Footballing legend Graeme Souness shoots from the lip to score with students
A former Scottish international footballer and top-flight manager took centre stage at a school in Hampstead.
Former tough-tackling Liverpool and Rangers midfielder Graeme Souness appeared confident and relaxed as he took on a relentless onslaught of questions by football-mad teenage boys at University College Senior School in Frognal.
The Sky Sports TV pundit, who also works as a presenter for Al Jazeera, was invited to the school by a friend of a parent.
He gave a frank no-holds-barred overview of his career from his time at Middlesbrough in 1972, where he admitted he had been a difficult player, to his stint as a manager at Newcastle United, which he said had been hard because of “expectations”.
During the question and answer session last Friday in a hall packed with pupils and staff, photographs relating to his career were projected onto a screen behind him.
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Mr Souness, who lives in Dorset, recalled Brazilian player Zico as being the toughest opponent he faced, and said he was an even better player than Diego Maradona, often considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time.
When asked who was the best player he had fouled, Mr Souness cheekily confessed: “I can’t think of anyone I did not get to, except Zico.”
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He said playing at Rangers Football Club in Glasgow – the team he supported as a boy – and playing at Liverpool were his career highlights.
At Liverpool he won five League Championships, three European Cups and four League Cups.
His playing career ended in 1986 and he took up a position to manage Rangers.
He recounted how he was protected by Special Branch police after he received death threats for his controversial signing of high-profile Catholic player Mo Johnston while Rangers’ boss.
The club has traditionally always been supported by Protestants.
He described Rangers’ current situation – the club has been in administration since February – as a “shambles” and added: “I think it’s a real warning to any big club.”
Mr Souness managed eight different clubs, including Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, and Turkish team Galatasaray, until he retired in 2006.
He admitted he would not consider going back to football management because he did not have the “temperament” for it.
“I was a real bad loser,” he admits. “The frustration I felt was incredible.
“Old school managers like Ars�ne Wenger have evolved. I haven’t.”
Despite going into extra time to answer as many questions as possible, the football legend was surrounded by a gaggle of students when he wrapped up the session.