Ray Kennedy obituary | Soccer

The footballer Ray Kennedy, who has died aged 70, spent eight years with Liverpool on the peak of the membership’s powers within the late Seventies and early 80s. Having arrived at Anfield in 1974 from Arsenal, the place he had been a part of the FA Cup and league double profitable facet of 1971, he went on to assert a hatful of additional honours on Merseyside, profitable three European Cups and 5 First Division league titles beneath the supervisor Bob Paisley, who regarded him as “one among Liverpool’s best gamers and possibly probably the most underrated”.

Revered at each golf equipment, Kennedy was a robust left-sided midfielder with great imaginative and prescient and anticipation, allied to an unusually good first contact and a knack for scoring targets. He received each home trophy on supply and nonetheless has one of many highest hauls of medals of any English participant, though he received solely 17 worldwide caps, a circumstance finest defined by the presence of West Ham’s Trevor Brooking, who proved to be extra common with England managers.

Kennedy was finest identified in later years for his dedication to spreading consciousness of Parkinson’s illness, a situation he was recognized with shortly after his taking part in profession ended. As a high-profile public face of the Parkinson’s Illness Society (now Parkinson’s UK), he co-wrote a revealing autobiography, Ray of Hope (1993), with Andrew Lees, a neurologist who had helped to deal with him.

Ray Kennedy unleashing a powerful shot during an England v Switzerland match at Wembley in 1977.
Ray Kennedy unleashing a robust shot throughout an England v Switzerland match at Wembley in 1977. {Photograph}: Roger Jackson/Getty Photographs

Born within the Northumberland pit village of Seaton Delaval, Kennedy was the eldest of the 4 youngsters of Martin, a coalminer, and Veronica, a housewife. In his early teenagers he was noticed by Fourth Division Port Vale, whose supervisor, Stanley Matthews, got here to the household dwelling to steer him to signal schoolboy types. As soon as Kennedy was settled on the membership, nonetheless, Matthews’ enthusiasm started to wane, and on the age of 16 he let the teenager go, believing him to be too gradual.

Shifting again to Northumberland, Kennedy labored in a candy manufacturing facility whereas taking part in as a centre-forward for the novice facet New Hartley Juniors, the place he caught the attention of Arsenal, who signed him up in 1968 and gave him his debut as a 19-year-old the next yr.

By 1970 he had turn out to be extra of an everyday within the facet, and he performed a useful position in Arsenal’s run to turn out to be winners of the Inter Cities Gala’s Cup (forerunner of the Uefa Cup), scoring an important away objective in its place within the first leg of the ultimate in opposition to Anderlecht.

Having collected his first winners’ medal, the next season it was his commanding header that clinched the 1970-71 First Division title within the ultimate match of the season in opposition to Tottenham. He was additionally to the fore (though he missed some good possibilities) in that season’s FA Cup ultimate in opposition to Liverpool, which Arsenal received 2-1 to finish the double.

Ray Kennedy appearing for Arsenal in 1972.
Ray Kennedy showing for Arsenal in 1972. {Photograph}: Colorsport/Rex/Shutterstock

He was the membership’s high scorer that season, in addition to in 1971-72 and 1973-74, however finally fell foul of their supervisor Bertie Mee’s sustained refashioning of his double profitable facet when Brian Kidd was introduced in to interchange him as a striker. Surplus to necessities, he was signed by the Liverpool supervisor Invoice Shankly for a price of £200,000 – then a membership report – in the summertime of 1974.

A lot to his consternation, Kennedy arrived at Anfield on the very day that Shankly resigned from his job, to get replaced by Paisley. But it surely was the brand new supervisor who made the impressed choice, in late 1975, to maneuver Kennedy to a everlasting berth in left midfield, and in that place he discovered a brand new lease of life, changing into extra of a playmaker whereas persevering with to supply helpful targets.

Kennedy’s second season at Liverpool, 1975-76, ended with a First Division title and a Uefa Cup ultimate win in opposition to Membership Brugge wherein he scored the primary objective within the first leg. Over the following 5 campaigns he missed solely 5 league matches as his facet went on to win three extra league titles in 1977, 1979 and 1980.

He additionally performed in three European Cup finals as Liverpool received in 1977, 1978 and 1981, making a very robust affect within the run-up to the ultimate in 1981, throughout which he scored a decisive away objective as his facet beat Bayern Munich within the semis.

All Kennedy’s worldwide caps got here at Liverpool, starting with a debut in opposition to Wales in 1976 and ending in 1980 with appearances in two of England’s three video games as they had been knocked out on the group stage of the European Championship finals in Italy. His ultimate First Division championship title got here in 1981-82, when he was transferred halfway by way of the season to John Toshack’s Swansea Metropolis, who had been additionally within the high flight, however had performed sufficient video games for Liverpool within the first half of their marketing campaign to qualify for a medal.

Ray Kennedy in 2009. He was formally diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984 and became a high-profile public face of the Parkinson’s Disease Society (now Parkinson’s UK).
Ray Kennedy in 2009. He was formally recognized with Parkinson’s illness in 1984 and have become a high-profile public face of the Parkinson’s Illness Society (now Parkinson’s UK). {Photograph}: Ian Hodgson/ANL/Rex/Shutterstock

By then indicators of Parkinson’s had been starting to manifest themselves on the pitch, though Kennedy had no thought on the time what the issue was. After a troublesome yr at Swansea he moved to Fourth Division Hartlepool United, adopted by a brief stint as player-manager of Pezoporikos in Cyprus in 1984-85 and a few non-league soccer in Northumberland at Ashington.

When he was formally recognized in late 1984, Kennedy was lastly in a position to account for a number of the bodily difficulties he had quietly seen even again in his days at Arsenal, the place he generally had bother doing up shirt buttons and sometimes suffered from extreme post-match fatigue.

After retiring as a participant he turned landlord of the Melton Constable pub in Whitley Bay in Tyne and Put on, and did some teaching at Sunderland. However he misplaced the pub licence in 1987 and his 15-year marriage to Jennifer got here to an finish. A protracted, darkish interval adopted wherein he struggled with sickness and the negative effects of medicine, whereas additionally changing into more and more hard-up and remoted.

Helped financially on events by the Professional Footballers Association, he benefited from a testimonial match between Liverpool and Arsenal, staged for him in 1991. However in 1993 he was compelled to promote his medals and England caps to boost additional cash for care.

One of many brighter elements of Kennedy’s later life, nonetheless, was his involvement with the Parkinson’s Illness Society, which, amongst different issues, allowed him to strike up a relationship together with his childhood hero and fellow Parkinson’s sufferer Muhammad Ali.

He had three youngsters, Cara, Dale and Alannah.

Raymond Kennedy, footballer, born 28 July 1951; died 30 November 2021

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