Terry McDermott was flicking through the TV channels last week when he paused on highlights of the 1981 European Cup final.
‘Highlights?’ he says of Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Real Madrid in Paris. ‘I’d always thought it was a c**p game. And you know what? I was right. It was more like the lowlights, they did well to fill 15 minutes – the only good thing was Alan Kennedy’s goal.’
McDermott is reflecting from the sunny surrounds of his Northumberland home. ‘You see this grass here,’ he says, pointing to turf which is a little scorched in places.
Terry McDermott paused on highlights of the 1981 European Cup final last week
He said of the game: ‘I’d always thought it was a c**p game. And you know what? I was right’
‘This was a different class to that pitch in Paris. They’d been playing bloody rugby on it the week before.’
The ‘highlights’ show one McDermott effort which flies way over the crossbar and we wonder whether the ball is still in orbit around the French capital.
‘Must have taken a bobble,’ he grins.
McDermott, at 66, is in good nick. The black perm is now white and flat but the moustache, bandy legs and slender physique are unmistakable traits of that box-to-box midfielder who, in 1980, became the first man to win the PFA and FWA player of the year prizes.
It was a double subsequently achieved by a stellar cast including Kenny Dalglish, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Thierry Henry and Mohamed Salah.
Our cup of tea in his back garden is keeping him from the golf course and we are delayed slightly when the gates to his driveway malfunction.
McDermott’s black perm is now white but the moustache remains an unmistakable trait
‘I need to get them sorted,’ he says. ‘I’m too old to be climbing over them now!’
During conversation about that night at the Parc des Princes, McDermott often wanders back to Liverpool’s 1977 and 1978 European Cup triumphs over Borussia Monchengladbach and Club Brugge. The memories of those games seem to come easier.
‘I suppose ’81 is the forgotten final in some ways,’ he says. ‘The win in ’77 was the first, ’78 was Wembley. By the time of ’81, that team was starting to break up a little bit. People forget, we finished fifth in the league.
‘At Liverpool, it was the league which mattered. We knew going into the final there would be a cull, even if we won.’
McDermott rejoined Newcastle United a year later, the club where he is held in just as high a regard as he is at Anfield.
In recent months, McDermott has come to reflect on his career and, at the same time, look to the future.
McDermott believes the ’81 success has become the forgotten final in Liverpool’s history
McDermott started in Paris as Liverpool beat Real Madrid through an Alan Kennedy goal
He has two sons and a daughter and, earlier this year, welcomed the birth of his first grand-daughter, of whom he talks with great excitement and demands hourly picture messages when he and wife Carole are not with her.
His children, he explains, are the reason why there is now an empty trophy cabinet inside the house just yards from where we sit. Later on Tuesday, his three European Cup winners’ medals will be among a lifetime of honours auctioned at Sotheby’s in London.
How does that feel?
‘I’m okay with it because I have the memories, no-one can take them away,’ says the former England international. ‘The main reason is to look after my kids, to help them get on the property ladder, I’m doing it for them.
‘It’s nice to have the medals, of course, but they’re always at risk of theft or, if not, you keep them in a vault at the bank, and what’s the point in that?
‘I am proud of what I’ve won. But I will be more proud if my children are all happy. If you can help them along the way, then I’ll be happy. This felt like the right time.’
Phil Thompson lifts the European Cup as Liverpool claim their third triumph in the competition
DOUBLE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
In 1980, Terry McDermott became the first player to win the Football Writers’ Association’s and PFA’s Player of the Year awards in the same season. Since then this feat has been achieved a further 20 times with Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo collecting both gongs in the same campaign twice.
1980 – Terry McDermott (Liverpool)
1983 – Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool)
1984 – Ian Rush (Liverpool)
1986 – Gary Lineker (Everton)
1987 – Clive Allen (Tottenham)
1988 – John Barnes (Liverpool)
1998 – Dennis Bergkamp (Arsenal)
1999 – David Ginola (Tottenham)
2000 – Roy Keane (Manchester United)
2001 – Teddy Sheringham (Manchester United)
2003 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
2004 – Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
2007 – Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2008 – Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
2010 – Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
2012 – Robin van Persie (Arsenal)
2013 – Gareth Bale (Tottenham)
2014 – Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
2015 – Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
2017 – N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
2018 – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Terry McDermott is still struggling to recall anything truly memorable from the match against Real Madrid, which will be replayed in Kiev this Saturday.
