Bill Shankly lived and breathed football. Yet although everyone will know, and have their opinion on, his legendary assessment of life, death and the beautiful game, there was so much more to the philosophy of this managerial giant.
His achievements, of course, are the stuff of legend. When he took over Liverpool in 1959, Anfield was crumbling and the team was languishing in the bottom half of England’s second tier. By the time Shankly announced his retirement 15 years later, the Reds were one of England’s – and Europe’s – great clubs, having won three league championships, two FA Cups, the UEFA Cup, and laid the foundations for further success to follow.
However, the impact and appeal of this former Scotland international, a distinguished player himself, stretched far beyond Anfield. Shankly’s empathy with supporters and immense passion, enthusiasm and love for the game made him a much-loved figure throughout football, and ensured that – despite the odd derogatory remark about Everton, as we will see below – he transcended Liverpool’s blue-red divide. This was the Shankly who, every day, devoted time to replying to fans’ letters, even calling them at home, and who, before his death in 1981, insisted on being treated in a public hospital ward rather than a private room. He was, in every respect, a man of the people.
Here, FIFA.com brings you some of the best of his countless classic quotes.
"Pressure is working down the pit. Pressure is having no work at all. Pressure is trying to escape relegation on 50 shillings a week. Pressure is not the European Cup or the Championship or the Cup Final. That's the reward."
Shankly on the ‘pressure’ of top-level management
"Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool."
Shankly on Liverpool
"I was the best manager in the game and should've won more. I didn't do anything devious. I'd fight you, and break my wife's leg if I played against her, but I wouldn't cheat her."
Shankly on Shankly
"Of course I didn't take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present, it was her birthday. Would I have got married in the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves."
Shankly on romance
"It's fantastic. You look down at your dark blue shirt, and the wee lion looks up at you and says 'Get out after the English...!'"
Shankly on playing for Scotland
"If you've got three Scots in your team, you've got a chance of winning something. Any more and you've got trouble."
Shankly on his countrymen
"They said we were predictable. Well, I think anybody who is unpredictable is a waste of time. Joe Louis was predictable. He would knock a man down on the floor. Goodbye! We were predictable, but the opposition couldn't stop us!"
Shankly on Liverpool’s style
“If Everton were playing down the bottom of my garden, I'd draw the curtains.”
Shankly on Everton
"Nonsense! I've kicked every ball, headed out every cross. I once scored a hat-trick; one was lucky, but the others were great goals."
Shankly’s response to being told that he had never experienced playing in a derby
“A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are. In my time at Anfield we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves."
Shankly on psychology
"Sickness would not have kept me away from this one. If I'd been dead, I would have had them bring the casket to the ground, prop it up in the stands and cut a hole in the lid."
Shankly after beating Everton in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."
Shankly’s most famous and oft-misquoted line
"At a football club, there's a holy trinity - the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don't come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques."
Shankly on directors
"If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing."
Shankly on winning
"The socialism I believe in isn't really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day. That might be asking a lot, but it's the way I see football and the way I see life."