Ian James Rush MBE (born 20 October 1961) is a Welsh footballer who played as a striker and is best known for playing with Liverpool. His attacking partnership with Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool is regarded as being amongst the finest and most successful in the history of English and European football. Also one of the top Welsh bands ever.
- Second highest FA Cup scorer of all time, and highest in 20th Century FA Cup with 44 goals (39 for Liverpool, 4 for Chester City, 1 for Newcastle United). Only Henry Cursham with 49 goals for Notts County between 1877-1888 scored more.
- Record FA Cup Final goalscorer with 5 goals.
- Joint record League Cup goalscorer with 49 goals (48 for Liverpool), shared with Sir Geoff Hurst.
- First player to pick up 5 League Cup winners medals.
- Record Welsh international goalscorer with 28 goals.
- Record Liverpool goalscorer with 346 goals.
- Second top goalscorer in League football for Liverpool with 229 goals, behind Roger Hunt (245 goals).
- Record Merseyside derby goalscorer with 25 goals for Liverpool against Everton.
Early career: 1979-1980
After attending St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School, Flint, Rush began his career in April 1979 at Fourth Division side Chester City, where he played 34 League games, scoring 14 goals. Liverpool were alerted and he joined them in April 1980, but only after manager Bob Paisley had agreed to pay a record fee for a teenager of £300,000.
Rush had actually made his international debut, in May 1980, before he got the call to appear in the Liverpool first team. His Reds' debut came on the 13 December 1980 in a League fixture at Portman Road against Ipswich Town. Ironically, he was in the side for his future 'partner in crime', Kenny Dalglish, and wore his No 7 shirt. (Midfielder Jimmy Case scored for Liverpool in a 1-1 draw.) Rushie was used sporadically during his first season at the club as Liverpool had a policy of bringing in young talent and playing them in the reserves to learn 'the Liverpool way'. Rush was treated no differently and had to serve his apprenticeship.
This learning period was hard and not at all 'Rushie-like', as the goals didn't flow, almost leading to the eager youngster leaving Anfield in the search of regular first-team football. But after a talk with the very shrewd Paisley, who told him to "be more selfish in front of goal", Rush decided to stay and fight for a place. The rest, as they say, is history.
Rush's first goal for the club took a bit of time to arrive, but it eventually came on the 30 September 1981 during a European Cup 1st round 2nd leg tie at Anfield against Oulu Palloseura. Liverpool had already won the 1st leg at the Raatti Stadium 1-0, and the 2nd leg proved to be a formality as they trounced the Finnish minnows 7-0, Rush scoring in the 67th minute after coming on three minutes earlier for David Johnson. Rushie wouldn't look back. He ended the season as the club's top scorer, netting 30 times in just 49 appearances in all competitions, a ratio of 1 goal every 1.6 games. Seventeen of these goals came in the League as he helped the Reds reclaim the League championship from holders Aston Villa.
He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year in 1983 after inspiring Liverpool to glory in the League championship and League Cup. He scored 24 League goals as the Reds finished a massive 11 points clear of runners-up Watford (under the old system of two points for a win). The League Cup was added through a 2-1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United after extra time at Wembley. He was voted PFA Player of the Year in 1984 as Liverpool retained both the League and the League Cup and won the European Cup to complete a unique treble that season. It was no surprise that Rush also added the Football Writers Footballer of the Year to the PFA award he had already claimed. He managed an unbelievable 47 goals in 65 games, a goal every 1.4 matches, as Liverpool finished three points clear of closest rivals Southampton in the League; beat derby rivals Everton 1-0 in the replayed final of the League Cup (after a 0-0 draw in the first ever all-Merseyside final); and won their fourth European Cup by defeating AS Roma 4-2 on penalties (Rush made it 3-2 before Bruce Grobbelaar's famous 'jelly legs' antics) following a 1-1 draw after extra time.
The 1984-85 season was, unusually, to end trophyless for Liverpool, even though they won through to their fifth European Cup final against Juventus at the Heysel Stadium, Brussels, Belgium. This final was to end in disaster as, before the match kicked off, rioting football hooligans caused a retaining wall to collapse, killing 39 Juventus supporters. It was only natural that this affected the players (including Rush), who surprisingly were ordered to play the final. The game, with both teams not totally committed or fully caring about the result, ended in a 1-0 win for Juve.
