Ray Clemence: goalkeeper’s greatest achievements at Liverpool, why he left for Spurs, and when he returned to Anfield

The legendary footballer has died from prostate cancer at the age of 72

Monday, 16th November 2020, 12:49 pm

Supporters of Liverpool, Tottenham and England are celebrating the life of goalkeeper Ray Clemence following his passing at the age of 72.

A stalwart of Bob Paisley’s Liverpool side of the 1970s and early 1980s, Clemence was between the sticks during three of Reds’ European Cup triumphs, and five of their First Division titles.

The Skegness-born stopper was widely regarded as one of the great ‘keepers of his generation, playing key roles in Tottenham’s FA Cup and UEFA Cup victories during the twilight of his career.

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Clemence’s career also saw him claim 61 caps for the national side.

Scunthorpe to Liverpool

Before Clemence joined Liverpool’s legends in the making, he played for then Division 3 outfit Scunthorpe United, after a brief period as an amateur with Notts County.

Clemence made his debut for the club as a 17-year-old, earning the number 1 jersey at the Lincolnshire club as a teenager.

Ray Clemence won three European Cups while at Liverpool (Getty Images)

Making 48 appearances over a three-year span, Clemence would catch the eye of Bill Shankly who signed him for £18k from United.

The infancy of his spell with Liverpool was spent in development, before a break into the starting 11 in 1970, coinciding with a golden age in the club’s history.

What were Clemence’s biggest achievements at Anfield?

Clemence would taste failure before triumph at Anfield, losing to Arsenal in the 1971 FA Cup Final, powerless to keep out goals from Charlie George and Eddie Kelly.

Redemption would come two years later when the club claimed a league and UEFA Cup double.

Clemence would save a penalty to ensure a comfortable 3-0 victory in the latter over German side Borussia Monchengladbach.

The two clubs would reunite in 1977 in the European Cup final which Liverpool won 3-1 with Clemence again between the sticks.

A second European Cup triumph would follow a season later with Clemence keeping a clean sheet during a 1-0 victory over Club Brugge.

Liverpool and Clemence would add league titles to their honours lists in 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79 and 1979–80.

Liverpool conceded just 16 goals in 42 league games during the 1978-1979 campaign with Clemence playing a key part, a club record which still stands.

Clemence’s final game for the club would see him clinch a third European Cup, Liverpool again running out 1-0 winners.

Why did he leave Liverpool and what did he do at Spurs?

Tottenham Hotspur recruited Clemence for £300,000 in 1981, surprising many at the time.

Speaking in 2014 Clemence revealed why he left the club following a third European Cup triumph.

He said: “It was the right thing for me at the right time and I don’t regret it.

“I love Liverpool, I still go back there now but Tottenham was the right club for me at the right time and I had a fantastic time there.

“There were some world class players who gave me the opportunity to try and win more things.

“That was the most important thing in leaving Liverpool, I couldn’t just go to any club. I had to play somewhere where they were playing European football and had a chance of winning things.”

What happened on return to Anfield?

Clemence’s first appearance back at Liverpool would come on the final day of the 1981/82 season.

And he received a hero’s welcome from the Liverpool loyal, with residents of the Kop providing a raucous ovation to the stopper in the second half.

Following the fixture, Clemence opened up about the welcome from Liverpool fans.

He said: "The first half I was playing at the Anfield Road end and they were still chanting: 'England's number one to me' so that was nice.”

"I could never have envisaged when I came out at half-time and ran down to the Kop, the reception I would get.

"The whole stadium stood up and every single one in the Kop.

"It's probably the most emotional I have ever been at a football ground.

"It definitely brought a lump to my throat because I could not believe the reception from them.

"It was just one of the best moments you could possibly have."

What did he do at Spurs?

He would be reunited again with his old club in the 1982 League Cup final with Liverpool 3-1 winners.

His season would end in glory, however, with the North London club winning the FA Cup in a replay against QPR.

A UEFA Cup would follow two seasons later, though Clemence would spend the final on the bench due to injury.

When did he retire from football?

An achilles injury in 1987 would ultimately lead to Clemence’s retirement from playing, though he would join the Spurs coaching setup in the same year.

He would become joint-manager of the club along with Doug Livermore in 1993, before a short spell as manager of Division 3 club Barnet from 1994 to 1996.