By Julien Pretot
May 5 (Reuters) – Tough-tackling midfielder Graeme Souness was the engine room of Liverpool’s great team of the late 1970s and early ’80s and the no-nonsense Scot made a huge impression on and off the pitch.
He recently hit the headlines for telling Manchester United’s France playmaker Paul Pogba, who claimed he didn’t know who Souness was, to put his medals on the table.
A winner of five top-flight titles and three European Cups in his 1978-84 spell at Anfield, Souness, who turns 67 on Wednesday, has never shied away from controversy.
During his only season as Galatasaray coach in 1995-96, he ran to the middle of the pitch at arch-rivals Fenerbahce to plant the club’s flag in the centre after an extra-time victory in the Turkish Cup final before being forced to run back to the dressing room to escape the wrath of the home fans.
While he thought the incident would upset the Galatasaray officials, Souness instead earned eternal fame for his actions.
“He’s always going to be a legend for Galatasaray. It’s like the birth of Jesus, before Jesus, after Jesus. So it is like that, before Souness after Souness,” said Galatasaray fan Metecan Kanbur.
Planting the flag on enemy territory earned him the nickname of Ulubatli Souness, after Ottoman hero Ulubatli Hasan, who raised the flag of victory at the siege of Constantinople in 1453.
Souness’s influence was felt on the pitch, where he won 54 caps for Scotland from 1974-86, but also from the dugout when he joined Rangers as player-manager in April 1986 and baccarat online kick-started one of the Glasgow club’s most successful eras.
An assertive manager, he led Rangers to four league titles over five seasons in charge after an eight-year drought, though he left to join Liverpool just before the ’91 triumph.
“It was five really, really exciting years. I couldn’t pick one specific moment. It was a rollercoaster,” he said.
Although he was a Liverpool hero during his playing career, Souness disappointed as manager at Anfield from 1991-94.
His perceived arrogance and doggedness – qualities that made him one of the club’s great midfielders – led to his downfall.
Souness would not change his style, though, as he showed with his final club Newcastle United.
In 2005, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer traded punches on the pitch but the hardest blow came from their manager – Souness.
“He wanted to fight them,” said former Newcastle defender Aaron Hughes. “Everyone else just sat there, stunned. `What´s just happened?´”
Souness had made headlines again.
“I reckon I don´t have the personality to be a manager in the modern game,” he said after stepping down from the Magpies job in 2006.
“You have to be more of a diplomat today than ever before, you have to massage egos today like you never had to before, and that wouldn´t be my style.”
As a pundit, Souness has not changed a bit. Ask Pogba. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)