Tommy Lawrence: Tributes are paid to former Liverpool goalkeeper who died aged 77

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Archive: BBC reporter unwittingly meets Tommy Lawrence

Tributes have been paid to former Liverpool goalkeeper Tommy Lawrence, who has died aged 77.

The Scotsman, who won three caps for his country, was Bill Shankly's first-choice keeper during the 1960s.

He only missed four league matches in six seasons as the Reds won the First Division Championship twice and claimed the FA Cup for the first time.

Lawrence signed professionally for Liverpool in October 1957, a few months after his 17th birthday.

Ray Clemence, Roy Evans and Michael Owen are among those to have paid tribute to Lawrence.

Lawrence made 390 appearances for the Anfield club before making the switch to Tranmere Rovers in 1971, where he stayed for three years.

He was given the nickname 'The Flying Pig' because of his ability to dive around the penalty area despite weighing more than 14 stone.

Liverpool 1965 FA Cup team
Tommy Lawrence (back row, third from left) played in the 1965 FA Cup-winning side

Lawrence kept a clean sheet for 90 minutes in the FA Cup final against Leeds United in 1965, before Liverpool claimed their historic win in extra time thanks to goals from Roger Hunt and Ian St. John.

He returned to prominence, accidentally, in 2015 when a BBC reporter was asking people on the streets of Merseyside for their memories about the 1967 derby at Goodison Park.

Lawrence told Stuart Flinders: "I played in it... it was a great game, Alan Ball scored the winner."

Tributes for 'great guy' Lawrence

Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore was one of several high-profile football figures to pay tribute.

He tweeted: "A boyhood hero of mine. A great goalkeeper, a great member of the Liverpool family and a wonderful human being. He will be missed."

Former Reds boss Roy Evans, who was a player during Lawrence's time at the club, told the Liverpool website: "He actually worked it out for himself that if we were going to push further up the pitch and close people down. Tommy was alive and alert to that.

"He was a guy who was so humble and he didn't think of himself as better than anybody else. Tommy never thought about himself and he was just a really happy-go-lucky lad, and that's the way I will remember him.

"We will all miss him. I just hope people realise just what a great servant he was to Liverpool for many years and what a great guy he was."

Goalkeepers who played for the Anfield club and Merseyside rivals Everton also paid their respects.

Former England number one Ray Clemence said: "A gentleman who I had the privilege of training with. I learnt so much about being a sweeper-keeper from him."

And ex-Everton keeper Neville Southall tweeted: "RIP the brilliant goalkeeper. Tommy Lawrence."

Phil Thompson, who was a centre-back at Liverpool between 1971 and 1984, said Lawrence was one of his "heroes", adding: "You were a trailblazer for our club, a true gentleman."

And ex-Reds and England striker Michael Owen said Lawrence "was of the original Shankly greats".

Tweet from John Aldridge
Former Liverpool striker John Aldridge was one of the first to pay tribute to Lawrence

The first sweeper-keeper

BBC's chief football writer Phil McNulty

Tommy Lawrence was one of the Scottish cornerstones of Bill Shankly's great Liverpool side of the 1960s that established the platform and the template for the Anfield successes that followed.

Signed by Shankly's predecessor Phil Taylor, Lawrence was part of the great spine of Liverpool's side from north of the border along with captain Ron Yeats and striker Ian St John.

A bulky figure, he was still remarkably agile and reliable and was one of the first to operate as what is these days described as a "sweeper keeper."

Lawrence was one of the great characters of a golden era on Merseyside as Liverpool, led by the extrovert Shankly, battled for supremacy against Everton, led by the secretive, media-shy Harry Catterick.

The Scot helped Liverpool win the FA Cup against Leeds at Wembley and also two league titles, as well as losing a European Cup Winners' Cup Final to Borussia Dortmund at Hampden Park in 1966.

Lawrence played 390 times for Liverpool between 1962 and 1971 and remained unchallenged as Liverpool's first-choice keeper until the emergence of future great Ray Clemence.

He may have continued his career across the Mersey at Tranmere but this popular and humble man will always be best remembered as one of Liverpool's legendary figures.

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