Commemorate the Anniversary of Shankly’s Death with 25 Incredible Quotes

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…


The 25 Best Bill Shankly Quotes

1. On the work-life balance…

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.”

2. On dealing with referees…

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 quotes

3. On the best way to play…

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.”

4. On his vision for Liverpool FC…

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.”

5. On self-belief…

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.”

6. On what makes a team…

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.”

bill shankly quotes

7. On the holy-trinity of football…

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”

8. On the age-old Merseyside Derby…

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.”

9. On his pride for the city of Liverpool…

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.”

10. On the simplicity of the sport…

“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.”


11. On why winning was the only option…

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.”

12. On keeping yourself grounded…

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.”

13. On hard work…

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.”

14. On the ‘This is Anfield’ plaque installation…

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.”

15. On being the best…

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.”

16. On the greatest gift in the world…

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.”

bill shankly quotes

17. On the dedication of Liverpool players…

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.”

18. On the privilege of working for Liverpool FC…

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.”

19. On his admiration for Kopites…

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”.

bill shankly quotes

20. Teasing Everton…

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.”

21. On his love for Liverpool…

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.”

22. On more teasing of Everton…

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.”

23. On resigning in 1974…

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.”


24. On the importance of football…

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.”

Interestingly, this quote is often interpreted out of context, and what isn’t mentioned is the following sentence where Shankly says “My family’s suffered. They’ve been neglected”. Despite all the glory and success he achieved, Shankly remained humble and questioned if he’d always had his priorities straight.

25. Remembering Bill Shankly

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’.”

Celebrate the life and legacy of Bill Shankly at The Shankly Hotel

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.

bill shankly quotes

One of The Shankly Hotel’s luxurious suites

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.

To book, call our friendly team on 0151 909 3635 or visit our booking page today. Make sure you check out our offers page for some incredible autumn packages.


The Rise of Kop and Pop Culture in 1965 Liverpool

In Liverpool, music and football go hand in hand thanks to the rise in both Merseybeat and the quality of Merseyside football in the 1950’s. After Bill Shankly accepted the manager’s role at Liverpool football club there was a dramatic turnaround in performance and of course, Beatlemania began to traverse the globe as the boys made headlines with their unique sound.

The Shankly Museum holds vast archives of rare Shankly memorabilia but none showcase the link between Liverpool music and football so much as the telegram that will be unveiled to mark the two-year anniversary of The Sahnkllky Hotel opening. Shanks received the telegram from the FabFour on the day of the 1965 FA Cup Final when Liverpool played Leeds and won.

This remarkable piece of footballing and music memorabilia marks an upturn in the pop and Kop culture of Liverpool. These two fascinating phenomena took audiences across the world by storm creating a combined passion for Liverpool football and Merseybeat music.

Kop Culture

“I’m just one of the people who stands on the Kop. They think the same as I do, and I think the same as they do. It’s a kind of marriage of people who like each other.”

Shankly was loved by Liverpool, not just for what he did to transform the city’s beloved team but also for his quick wit and sharp humour. Scousers are known for being direct, straight talking people with hearts of gold and that’s just what Shankly was like.

source: Quotesgram

Above all Shankly was a down to earth man who knew the magnitude of the task he had ahead of him when he walked through the main entrance at Anfield in December 1959.

It wasn’t long before his work was rewarded as Liverpool football club climbed the ranks sweeping into division one by April 1962.

The turn around delighted fans who could be heard singing their hearts out from the Kop urging their players onward and upwards.

Fathers would drop their boys into the “boy’s pen” and go stand with their mates bellowing out tune after tune from the charts, which at the time was filled with tracks from local Merseybeat bands.

“The fans here are the greatest in the land. They know the game and they know what they want to see. The People on the Kop make you feel great – yet humble.”

Pop Culture

The rise in the quality of Liverpool football, thanks to Shanks’, mirrored another sweeping craze of the sixties; Beatlemania.