‘You can try and dress it up,’ he says, ‘but honestly, it was rubbish. Winning a third European Cup was incredible, but the game was poor.’
Instead, McDermott wants to recount tales about his manager, Bob Paisley, and his team-mates, the men he lined up alongside on that balmy night in Paris. And so he begins…
Ray Clemence – Goalkeeper, 32
‘I remember in the dressing-room afterwards, he was just sat there quiet. And Ray was always the life and soul. But he’d made his mind up before the game that, if we won, he was leaving.
‘We were winning so many things that he just wanted another challenge.
‘But what a great fella. I remember after the FA Cup final in 1977 when we’d lost 2-1 to Manchester United, we were waiting for a train from Watford with the wives and girlfriends, everyone was miserable.
‘Next thing, Ray is singing and dancing on the platform, putting on a show. That changed the mood and we were drinking all the way home. Four days later we won the club’s first European Cup.’
Phil Neal – Right back, 30
‘Mr Steady. He played more than 300 games on the trot. Imagine that? They get tired after three these days. But he was a bloody good player – not many got the better of him.
‘He was like our James Milner, you knew what you were going to get. Every week, Mr Dependable.’
Thompson and McDermott play cards on top of the Charity Shield as they travel back home
Phil Thompson – Centre back, 27
‘Different class. For someone of his build, a thin lad, he was so strong and never shirked a tackle, but he was quick with it.
‘He could read the game, and that’s why he’s a pundit now. He captained his country as well, and you don’t do that if you’re a bad player.
‘But ’81 was big for him because he’d missed ’77 through injury and in ’78 Emlyn Hughes was captain.
‘So for him, as a Scouser, to skipper us to victory, it was inspirational.
‘He was like me, brought up in Kirkby, and that’s a tough upbringing – even the Alsatians went around in pairs!
‘We used to room together and I’d drive him crazy by eating my boiled seafood, he hated the smell. “Please tell me you haven’t brought those again?” he’d say, and I’d tell him, “I f******* have, and I’m gonna enjoy them”.
‘I remember during the victory parade there was no toilet on the bus so Phil and his girlfriend ran off and used someone’s house.
‘Imagine that, the European Cup-winning captain knocking at your door! By the time he came back out they had to jump in an ice-cream van to catch us up!’
Alan Hansen – Centre back, 25
‘Jocky, what a guy. When he came down from Partick Thistle in 1977 he joined the non-married clan with me, Thommo and Alan Kennedy. We were out most nights, either around the social clubs or in a nightclub.
‘There were quite a few of us liked a pint, but we must have been doing something right to win all of those trophies.
‘A girl called Karen used to receive all the mail into the club. Sometimes it would be, “Dear Mr Paisley, three of your players were in a nightclub until two o’clock in the morning this week…”.
‘She used to rip those ones and put them in the bin. We liked her.
‘I remember not long after Alan signed he went to Blackpool with his mates, that’s what the Scots did. They went skinny-dipping on the beach and got collared by the police, he got a bit of a ticking-off for that.
‘But what a player. He’s among the best three British centre-backs we’ve ever had. He had everything – good in the air, brilliant on the floor, so cool.’
Alan Kennedy – Left back, 26
‘When I first signed for Newcastle in 1973 I stayed at his parents’ house and was supposed to be there for two weeks. I ended up staying 22 months!
‘At 12 o’clock on matchdays his mother would make a full roast dinner. I’d finish that at 12.30pm and then she would offer me apple pie and custard. “Ah, go on then,” I’d say. But it never did me any harm!
‘Myself and Alan were in the Newcastle team which was beaten by Liverpool in the 1974 FA Cup final. There were as many Newcastle players as Liverpool (Clemence and Thompson) who went on to play in Paris, strange that is.
