Liverpool’s tradition of winning crucial CL games decided by penalties and penalty shootouts goes back to the time they won their first title in 1977.
Phil Neal was the full back who scored the game winning penalty that gave Liverpool their first title in 1977 beating Borussia Moenchengladbach, 3-1. He reminisces about that penalty kick.
That was a fantastic kind of night for our club. We were under a lot of pressure from Moenchengladbach. It´s Kevin’s swansong night. He’s going to Hamburg. We all wanted him to have a good send-off. When he gets brought down and points to the spot I thought ‘bloody hell.’ I got a long walk from right-back to pick the ball up. Ian Callaghan rarely says a thing but even he said: ‘Nealy, put this in.’ You got someone like Tommy Smith who said: ‘Nealy, if you miss this I going to fucking break your back.’ They were all under pressure. I hadn’t even walked ten yards. Now I’ve got to pick the ball up. Wolfgang Knieb incidentally absolutely towered over Ray Clemence. He was big lanky boy so I thought I’ll keep it low. My favourite side was the keeper’s left. It’s ironic how adrenaline can get to you. Thank goodness it went in off the post.
Liverpool won their fourth title in 1984 beating AS Roma in a penalty shootout. And Phil Neal was called on to make the PK as Steve Nicol missed the first one.
The other one is when Stevie Nicol jumped ahead in the European Cup final in 84. He jumped the gun and Souness said: ‘Let him go. He’s nervous, it’s his first final. Le him go.’ Other than me taking the first one as I was ordered to do by Joe. He misses it and they score their first. So I am taking our second. If this one doesn’t go in, we are two down. I am conscious of that. It’s even more important than the one against Moenchengladbach because we’re going to be back in it or be way down the line. Conte and Graziani missed theirs. Isn’t it ironic that Graziani in failing to score went into a mental institution? Pearcy misses for England and gets a contract with McDonalds for hundred grand. Graziani misses one and gets into a loony home.
Bob Paisley’s and Joe Fagan’s teams in the 70′s and 80′s won four CL titles and Phil Neal was a part of every single one of them. Neal’s favourite player on the Liverpool squad is Steve Finnan. He sees a little bit of him in Finnan. And he obviously backs Liverpool to win the match against AC Milan .
Phil Neal made a career out of taking penalties and was very successful. And oddly enough, he seems to have enjoyed taking them. He is also an oil painter and a gourmand. Phil Neal unplugged.