Former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John has died at the age of 82.
St John, who began his career at Motherwell, made 425 appearances for the Reds and scored 118 goals as a key member of Bill Shankly’s famous side of the 1960s.
He played for Scotland 21 times and scored nine goals, including one against England at Wembley in 1965.
In a statement to Liverpool, the St John family 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.
“The family would be grateful for privacy at this extremely sad time.”
After retiring in 1973, St John went on to manage his hometown club Motherwell and also Portsmouth.
He would later front a Saturday lunchtime football preview show alongside Jimmy Greaves, Saint and Greavsie. St John was also a columnist for The Sunday Post.
We are deeply saddened by the passing of a true Anfield legend, Ian St John.
The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Ian's family and friends at this sad and difficult time.
Rest in peace, Ian St John 1938-2021.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 2, 2021
Liverpool said in a statement: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of a true Anfield legend, Ian St John.
“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Ian’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time. Rest in peace, Ian St John 1938-2021.”
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ian St John.
— Motherwell FC (@MotherwellFC) March 2, 2021
Motherwell tweeted: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ian St John. The thoughts of everyone are with his family at this difficult time.”
RIP Ian St John 💔another Liverpool Legend sadly passes away. One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today. I’ll remember him most on the best football show on tv, The Saint & Greavsie. X pic.twitter.com/E1VSJsUoZs
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) March 2, 2021
Diminutive Scot who became one of Liverpool’s all-time greats
By PA Sport
He may have been just 5ft 7ins tall but what Ian St John lacked in size he made up for in stature.
The feisty Scot, who has died at the age of 82, was one of the key components of Bill Shankly’s Liverpool revolution and will be forever remembered for his winning goal which brought the Reds their first FA Cup in 1965.
It may have been a significant contribution to the club’s history but it was far from the only one he was to make during 425 appearances for the Reds in which he scored 118 goals.
St John was signed for a club record £37,500 from Motherwell in May 1961, just 18 months into Shankly’s Anfield reign.
The expense was questioned by the board, to which Shankly reportedly replied: “We can’t afford not to buy him.”
Not that Shankly’s faith needed justifying but St John scored a hat-trick on his debut in the 4-3 Liverpool Senior Cup defeat against Everton at Goodison Park.
It was just a taster of the quality he would bring to the side, with the other element to his game, the combative nature, manifesting itself soon after when he was sent off during an end-of-season tour to Czechoslovakia.
But St John was more about passion than malice – “I had a quick temper, which was a bad thing. The fact I wasn’t frightened of anybody was a good thing” – and that instantly won him an army of followers.
His partnership with Roger Hunt saw Liverpool gain promotion to the top flight a year after his arrival. He scored 18, 19 and 21 goals in his first three seasons – the latter the highest single-season contribution of his Reds career, as the club won the First Division championship for the first time in 17 years.
St John’s defining moment came 12 months later when, belying his diminutive size, he twisted acrobatically in the air to head Willie Stevenson’s cross past Leeds goalkeeper Gary Sprake to secure a 2-1 extra-time FA Cup final win.
That one feat of athleticism enshrined the name of St John in Liverpool’s history books and, although he went on to win another league title and subsequently played for Coventry and Tranmere and managed Motherwell and Portsmouth, as well as winning 21 Scotland caps, it was after his football career ended that he became even more famous to a new generation.
His Saturday lunchtime show, ‘Saint and Greavsie’, alongside Jimmy Greaves, was beamed into millions of British households from 1985 and enjoyed a seven-year run as television’s premier football preview show at a time when such a thing was unheard of.
Its mix of football chat and humour was the blueprint for shows such as Soccer AM and Frank Skinner and David Baddiel’s Fantasy Football League.
Following the show’s demise after ITV lost the rights to show Premier League football, St John maintained a media presence on local Merseyside radio.
It was only a diagnosis of bladder cancer in 2014, which subsequently spread to his prostate, which curtailed his appearances.
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