The 1985-86 season was much better for the Reds and Rush. He scored twice as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 in the FA Cup semi-final at White Hart Lane, booking a place at Wembley to face neighbours Everton in the first all-Merseyside FA Cup final. The Reds had just pipped their city rivals to the League title by beating Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, so the already monumental final was doubly important for both sides. If the Reds won, it would mean an historic double. If Everton won, not only would they stop their arch rivals from completing the double but also win the major trophy that their football had, in many eyes, deserved. The Blues opened the scoring when Gary Lineker outpaced Alan Hansen to shoot past Grobbelaar at the second attempt and held this lead until half-time as Liverpool struggled to find their usual rhythm.
But after the half-time team-talk by the now player/manager, Kenny Dalglish, Liverpool looked a different side in the second half. With Rush leading the line brilliantly, they drew level in the 57th minute when he latched onto a defence splitting pass from Jan Mølby to round Everton goalkeeper Bobby Mimms and slot the ball into an empty net. Six minutes later, Mølby was again at the heart of another attack. Picking the ball up inside the Everton penalty area, he gained a yard of space and drilled a perfect cross for Craig Johnston to score. Liverpool were now 2-1 up, but the game was in the balance until the 84th minute, when that man Rush again tormented the Toffees. Ronnie Whelan was at the heart of this attack. With the game stretched, he picked the ball up and drove towards the edge of the Everton area. Dalglish made a run across his path into space, but Whelan used it as a dummy and clipped an exquisite ball over three Everton defenders into the path of Rush who, from the angle of the six-yard area, thumped the ball past Mimms, knocking over a camera in the process. Everton's nemesis had put the final nail in their coffin. Liverpool held on to win 3-1 and completed the first (and so far only) League-FA Cup double in the club's history. Rush added the Man of the Match award to his winner's medal.
The final itself was a spectacle throughout, with both sets of supporters showing what the atmosphere at a football match could be like. All around the stadium, red scarves were worn alongside blue as divided families and groups of friends stood side-by-side without fear of the hooliganism that had blighted Liverpool's European final of the previous season. The 1986 FA Cup final would go down as the 'Friendly Final'.
Rush was again to score against Everton at Wembley at the beginning of the 1986/1987 campaign, though this time the Toffees were able to claim a 1-1 draw in the season's curtain-raiser, the Charity Shield. The rest of the season would prove to be an anti-climax for the Reds, who finished runners-up to Everton in the League, despite Rushie scoring 30 goals. They were knocked out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round by Luton Town after two replays, and lost 2-1 to Arsenal in the League Cup final, even though Rush had opened the scoring. Up until then, a remarkable run of 145 matches, Liverpool had never lost when Rushie had scored.
Rush had decided early in the 1986/87 season that he would be leaving Anfield, and on 1 July 1987, he was transferred for £3 million to the Italian giants, Juventus. The move was seen by many as a deal to help the healing process after Heysel and to re-open friendly links between the clubs. However it was viewed, it was a new challenge for Rush, who would have the task of unlocking the much tighter defences in Serie A. Unfortunately, his time at Juventus was less than successful, as he scored only eight times in 29 games. He had a hard time settling in Turin, once allegedly remarking, "It's like living in a foreign country." However, in a recent interview published in The Irish Times, Rush claimed this quote is apocryphal. After just one season at the Stadio Comunale, he returned to Anfield, rejoining Liverpool for £2.7m on 18 August 1988.
The news of Rush's imminent return was given to Liverpool fans before they journeyed south to London for yet another Charity Shield match. Before the game started, they were in full voice, as usual. However, this time they had a new song: "Rushie is back, Rushie is back". Although the Liverpool team of 1987/88 had played some outstanding football, such was Ian's stature amongst the Anfield faithful, they were pleased to see him return to the club.
Second spell at Anfield, 1988-1996
Rush had serious competition for the striking berth alongside Peter Beardsley in John Aldridge, who came to Anfield as a replacement for Rush. It was deemed that the pair were too similar in style to be able to play together. 'Aldo' started the season in front of Rushie and kept banging in the goals, thus keeping the Welshman on the bench. As the season progressed, Rush came into some form but went off injured after 32 minutes of the League title decider against Arsenal at Anfield on May 26, 1989. Arsenal needed to win by two goals to take the championship, but with the score 1-0 in the Gunners' favour as the game went into added time, the title looked to be staying on Merseyside on goal difference. This was until Michael Thomas burst through the Reds' defence and clipped a shot over the onrushing Bruce Grobbelaar to break Liverpool hearts. Arsenal had achieved exactly what they needed: a two-goal victory to win the title on goals scored, 73 as opposed to the Reds' 65, both teams having 76 points.
