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England vs Scotland legends: The genius of Kenny Dalglish

England vs Scotland
(Image credit: PA Images)

It says much for Kenny Dalglish’s enduring genius that his last cap for Scotland came in 1986, at the age of 35. 

By the time of that Euro 88 qualifier against Luxembourg, the living legend had been a club manager for over a year and recently won a league and cup double – which must have been an interesting dressing room dynamic for new Scotland boss Andy Roxburgh, who had never managed a club at all. 

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Given the demands of the Anfield hotseat, it’s remarkable that Dalglish played on for the national team, even after securing his 100th cap (his total of 102 is still a record). The first was also a European Championship qualifier, in 1972, when the hot young Celt came off the bench against Belgium. Yet he would never make it to the finals of a European Championship. 

His club and country careers may seem vastly different – medals vs misery – but there were highs in the dark blue. 

The visionary striker scored Scotland’s first in that improbable win over the Dutch at Argentina 78, and steered them to Spain 82, their third World Cup in a row, with a vital winner in Israel (in a red away shirt, admittedly). 

There were several goals against England, too, which always entertains the Tartan Army, and he topped the SFA’s Greatest Scotland Player poll last year, despite presumably lacking votes from half of Glasgow. Second was Denis Law, and they still share the national team’s goalscoring record; 30 each. 

King Kenny was also selected for the 1986 World Cup squad before injury intervened, which raises the intriguing scenario of Liverpool’s boss spending
a month under the guidance of Scotland’s caretaker gaffer, Alex Ferguson, who would join Manchester United shortly afterwards. You can’t imagine Dalglish sitting through the hairdryer, somehow.

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