Ian St John: Former Liverpool & Scotland forward dies at age 82

Former Liverpool and Scotland forward Ian St John has died at the age of 82 after a long illness.

St John joined Liverpool from hometown team Motherwell in 1961 for a club record £37,500 and played 425 games for the Anfield side, scoring 118 goals, during a decade of service.

He won two top-flight titles and scored the decisive goal as Liverpool lifted their first FA Cup in 1965.

St John also earned 21 Scotland caps and managed Motherwell and Portsmouth.

He latterly enjoyed a successful career as a TV pundit, teaming up with former England striker Jimmy Greaves to front the hugely popular 'Saint and Greavsie' show which ran until 1992.

The St John family's statement said: "It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that after a long illness we have lost a husband, father and grandfather.

"He passed away peacefully with his family at his bedside. We would like to thank all the staff at Arrowe Park Hospital for their hard work and dedication during these very difficult times."

Premier League champions Liverpool are "deeply saddened" by the loss of a "true Anfield legend".

Ian St John scored 118 goals in 425 games for Liverpool
Ian St John scored 118 goals in 425 games for Liverpool

'We can't afford not to buy him'

St John's finishing prowess was evident from his early days at Motherwell, the club he had watched as a supporter lifting the Scottish Cup for the first time in 1952 before joining five years later.

His prolific scoring record earned him international recognition and a move to Liverpool under fellow Scot Bill Shankly where he soon became a fans' favourite.

It has gone down in Liverpool mythology that when the board were reluctant to spend a record fee on the player, Shankly's reply was: "We can't afford not to buy him."

St John quickly began to prove his worth, scoring a hat-trick on his debut, a 4-3 defeat to Everton in the Liverpool Senior Cup. Within 12 months his 22 league goals had helped Liverpool secure the Second Division title.

He matched that total in season 1963-64 as the Anfield men won their first top-flight crown in 17 years, with a second title following two years later.

Perhaps his most iconic moment in the red shirt came at Wembley in 1965 when his headed winner in extra time overcame Leeds United 2-1 to give Liverpool their first FA Cup.

A Scotland international by age 20, St John netted nine times in his 21 appearances for his country.

After leaving Liverpool he had shorts spells with South African sides Hellenic and Cape Town City either side of a season with Coventry City, before ending his playing days at Tranmere Rovers.

He returned to Motherwell as manager in 1973, then moved on to Portsmouth before embarking on a successful career in broadcasting.

St John's winner helped Liverpool claim the 1965 FA Cup
St John's winner helped Liverpool claim the 1965 FA Cup

'St John helped make Liverpool what it is today' - reaction

Former Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher, and current Scotland skipper and Anfield full-back Andy Robertson, were among those to pay tribute.

"RIP Ian St John," Carragher wrote. "One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today."

Robertson added: "A man of warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy. Scotland and Liverpool has lost a true giant. My love goes to his family. Rest in peace Ian St John."

Another former Liverpool skipper, Steven Gerrard, heard the news during his Rangers press conference.

"I'm devastated," the Rangers manager said. "He's a fantastic guy, really insightful in terms of his career and experience at Liverpool and trying to pass on a lot of knowledge and expertise.

"He's a legend and an iconic figure at the club and someone I've got incredible respect for."

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