‘But Alan was underrated. He scored two goals to win European Cups. He probably didn’t get the credit he deserved at the time. Now… he never shuts about them!’
McDermott (right) poses alongside Jimmy Case and Graeme Souness in January 1979
Phil Neal, Terry McDermott, Sammy Lee and Ray Clemence pose with their partners
Sammy Lee – Right midfield, 22
‘For a little stocky guy he was actually quite quick, I didn’t realise. I was watching those highlights last week and he was running away from their players. But he had real power and was one of our best in the final.
‘He had this habit of always saying “sorry”. Even when you see him now it’s, “Yeah, sorry, sorry about that”. I don’t know what he’s got to apologise about, he was a great player!
Graeme Souness – Central midfield, 28
‘He could do everything. A wonderful player but was our enforcer as well. I remember a European game at Anfield and someone went through me, nearly snapped my ankle.
‘Graeme lent over me and said, “Which one was it again?”. I went off for treatment and hobbled back on. By that time the fella who’d done me was being taken off on a stretcher!
‘Before the final UEFA made us put plasters over the Umbro badge on our kit. As soon as we got out Graeme led the way by ripping them off, “F*** this,” he said, “They’re hardly going to stop the game, are they?”.
‘But he had style, he drank champagne while we were on lager. We were all trying to pull girls from the local supermarket and he walked in with Miss World, Mary Stavin.
‘You couldn’t concentrate. Although I only found out recently his perm wasn’t natural, he’d had it done, just like the rest of us.
‘I love him but wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. I remember one scrap he had with Alan Kennedy. Nothing big, just ‘bang, bang’. It didn’t last long…’
Ray Kennedy – Left midfield, 29
‘Ray was a smart guy, nice looking. We were like Rag, Tag and Bobtail and he always had the best of gear. He could play as well and got some big goals.
‘I think it was around 1981 that he started getting the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
‘He was losing a little bit of energy, because he really could get up and down. It’s sad, God bless him, a great guy.’
McDermott scored in Liverpool’s maiden European Cup win over Borussia Monchengladbach
David Johnson – Striker, 29
‘Laugh a minute. His nickname was ‘Doc’. If you came in with a bad head because you’d been drinking, or even if you just felt unwell, you’d go to him rather than to the medical room.
‘He had a bag full of potions and tablets. You’d talk to him like a doctor and he’d ask, in all seriousness, “What are your symptoms?”. He had some concoction for everything.
‘But he’s another one who didn’t get the credit he deserved. They all thought he was a good player, but he was better than that.’
Kenny Dalglish – Striker, 30
‘Wow. Him and Kevin Keegan were the best I ever played with, I can’t separate them. Kenny’s first training session in 1977, he was unbelievable.
‘You talk between yourselves and we were like, “Bloody hell, he’s not bad”. But he did it for the entirety of his time there, he never had a bad season.
‘Those who don’t know him think he’s a miserable sod, but he’s brilliant company, the centre of attention. A funny guy.
‘Saying that, he did live in the posh houses in Southport while we were rouging it in Kirkby…’
Jimmy Case – Substitute, 27
‘He was another hard man alongside Souey. But me and him always felt vulnerable to being substituted.
‘There was a bag which was supposed to have all the numbers in for when you made a change. Alan Hansen used to say, “There’s only two numbers in there – 8 and 10 for Jimmy and Terry!”
‘A great player though, how he was never capped by England I’ll never know.’
McDermott relaxes at the airport with former Liverpool skipper Emlyn Hughes
Bob Paisley – Manager, 63
‘You don’t win those trophies without being a great manager. But he wasn’t a good communicator, he would admit that himself.
‘I used to impersonate him. He came in once and I was giving the team-talk. He said, ‘”Do you want to pick the team as well?”.
‘I wish I had because half the time we didn’t know it. We had two “Daves”, two “Phils”, two “Alans” and he never made it clear which one he meant. But we thought the world of him and that showed on the pitch.
‘He signed me as well, so he wasn’t a bad judge of a player!’