No.49 - Tony Currie
No.48 - Terry Butcher
No.47 - Gerry Hitchens
No.46 - Paul Ince
No.45 - George Camsell
No.44 - Wayne Rooney
No.43 - Jackie Milburn
No.42 - Roger Hunt
No.41 - Rio Ferdinand
No.40 - Wilf Mannion
No.39 - Frank Lampard
No.38 - John Barnes
No.37 - Nat Lofthouse
No.36 - Eddie Hapgood
No.35 - Chris Waddle
No.34 - David Platt
50 caps, 5 goals
As Fabio Capello continues to flit through the Premier League ranks looking for the ideal man to fill England's right-back slot, he must be wishing he had a guy like Phil Neal at his disposal.
There were few more reliable players than the Irchester native in his day. Lively, aggressive and hugely dependable, he remains one of the most decorated players in the history of the English game.
He made his name with Northampton Town in the old Fourth Division - he was there when the Cobblers were famously thrashed 8-2 by Manchester United in the FA Cup, with George Best scoring six goals.
After six years and 187 league appearances for Northampton - an impressive tally for a 23-year-old - Neal was snapped up by Liverpool in 1974. He holds the distinction of being Bob Paisley's very first signing, and his arrival heralded the beginning of a glorious new era at Anfield - or rather, the smooth transition from Bill Shankly's reign.
European glory in Rome
Neal would go on to win no less than eight First Division titles with Liverpool - a record surpassed only recently by Ryan Giggs - as a mainstay in defence, playing alongside the likes of Emlyn Hughes, Tommy Smith, Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson.
Amazingly, he never won the FA Cup during his time on Merseyside (the club claimed the trophy in 1974 and 1986 - the years just before and after he left, respectively). However, there might not have been space for such a medal on his mantelpiece, given his astronomical success in continental competition.
Having overcome Club Brugge to take out the UEFA Cup in 1976, Liverpool went on to snare their first European Cup the very next season - with Neal scoring the decisive penalty in the final. He was there as the Scousers downed Brugge once more to make it back-to-back triumphs, and when they edged out Real Madrid three years late.
The last of his four European Cup medals was won in 1984, when Joe Fagan's side faced Roma on their own patch. It was fitting that it should take place at the Stadio Olimpico, the scene of Liverpool's first triumph; and it was equally appropriate that Neal should play a starring role, netting twice - once in open play, once in the shootout.
BEST USER COMMENT
"perhaps the best english right-back of all time! great!" - charlton | london
Add Your Comment Below!
Two years after calling it quits with England, and one after his heroics in Rome, Neal left Liverpool. With the arrival of the ultra-versatile Steve Nicol, he decided to join Bolton Wanderers as player-manager, eventually hanging up the boots in 1989. (He remained boss of the Trotters until 1992).
In all, Neal amassed over 700 league games during his dazzling career, and only Ian Callaghan, Emlyn Hughes and Ray Clemence have featured more often for the Reds. He also played an astonishing 471 consecutive competitive games for the Anfield club, stretching from October 23, 1976, to September 4, 1983. An expert penalty-taker, he amassed more than 90 goals throughout his club career.
Nowadays a more often found on the television screen than the playing field, Neal will always be remembered as an energetic, tenacious full-back who was a critical member of one of the most successful club sides in history. Although an incredibly team-oriented performer, the great Kenny Dalglish once described him as "the best player I ever played with". Is there any higher praise than that?
English League Championship (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986)
UEFA Cup (1976)
Charity Shield (1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982)
European Cup (1977, 1978, 1981, 1984)
European Super Cup (1977)
Football League Cup (1981, 1982, 1983, 1984)
DID YOU KNOW... that Phil Neal's son, Ashley, was on the books at Liverpool but had a promising career cut short by injury?
Goal.com invites the readers to leave their comments about Phil Neal below. The best one submitted within 24 hours - whether funny, informative or just purely passionate - will be added to the article. Keep them clean, fairly short and start writing now for your chance to be a part of the series!