Four boys from the city were taking the music world by storm producing track after track, each hitting the UK top ten and holding their positions for weeks on end.

source: Pinterest

Of course, the people of Liverpool were jubilant at this point as two of their homegrown talents were sweeping the world and coming up trumps.

Liverpool Football club even played the top ten at Anfield matches through the PA system before the game as almost every song belonged to a Merseybeat band. This also became known as the earliest instance of pre-match entertainment.

Gerry and the Pacemakers, Cilla Black and The Beatles had arrived on the music scene as had Liverpool football club in the international world of football.

The synchronicity of the two occurrences stirred something inside the people of Liverpool creating the amazing mix of music loving football fans we have today.

The Beatles and Shankly

The Beatles are known for having no particular ties to either of the Merseyside football clubs and quite famously when Brian Epstein asked for tickets for the 1965 FA Cup final for the boys Shanks replied;

“I have never seen any of The Beatles standing on the Kop, any tickets I have spare will be going to my mates on the Kop.”

Never the less The Beatles sent support to their home team on the day of the 1965 FA Cup final against Leeds, the clubs greatest moment to date and a testament to Shankly, the man who put them there.

The FabFour sent a telegram wishing the team and Shanks the best of luck and letting them know they’d be watching on TV.

source: Twitter

Liverpool went on to play a gruelling match against Leeds, who also gave it their all, and the FA Cup final of 1965 went into extra time with no goals scored.

The first goal of extra time was scored in a matter of minutes putting Liverpool up by one, then Leed’s equalised seven minutes later making it neck and neck. The final goal was scored in the 117th minute by Liverpool winning the game and giving Liverpool their first-ever FA Cup triumph.


Could the Beatles telegram have given them the extra push to perform or was it just the brilliance of Shankly and the player’s reluctance to disappoint him and their fans?

All we know is that The Beatles telegram to Shanks now serves as a reminder of one of Liverpool’s finest footballing moments and Shankly’s “greatest day”.

The Shankly Hotel Museum

Come along and learn more about the man and legend Bill Shankly, take a guided tour of the museum and be recounted with heartwarming stories about the great man from those who knew him best, his family.

Take a Shankly Experience tour around Liverpool, discovering important sites of local history and heritage as well as seeing the hallowed grounds of Anfield or Goodison.

You can even stay the night with amazing accommodation offers that can include, overnight stays, breakfast or evening meals in luxury Shankly themed hotel rooms.

After two wonderful years have passed since we opened our doors to the public The Shankly Hotel has helped make some amazing memories for our guests, our staff and the city of Liverpool. We look forward to what the future holds at The Shankly Hotel.

Call on 0151 601 8801 or email and book your stay at The Shankly Hotel, Liverpool’s only football-themed city centre hotel.

5 Shankly Tributes from Past and Present LFC Footballers and Managers

Bill Shankly changed Liverpool Football Club forever. He pulled the team out of second division, which ultimately led to the world-class five times Champions League winning club we know and love today.

His achievements undoubtedly had an impact not just on the club, but on the team’s legacy, future managers and players. We therefore thought it was high-time we took a look back at some tributes to the great man from past and present Liverpool managers and players.

1. Kenny Dalglish

Fellow Scot Kenny Dalglish is one of Liverpool’s finest players and managers, which led to his nickname King Kenny by the club’s supporters. His time playing football at Liverpool were some of the club’s most successful years, as he helped to win six Football League First Divisions, two FA Cups, four League Cups, seven FA Charity Shields, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup.

His time as manager was just as successful, as his experience, support and management skill resulted in Liverpool winning three First Divisions, two FA Cups and Four Charity Shields.

The video below shows just how much of an influence Bill Shankly was not only to Liverpool FC but to Kenny Dalglish.

2. Jamie Carragher

Recently retired Jamie Carragher was an integral member of the club since his debt in 1996, and is the club’s second-longest serving player. His honours include two FA Cups, three League Cups, two Community Shields, one Champions League, one UEFA Cup and two Super Cups.

