Kin to all Clubs
Shankly was a renowned man of the people. His reach transcended football rivalries in a manner that will probably never be seen again. He was respected the world over. Testament to this is the relationships he shared with numerous opposing players, managers and directors of clubs.
Legendary Manchester United manager Matt Busby was a great friend of Shankly’s and the two shared a friendship and mutual respect. Shankly famously quipped when upon being offered the Liverpool job with the line,
“How do you fancy becoming manager of the best team in the country?” “Why is Matt Busby retiring?” When Shanks passed away, Matt was so upset that he refused to take phone calls for a week.
Busby wasn’t the only manager however who was a great friend of Shankly. Don Revie, Joe Mercer and Jock Stein were all fond friends of the Scot to name but a few.
His friendships weren’t exclusive to managers either. Many players outside of his Liverpool team had a profound respect for him. George Best was one of those; and Shankly once famously remarked that he could have tamed the enigmatic star. Best also spoke fondly of Shankly, referring to his encounters with Shankly in his book;
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. After a game against Liverpool at Old Trafford in 1965, Shanks asked how I was coping with life. I was only nineteen at the time. ‘Fame, son,’ Shanks told me, ‘is the price you pay for doing your job well.’ A few years later I was to understand the full implications of his words.
Shankly was also the source of inspiration for a young Brian Clough; who would frequently call Bill at home for advice. Jeanette, Bill’s daughter relayed that Clough would frequently be on the end of the phone asking, “Is your Dad about?” courting advice from the experienced Shankly on management matters. Clough even brought Shankly into the dressing room post his Liverpool retirement to deliver one of his team talks to showcase the master at work!