Mocking Everton, hating referees, and the importance of football – Liverpool great Bill Shankly’s best quotes

Bill Shankly is one of the greatest managers of all time and Liverpool owe much of their history to his work both on and off the pitch.

As a player, he spent most of his career with Preston North End before making the move into management.

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Bill Shankly managed Liverpool from 1959 to 1974
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In the decade before taking charge of Liverpool in 1959, he managed Carlisle, Grimsby, Workington and Huddersfield.

And in 15 years at the helm at Anfield, he took over the club in Division Two  and turned them in to one of the powerhouses of English football.

He won the Division One title three times, FA Cup twice and UEFA Cup.

Shankly gave so much more to the club than trophies on the pitch. During his reign, they changed to their now iconic all red kit and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ became their anthem.

His departure in 1974 was a shock but he left the club in safe hands in the shape of long-time assistant Bob Paisley who carried on his work and made them one of the most dominant clubs in European history.

His philosophy and mantras still have an impact on the club today and some of his best quotes range from inspirational, funny and poignant.

Here are some of the best quotes from the great man himself.


Shankly often demanded perfection from his players and worked them hard. He set the bar high for what he wanted in a Liverpool player.

He said: “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.”

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Bill Shankly won the FA Cup twice with Liverpool
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Shankly was born in Scotland but Liverpool was his home and always made that clear.

He said: “Although I’m a Scot, I’d be proud to be called a Scouser.”


He was proud to manage Liverpool and enjoyed getting one over on rivals Everton

After beating the Toffees in the 1971 FA Cup semi-final, he said: “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.”


Plenty of his quotes often had thinly veiled insults aimed at the blue half of Merseyside.

He said: “A lot of football success is in the mind. You must believe you are the best and make sure you are. In my time at Anfield we always said we had the two best teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.”

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Brian Clough and Bill Shankly at a Charity Shield match in 1974
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When filling in a hotel registration for on a European trip, Shankly wrote ‘Football’ for occupation and ‘Anfield’ as his address.

The receptionist asked him to fill in his full address and he replied: “Lady, in Liverpool there is only one address that matter and that is where I live.”


Shankly often poked fun of how football got in the way of his personal life.

“Of course I didn’t take my wife to see Rochdale as an anniversary present,” he once remarked. “It was her birthday. Would I have got married in the football season? Anyway, it was Rochdale reserves.”


One of his more famous quotes is how football was more than just a game to him.

He said: “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.”



When Tommy Smith tried to explain his injured knee: “Take that bandage off. And what do you mean about your knee? It’s Liverpool’s knee!”


Shankly notoriously demanded a lot from his players and it clearly paid off judging by how many trophies he won at Liverpool.

This was mirrored in how he spoke about winning and losing. He said: “If you are first you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.”


The famous ‘This is Anfield’ plaque was installed while he was a manager at the club and he said: “This is to remind our lads who they’re playing for, and to remind opposition who they are playing against.”


Shankly always believed he was destined to be manager of Liverpool and both fitted together perfectly. He said: “Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool.”

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There is a statue of Bill Shankly outside Anfield
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He didn’t always get on with referees and had this to say about them: “The trouble with referee is that they know the rules, but they do not know the game.”


Shankly was very clear on the three most important part of a football club, he said: “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.”


The great manager spoke about how he wanted to be remembered by the people of Liverpool and there’s no doubt he achieved that aim.

He said: “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’.”


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