Here Jamie talks about Shankly’s influence on Liverpool FC, the supporters and the city of Liverpool.

3. Roger Hunt

When Bill Shankly joined Liverpool FC in 1959, the club had been in Second Division for five years, Anfield was in a state of disrepair and there were no means of watering the pitch. Bill Shankly insisted the club spent £3,000 to rectify the problem, and placed 24 players on the transfer list. Roger Hunt, however, remained a part of the team and was a major factor in Liverpool’s success during the 1960s.

Roger Hunt was undoubtedly influenced by Shankly during his time with the reds, as the below video demonstrates…

4. Roy Evans

Roy Evans is a former Liverpool player who rose through coaching ranks to become a successful football manager. He joined Liverpool in 1994 when the team were in rapid decline, as the club struggled to recover from Kenny Daglish’s departure four years earlier. Roy Evans was pinnacle in assembling one of the most exciting side’s Liverpool FC had ever seen, picking a team of talented players that created an impressive team, which consisted of Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Stan Collymoore and 17-year-old Michael Owen.

It was Bill Shankly that spotted potential in Roy Evans, and it was he who suggested the ex-Liverpool player try a career as a coach. Here Evans talks about how Shankly was an inspiration to him, the fans and the club.

5. Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers has recently been hailed by the press as the new Bill Shankly, as he helped the club end the 2014 league season with 101 goals scored – the club’s highest number since the 1895-96 season, and the third-highest in Premier League History. He was also awarded the LMA Manager of the Year Award in May 2014.

Watch Brendan Rodgers speak about how Shankly inspires him and Liverpool FC.

Has Shankly inspired you? Tell us how by dropping us a comment below.

5 Bill Shankly Stories You Must Read

Bill Shankly was a man who was never stuck for much to say, and it was his wit and warm personality that made people fall in love with him. Over the years, many people haven’t been stuck for stories about one of the world’s greatest managers, which is why we thought we’d share a few of them with you.

1. John Keith on the suspicions of Bill Shankly

John Keith, a respected sports journalist, told how Bill was once found talking to a ceiling…

“Bill Shankly’s suspicions of dirty tricks in foreign lands were always at their height when Liverpool travelled behind the former Iron Curtain. On one trip into Eastern Europe, a member of the club called at Bill’s hotel and found him standing on a chair talking to the ceiling light. ‘I know you’re there… you’re spying on us,’ Bill shouted, borrowing nothing from James Bond. Then, still glaring upwards, he demanded: ‘Why don’t you come out, you cowards?‘”

2. George Best on Bill Shankly vs The Law

George Best looked back on how Bill Shankly was once pulled over by the police for speeding…

“When Shankly was manager at Grimsby, he was stopped by the police for speeding. The officer involved told him, ‘You were going a bit fast there, Mr Shankly,’ to which Shankly replied, ‘You must have been going fast yourself to keep up with me.


3. Tommy Docherty on Bill Shankly’s Quick Wit

Tommy Docherty recalls how Adidas planned to honour Bill…

“Adidas wanted to present him with a Golden Boot in recognition of what he’d done. Bob [Paisley] took the call and said ”They want to know what shoe size you take‘. Shanks shouted back, ‘if it’s gold, I’m a 28.

4. Patrick Barclay on Bill Shankly on Ian Callaghan

Journalist Patrick Barclay asks Shanks his opinion on LFC player Ian Callaghan

“‘I was just wondering what you thought of Ian Callaghan,‘ I asked. There was a slight paused before Shankly replied ‘Jesus Christ‘, and I thought ‘Oh no, I’ve upset him and now he’s swearing at me.’ I apologised, but he replied ‘No, no, son. I’m saying Jesus Christ is who Ian Callaghan reminds me of. Cally is the greatest man to have existed on this earth since Jesus Christ and he sets an example for everyone around him.'”

