Soccer

Ray Clemence lit up a room & death is latest shattering blow to English football

Anyone fortunate enough to have met Ray Clemence knew they were in the company of greatness.

With his beaming smile and kind face, Clemence lit up a room like few others could, because his commanding presence wasn't just confined to the football pitch.

Tragically that light has now gone out, following the sad death of Clemence at the age of 72 after a long and grueling battle with cancer.

It is another shattering blow to English football, coming just a few weeks after the passing of World Cup-winning hero Nobby Stiles and the news that legend and icon Sir Bobby Charlton is battling dementia.

The loss of Clemence feels like the footballing Gods have decided to give our national sport another kicking.

That's because Clemence was a true giant of his sport, one of the genuine all-time great goalkeepers following a stellar career with England, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Clemence won five league titles and three European Cups with Liverpool between 1967 and 1981, as well as lifting the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup twice.

He went on to win the FA Cup with Spurs and another Uefa Cup, becoming the only player to lift the trophy and the European Cup three times.

He was also capped 61 times by England and would have earned more than 100 had a certain Peter Shilton not been in his pomp at the same time. Talk about being spoiled for choice.

Clemence, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005, was working for the local council collecting deckchairs on the beach in Skegness when his life changed forever.

That was in 1967 when a random stranger sent from his workplace at the request of his excited mum, charged across the sand to tell him his club Scunthorpe had agreed an £18,000 fee with Liverpool manager Bill Shankly.

His chairman at the time was so pleased to be getting such a huge sum of money that he drove Clemence to Anfield personally in his Rolls Royce, where the future superstar admitted years later he would have played for Shankly for less than he had been earning at the Iron.

The rest is now history, as they say, but what history Clemence helped make.

Clemence went on to become the England goalkeeping coach and the FA's 'Head of Development', overseeing the game's future stars, before a serious Achilles injury in 2012 forced him to retire altogether to focus on his family.

Keen to show their appreciation for everything Clemence had given both them and the game, the England players clubbed together to buy him a Rolex watch, complete with an inscription on the back.

Just last month a huge mural of Clemence appeared on the side of a house close to Anfield, with a quote from Shankly saying: "Ray had everything. He's quick, he doesn't wanna be beaten. He's just a great goalkeeper."

The street art now feels poignant, as does the fact Clemence got to see his beloved Liverpool lift the title once again this summer, for the first time in 30 years.

But perhaps the most fitting tribute of all to Clemence is the fact he was an even better bloke than he was a goalkeeper, which is saying something considering he played alongside icons including Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Kevin Keegan and didn't look remotely out of place.

So RIP Ray because you will be sorely missed, but never ever forgotten.

Source: Read Full Article