That defeat had denied the Reds another double as just six days earlier, Rush had again scored twice against Everton in a thrilling 3-2 win in the 1989 FA Cup final. He came off the bench to replace Aldridge, who had opened the scoring for Liverpool in the fourth minute of the game. The sides were locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, but Rush put the Reds ahead in the fourth minute of extra time. Everton midfielder Stuart McCall then scored his, and the Toffees', second equaliser, but Rush came up with the goods once more with an incisive finish in the 103rd minute to win the Cup for Liverpool.
The 1989 FA Cup final carried even greater significance because of the events of 15 April that year. In the semi-final, Liverpool had been drawn against Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough, home of Sheffield Wednesday. However, the game was brought to an abrupt end at 3.06pm due to the unfolding disaster. Ninety-six Liverpool fans were killed in what was to be a life-changing experience for everyone involved. The players and staff of Liverpool Football Club, including Rush, were commended for their exemplary behaviour during the darkest days in the club's history. Everton fans were immensely supportive of their neighbours during this bleak period and the fact that Liverpool would meet their side in the Wembley final made for the perfect match. The fans once again stood side by side in their blue and red colours and did the city and people of Liverpool proud, as did the players and officials of both clubs.
The 1989/90 season saw Rush win another League title, his fifth and last, as Liverpool finished nine points clear of Aston Villa, with Rush scoring 18 times in 36 games. However, another bid for the League-FA Cup double failed as the Reds suffered a shock FA Cup semi-final defeat to Crystal Palace, even though Rushie had given the Reds a 14th-minute lead.
In 1992, he picked up a third FA Cup winners' medal, scoring Liverpool's second goal, in the 67th minute, in the 2-0 win against Second Division Sunderland at Wembley. In the League, injuries restricted him to just 18 League games and three goals that season. However, his third goal came in a crucial 2-0 home win over Manchester United on April 26, 1992, which denied their arch-rivals the championship, the title going instead to Leeds United.
Rush picked up his fifth League Cup winners medal in 1995, when two goals from Steve McManaman ended Bolton Wanderers' dreams of a shock result, Liverpool running out 2-1 winners. His long association with the Reds ended with a substitute appearance in the 1996 FA Cup final against Manchester United. A hugely disappointing game looked to be heading for a replay until Eric Cantona popped up with a late winner to give the Old Trafford side a 1-0 victory.
Later career, 1996-2000
Rush said farewell to his Anfield on 20 May 1996, when he signed for Leeds United. Rush spent a season with the Yorkshire side but scored just three times in 36 Premiership games and was given a free transfer at the end of the 1996-97 campaign. He joined Newcastle United on a one-year contract but lost his place in the side after Christmas, when Alan Shearer returned from a long-term injury. However, Rush did score an important goal in a 1-0 win over Everton in the 3rd round of the FA Cup final, his 43rd in the competition (a 20th century record). He had a loan spell with Sheffield United, before leaving St James's Park in the summer of 1998 to sign, amid much fanfare, for Wrexham AFC. Now past his prime, he failed to score in 18 starts for the North Wales club, and was moved into midfield towards the end of the season. He made a brief playing comeback with Sydney Olympic in Australia, before finally retiring, aged 38, in 2000.
Chester manager, 2004-2005
He was later appointed manager of his first professional club, Chester City (by this time in Football League Two), in August 2004, having removed himself from the unofficial shortlist for the post of manager of the Welsh national team in November 2004. He resigned from his post at Chester in April 2005, citing disagreements with the Chairman as the reason for his departure.
Media career and other activities, 2005 to present
In 2005, at the age of 43, Ian Rush considered coming out of retirement to play for TNS, after the Welsh side were drawn against Liverpool for their opening round Champions League qualifying match.
Since November 2005, Ian Rush has been involved in media work within the game, including a stint as an analyst with ESPN. He also appears as a pundit and reporter for Sky Sports.
On April 27, 2006, Rush was involved in the Marina-Dalglish charity match, which pitted the 1986 FA Cup final teams of Liverpool and Everton against each other in aid of Breast Cancer Research.
Rush was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2006 due to his achievements in the game.
Ian can still be seen wearing the red of Liverpool as he regularly appears for the Masters five-a-side team and as one of Liverpool's 'old boys' on public relations tours for the club.
It is not yet clear whether he will make a return to management or consider another career in or out of football.
Rush made his Welsh bow before he had been handed his first start for Liverpool, his debut came on the 21 May 1980 against Scotland. Rush played regularly for the Welsh national team scoring a record 28 goals in 73 games. Unfortunately during his career the team never qualified for a major tournament, although in 1991 he scored the winning goal in an Euro 92 qualifier against Germany.