5. Ian St John on Bill Shankly Banter

Ian St John remembering the time the This is Anfield sign was placed in the ground…

“When the sign went up Liverpool were playing Newcastle. The Newcastle players are in the passage way and they see the sign. Malcolm McDonald – “Supermac” is going ‘Oh we’ve got the right ground, lads. This is Anfield.’ Shanks heard him.

They get into the dressing room, get stripped, go out to play. Liverpool won, it was 5-0. After the game, the boss goes in and knocks on their door. Joe Harvey says ‘Yes, Bill?’ ‘Is Supermac there?’ They are sitting there, they had just been battered. Shanks then went “You’ll know where it is next time.”

Have you got a favourite Shankly moment? Tell us what it is by leaving us a message below.

10 Superb Quotes on Bill Shankly

Bill Shankly is a football icon, and an inspiration to football fans, managers and players across the world. We therefore we’d take a look back at some of the best quotes about the legend.

1. George Best

George Best, former Manchester United Winger, once said:

“Bill Shankly, like Matt Busby, was a canny Scot who was never lost for words. I liked him a great deal and I know he liked me. I respected his knowledge of the game and loved his keen wit, which was as sharp as legend has it”.

2. Bob Paisley

Bob Paisley was a member of the Liverpool coaching staff, working alongside Bill Shankly when he managed Liverpool FC. He was Shankly’s successor in the role upon his retirement in 1974. Here’s what Bob had to say about his friend Bill:

“You had to learn from Bill. He was football crazy, and I mean crazy. He was fanatical, like no-one else I met. If I had to sum up Bill’s effect on Anfield it’s quite simple that he got the whole thing going. We were nothing before he came, and look at us now. He’s very sadly missed”.

3. Ian St John

Ian St John, a former Preston North End player, spoke of Shankly:

“You have never met anybody with more drive and enthusiasm for football. His special ingredient was his love of the game. Other managers may have hobbies – they might play gold – but his hobby was football”.

4. Chris Lawler

Chris Lawler, a former Liverpool footballer, spoke of Bill:

“He thought the fans were important. For the big games, we would be asking for tickets as player and he would give them to the fans instead”.

5. Rafa Benitez

Former Liverpool manager spoke of how Shankly’s spirit was very much alive at the club:

“When people talk about the “Liverpool Way”, it was always to win. We try to do this and that is our priority if possible. We try to do things properly, like Shankly did”.

6. Kevin Keegan

Former England player Kevin Keegan spoke of how Bill Shankly’s managerial outlook:

“Bill gave everyone connected with the club great belief and principles. Everyone counted for something, whether you were the kitman or you cut the grass. I played for a lot of good managers but none were in the same country, let along the same street, as Bill”.

7. Brendan Rodgers

The current Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers, reflects on Shankly’s legacy:

“When you take the job of manager of this great sporting institution, you are fully aware that you are following in the footsteps of true giants. There is no-one more fitting of the phrase ‘greatness’ than Bill Shankly, and his influence is as strong today as it has ever been”.

8. Geoff Twentyman

One of Bill Shankly’s players at Carlisle United spoke of his manager’s attitude towards his players:

“Shankly was a strict disciplinarian. He was always up-to-date on any player’s misbehaviour. If he head that players were womanising or drinking, he’d down on them like a ton of bricks”.

9. Jimmy Jackson

Jimmy Jackson, a former Carlisle United player, talked about Shankly’s love for the game:

“The Shankly brand of enthusiasm made you feel there was no team in the country that you were not able to match”.

10. Ian Callaghan

Ian Callaghan, a former LFC player, spoke of how Shankly would have approached modern-day football:

“I have often heard the theory that Shanks would not have been able to cope in an era when players earn £100,000 a week. I don’t agree. He knew how to handle footballers because it was in his blood”

Have you heard a better quote about Shanks? We want to hear it, so drop us a comment below.