause any problems except for the pain in my bottom and we won the match 2-1. It was in the second leg at Anfield that I got my European hat-trick. In 20 years playing the game, of course, I've made other mistakes. I'm still making them. I've scored a real own goal in my time, but those two daft corners are what I remember after all these seasons.

There won't be many more left now, daft corners or seasons, but I'd like to think I'm not finished yet. I have just come back from injury again. It wasn't serious but I suppose it does take just a little longer to recover when you get to 40. I'm still getting a lot of fun out of the game. Helping the young players on the pitch - and they're all younger than me now - is enjoyable. I had a run-out in the reserves the other night and it went well enough. I aim to get my first-team place back and would like to think I can play another season at Brighton before retiring.

I like it here with Liam Brady and will probably stay down South, getting a coaching job if possible. I've already been taking the reserves. But when I stop playing I intend to indulge myself in my other love, fishing.

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