Posted on 25.09.2018
Bill Shankly knew how to captivate an audience. He was a manager filled with enthusiasm, intensity and passion for the game. This, combined with his amazing team management, is what made him one of the most celebrated football managers in the world. It’s no wonder that Bill Shankly quotes have gone down in history as gospel for the beautiful game.
On 29 September, it will have been 37 years since we sadly lost the legendary leader. The former Liverpool manager, and one of the best-loved figures in British football, died on this day in 1981, after suffering a heart attack.
Shankly led LFC to become one of the most successful footballing sides our country has ever seen, bumping the team back into the First Division and helping them win three championships and two FA Cups.
But it wasn’t just on the pitch that Shankly led the way: he became just as famous for his eloquent way with words and his ability to capture the feeling of a city in a single sentence. To commemorate the anniversary of Shankly’s death, we’ve decided to look back at the 25 best-ever Bill Shankly quotes and celebrate the legendary manager’s lookout on life…
Never one to shy away from teasing, Shankly often laughed about how his obsession with football impacted his family’s lives. His much-loved, and incredibly patient, wife Ness was looked upon as Liverpool’s first lady:
“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, and his colleague Bob Paisley, were famously respectful of referees on and off the pitch. Former official Keith Hackett once noted that the two managers treated him like a gentleman, listing the two men in his 10 top football managers of all time. But that didn’t stop Shankly teasing the honorable profession every once in a while:
“The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they do not know the game.”
Bill Shankly was famous for seeing hard work and dedication as the key ingredients for a successful team. He summed up tidily what he looked for in a player in the following quote:
“If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.”
There’s a reason The Shankly Hotel’s restaurant and bar is called The Bastion. It celebrates the legendary manager’s vision for Liverpool FC and his success in fulfilling that dream. The name was inspired by one of the most repeated Bill Shankly quotes:
“My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Had Napoleon had that idea he would have conquered the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in.”
Football wasn’t about boots and balls to Bill Shankly. It was a mind-game and he knew all the rules:
“A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and make sure you are.”
Famously more interested in crafting a team than individual egos, Shankly often discussed the importance of group work over individual success, passed down in a number of renowned Bill Shankly quotes. That didn’t mean he couldn’t appreciate a good player when he saw one, though:
“A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.”
We’ll never really know what Shankly would have made of big business football today, but we can guess. Often lauded as a socialist both on the pitch and off, Shankly dismissed money men as being cogs in the wheel of the game and put his trust elsewhere:
“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”
After beating Everton in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final, Shankly took the opportunity to take part in one of his favourite activities – relishing in Liverpool’s dominance over the Blues. Never one to shy away from laughing at the Toffees, a number of the Bill Shankly quotes on this list show his mischievous side:
“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 might have been born a Scot but Liverpool was his home and he made that very clear to his loyal fans:
“Although I’m a Scot, I’d be proud to be called a Scouser.”
“Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.”
Hard work was important to Shankly, but simply taking part didn’t count in his book. It was all or nothing for the father of Liverpool football:
“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”
Despite Liverpool topping the league, and Shankly earning global acclaim, the famous manager never let the glory go to his head. In one of the lesser-known Bill Shankly quotes, we see how his childhood shaped his outlook on life:
“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’s belief in putting your head down and working hard was revealed in a short interview caught on film, where he connected the ideals he’d learnt in the armed forces with his footballing work ethic:
“No football club is ever successful without hard work. If everyone thinks along these lines and does the small jobs to the best of their ability, then the world will be better.”
Shankly was the manager that installed the now-iconic ‘This is Anfield’ plaque at the Liverpool grounds during his tenure. The below sentence is one of those Bill Shankly quotes that perfectly sums up why Shankly strove for success at Anfield and who he dedicated it to:
“This is to remind our lads who they’re playing for, and to remind the opposition who they’re playing against.”
For Bill, playing football was about winning all or nothing, and the best way to get there was to believe:
“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.”
Having grown up in a remote and poverty-stricken village in Scotland, Shankly had a keen sense of what made a life worth living. In an interview held during a Liverpool training sessions, he revealed his most treasured character trait in a person:
“It’s the greatest thing in the world, natural enthusiasm. You’re nothing without it.”
Shankly was picky about his Reds players and if he couldn’t see the dedication in their eyes, he was unlikely to warm to them. He once made this declaration about what he looked for in a future LFC boy:
“For a player to be good enough to play for Liverpool, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting the other side.”
Addressing the crowds of Reds supporters waiting for the team in St George’s Square, Liverpool (despite the Reds having just lost the 1971 FA Cup Final), Shankly showed his gratitude to the hero’s welcome:
“I’ve drummed it into our players time and again that they are privileged to play for you.”
The Liverpool legend always had a special place in his heart for Anfield’s best-loved stand. Allegedly, after The Beatles asked for tickets to an FA Cup final, Shankly coyly replied, telling them “I’ve never seen any of The Beatles standing on The Kop. Any ticket I have spare will be going to my mates on The Kop”. The following quote makes his admiration for the stand very clear:
“If you’re a member of The Kop, you feel as though you’re a member of a big society, where you’ve got thousands of friends all about you. They’re united and loyal”.
Never one to shy away from reminding Everton they were standing in the shadow of one of the world’s greatest football teams, Shankly famously enjoyed ribbing the Blues on many an occasion:
“When I’ve nothing better to do, I look down the league table to see how Everton are getting along.”
There’s no doubt that Liverpool and Bill Shankly were a match made in heaven, and Bill knew it as well. He once nostagically remarked:
“Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool.”
Despite the two clubs being arch rivals, Bill Shankly struck up an unlikely friendship with one of Everton’s greatest, Dixie Dean. At the funeral for the Toffees legend, Shankly couldn’t help but tease the opposing team once more…
“I know this is a sad occasion but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death, he could draw a bigger crowd than Everton can on a Saturday afternoon.”
Shankly’s resignation in 1974 was a bombshell that shocked the club and the city. Questions still surround why Shankly chose to step down, although his grandson has suggested it was due to Shankly wanting to spend more time with his family. Regardless of the reasons, it’s obvious that it was an incredibly difficult decision for Liverpool’s main man. Afterwards, in one of the more emotional Bill Shankly quotes on this list, he said:
“It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That’s the way it felt.”
One of the most well-known Bill Shankly quotes, the below sentences eloquently demonstrate the Liverpool legends dedication to the beautiful game:
“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.”
As we commemorate Bill Shankly’s death, there can’t be any better way to remember him than how he wanted us to. So, in his own words:
“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say ‘We’re Liverpool’.”
The Shankly Hotel is dedicated to celebrating the life and legacy of LFC’s greatest leader. A night at The Shankly isn’t a stay – it’s an experience. You can explore the stories of Shankly’s successes and his ethos in life inside our uniquely designed suites, which are all based around a quote or anecdote celebrating the legendary manager.
With unseen memorabilia throughout the hotel and spacious rooms equipped with luxury amenities including whirlpool baths, walk-in showers and flat-screen TVs, a night at The Shankly is the perfect present for any Liverpool fan looking to discover more about the Father of Liverpool FC.
We hope you enjoyed the 25 best-ever Bill Shankly quotes and we look forward to welcoming you to The Shankly Hotel.
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