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'I had a broken wrist – I didn't know if I'd play until the last moment...' Remembering when Liverpool beat Real Madrid in Paris with matchwinner Alan Kennedy

Alan Kennedy and Phil Neal, Liverpool European Cup 1981
(Image credit: Getty Images)

From the moment Real Madrid overcame Manchester City to book their place in the Champions League final against Liverpool, Alan Kennedy knew he was going to be a busy man.

The legendary Liverpool left-back was the last man to score the winning goal between the Reds and the Whites in a European Cup final, in Paris no less.

“It didn’t matter who scored the goal,” he insists when FourFourTwo meet up with him.” If it was [Kenny] Dalglish, David Johnson or Terry McDermott, it’s [just] about winning the game. That’s what we looked at after the game.”

When we meet up, Kennedy, now aged 67, has just finished playing in a walking football match at Anfield Community Centre. Before the match he’d been doing media for Liverpool’s TV station alongside 1981’s European Cup-winning captain, Phil Thompson.

No doubt, the story of Thompson taking the European Cup to a pub in Kirkby, The Falcon, has been told once again. It’s a story of legend and one some people wonder if true. It is.

“We knew that Phil had it but we didn’t know what he was going to with it,” explains Kennedy. “We thought he might take it in his Ford Capri – a souped up one if I remember rightly! – and put it on the front seat and everyone else had to get in the back. 

“He knew he had to look after it and was responsible for it and the rest is history about going to some of the pubs in Kirkby.”

Speaking to Kennedy it’s clear that he isn’t too keen on the media spotlight, 41 years after his heroics in the Parc des Princes. Indeed, he’s more enthused when discussing the match he’s just finished playing in.

“It’s fantastic,” he says, but his competitive edge still hasn’t gone away: “I’m the most miserable person in the world when we get beaten.”

His side have just lost: “Maybe it’s because we were wearing white – a bit like Real Madrid vs Liverpool! Liverpool won this one and I hope they win the next one as well!”

Memories of '81

We ask about his memories of the week before the final in 1981, when he was arguably less busy than the week before the final this time.

"The week before was just normal training and a build-up to the final,” he recalls. “It wasn’t a special week, we travelled on the Monday and went to the stadium and saw how bad the pitch was!

“We looked at what we had to do and then Bob Paisley named the team. He named it quite close to the actual kick-off because he didn’t want anyone to know what it was going to be. 

“I had an injury – a broken wrist – and whether they were taking a chance on it nobody knew until the final moment.”

Liverpool did take a chance and then Kennedy took his, controlling a throw-in from Ray Kennedy, beating one defender, then firing in across the face of goal into the opposite far corner.

“It wasn’t about me scoring the winning goal – we still had eight minutes left to play,” he says, humbly.

“Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Ronnie Moran were good at bringing you right back down to earth, and they basically said the 11 players on the pitch, and one or two subs, were part of Liverpool Football Club.

“To play for your club and be in a European Cup final was just tremendous. There were only about  48,000-50,000 there – most of them were from Liverpool!”

The best two teams in the world

Of course, Liverpool and Real Madrid have contested another European Cup final since then – in Kyiv in 2018.

A nightmare night for Jurgen Klopp’s side, but they’re a different proposition now, having won every single club trophy possible in the four years since.

"They’re much more experienced now,” says Kennedy. “No matter whether they go a goal behind, they still know how to get something out of it. That’s what may happen against Real Madrid.

“There’s no doubt about it, they are the two best teams in the world - people might say Man City, but Real Madrid beat them [in the semi-final]. 

“They wait for mistakes from players and they capitalise on it and that’s what they did against Man City. 

“I just feel as though this game is going to be fantastic on the football side. If we see Benzema and Mo Salah at their best, we will get goals.”

Kennedy will be hoping that the winning goal is for a Liverpool player – then maybe then he won’t be so in demand in the media the next time these two teams meet...

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Matt Ladson is the co-founder and editor of This Is Anfield, the independent Liverpool news and comment website, and covers all areas of the Reds for FourFourTwo – including transfer analysis, interviews, title wins and European trophies. As well as writing about Liverpool for FourFourTwo he also contributes to other titles including Yahoo and Bleacher Report. He is a lifelong fan of the Reds.