Liverpool legend Phil Thompson has been named as the second VIP speaker at this year’s Raith Rovers Hall of Fame.
“Thommo” will take to the stage along with his Sky Sports colleague Paul Merson at the sold-out event at the Adam Smith Theatre on November 7, and speaking to the Press, said he is looking forward to sharing some stories from his long career.
“You can go through any era, even now, and when you get to your formative years and get to know what football is all about, you want to play for your local club and I lived that dream to a far greater then I could ever have hoped for.
“When I first started going to Anfield it was a Liverpool team that was growing. We had the great Scot Bill Shankly as manager then who had arrived at our football club and changed everything.
“When he arrived he called the training ground “a toilet” and the football ground “a dump” and said it all needed to change, and he did that.
“I became an apprentice in 1969 and I’d have given my right arm just to be there, and there I was two years later working with my heroes like Roger Hunt, Ian St John, Ron Yeats, Emlyn Hughes and Ian Callaghan.”
Phil made his debut at 18 in 1971, and went on to make 340 appearances for the team, his own highlight coming in 1981.
“To lift the European Cup as captain of your home town team after beating Real Madrid was just like a dream. It was sensational.”
As well as his trophy-laden career with Liverpool, Phil also collected 42 caps for England, six as captain, before retiring in 1986 at the age of just 31.
“I’ve no regrets at all,” he said. “I was playing at Sheffield Utd, but Kenny Dalglish wanted me back at Liverpool to be reserve team player coach and those sort of opportunities don’t come along too often.”
After six years Phil was sacked by Liverpool manager Graeme Souness in 1992 and after another six years working as a pundit for Sky Sports he once again returned to Anfield in 1998, this time as assistant manager to Gerard Houllier.
“It was a wonderful time in my life. It was a fantastic experience working with such a great man and it was a tremendous success.
“We won five trophies in six months in 2001, and later on that year when Gerard had to take time off due to heart trouble, I became manager of Liverpool for six months.
“Phil Thompson doing what Bill Shankly did? That is weird! But I loved it.”
When Houllier left in 2004 Phil returned to Sky Sports where he remains and says still enjoys it.
“It’s the most unbelievable experience. It’s become like an entertainment programme and it’s lovely when people say it comes across like that. It’s serious when it needs to be but there’s a lot of fun too.”
Phil says he’s looking forward to the Hall of Fame after hearing great things about it.
“Charlie Nicholas and Jeff Stelling told us how warm everybody was towards them, said they were really great people and that we’ll love it.
“I’m so looking forward to it,” he said.