Paul Walsh

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Paul Walsh
Paul Walsh.JPG
Personal information
Full name Paul Anthony Walsh
Date of birth (1962-10-01) 1 October 1962 (age 51)
Place of birth Plumstead, England
Playing position Forward
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1979–1982 Charlton Athletic 87 (24)
1982–1984 Luton Town 80 (24)
1984–1988 Liverpool 77 (25)
1988–1992 Tottenham Hotspur 128 (19)
1991 Queens Park Rangers (loan) 2 (0)
1992–1994 Portsmouth 73 (14)
1994–1995 Manchester City 53 (16)
1995–1996 Portsmouth 21 (5)
Total 521 (127)
National team
1982–1984 England U-21 7 (4)
1983–1984 England 5 (1)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

Paul Anthony Walsh (born 1 October 1962 in Plumstead, London) is an English former professional footballer and sports television pundit.

As a player he was a diminutive and pacy centre forward who played from 1979 to 1996 and shot to fame in the 1980s during spells with Charlton Athletic, Luton Town, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. He also went on to play for Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City and Portsmouth. He was capped 5 times by England scoring 1 goal.

Playing career[edit]

Charlton Athletic[edit]

Walsh began his career at Charlton where he quickly established himself in the team, he made his debut as a 16 year-old substitute in a Second Division fixture with Shrewsbury Town during the 1979–80 season and went on to appear in nine league games as Charlton failed to hold to their Second Division status. Walsh was given a chance in Division Three and struck up a brilliant front line with Addicks great Derek Hales. Walsh notably scored a hat-trick against Brentford, Charlton won the League Cup tie 5–0. Charlton went on to gain promotion as well as reach the 5th round of the FA Cup. Walsh enjoyed himself in the higher division bagging a respectable 13 goals as the Addicks finished mid table.

Luton Town[edit]

Still only a 19 year-old and after just 87 league appearances Luton signed Walsh for £400,000 on 26 July 1982. Luton had just gained promotion to English football's top flight and were hoping that Walsh's ability to make something out of nothing would help them stay there. He was an immediate hit as Luton scored goals seemingly at will, winning 5–0 and 5–3 in their first two home games, with Walsh himself scoring an impressive hat-trick in the 5–3 victory over Notts County, and drawing 4–4 away at Stoke City.

Luton then secured a highly creditable 3–3 draw away to Liverpool, with Walsh setting up the first goal for Brian Stein after turning Liverpool and Éire defender Mark Lawrenson inside out. Although free-scoring, Luton struggled to contain the quality of the First Division attacks but they managed to survive the drop by winning their final game of the season against Manchester City at Maine Road. His impish, natural predatory instincts around the penalty area earned him the first of five caps for England and in 1983, Bobby Robson gave Walsh his debut on 12 June in a friendly with Australia at Sydney, the first of the three match tour ended in a 0–0 draw, Walsh scored his only goal for his country in the following match against the Aussies, the match was played in Brisbane on 16 June and Walsh's goal was the only goal of the game. Walsh's performances and ability were recognised by his fellow professionals as he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 1984. That year he also helped England win the 1984 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship.

Liverpool[edit]

Unsurprisingly given his impressive performance at Anfield, he was purchased by Joe Fagan for Liverpool on 21 May 1984 for £700,000. He made his debut on 18 August 1984 in the 1–0 Charity Shield defeat to derby rivals Everton. With Ian Rush injured at the start of his first season, Walsh was expected to slot in alongside Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish straight away, which he did with aplomb, skill and trickery, leading the line with confidence. It didn't take him long to open his goal scoring account either, it came mere seconds into his third game for the Reds, his Anfield debut, against West Ham United on 27 August; the Reds went on to win 3–0.

He scored the equaliser for Liverpool against Manchester United in the league on 22 September, but with Rush's return to fitness soon afterwards, Walsh did not score in the league again until 20 April, in a 3–1 home win over Newcastle United. On 6 May, he scored both of Liverpool's goals in their 2–0 win at Coventry City, and managed another brace in the season's penultimate game, a 3–0 win at West Ham United. He managed a last minute equaliser in extra time against Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final that season, though Liverpool lost the replay 2–1 to their great north west rivals.[1]

Despite playing alongside Dalglish as a stand-in for Rush, Walsh had been signed for the Reds as a possible eventual long-term successor to Dalglish, who was now 33 and became player-manager after Fagan's retirement at the end of the 1984–85 season.

As Liverpool's campaign to defend the European Cup gathered pace, Walsh scored crucial goals in the latter stages of the competition, including two in the quarter-finals against Austria Vienna, missing out on a hat-trick when the opposing goalkeeper Friedrich Koncilia saved his penalty. Liverpool made the final and Walsh was selected by manager Joe Fagan to start the game, but the Heysel Stadium disaster put his joy into perspective, and Liverpool ultimately lost the match.

Walsh was cursed with poor luck the following season, suffering niggling injuries and thereby necessitating Dalglish's appearance in the side more than the new player-manager would have possibly preferred. An ankle injury suffered in February 1986 put paid to Walsh's season as Liverpool won the League championship and FA Cup "double". Walsh played enough games for a title medal but missed the FA Cup final victory over fierce Merseyside rivals Everton.

Dalglish scaled down his playing career the following year, and Walsh got more of a look-in after recovering from another injury which had ruled him out of the opening dozen games. He played in the 1987 League Cup Final but Liverpool lost 2–1 to Arsenal and Walsh was dropped afterwards following the arrival of John Aldridge and then Peter Beardsley. Earlier in the 1986-87 season, Walsh had scored a hat-trick in a 6-2 home win over a Norwich City side who had just returned to the First Division following for promotion but were already looking like title contenders and ultimately finished fifth.[2]

A trophyless season meant that Dalglish spent big on new players to revive Liverpool's fortunes and Walsh suffered as a result as John Aldridge was bought to replace Rush as the natural finisher of the team with Peter Beardsley coming in at huge expense to provide the craft. This new strike partnership was an instant success as Liverpool went unbeaten for a record-equalling first 29 games of the season while Walsh, having unwisely questioned Dalglish's offer of a role in midfield, was relegated to a few cursory appearances as a substitute. Whilst Liverpool waltzed to the League title Walsh was on the move having not made enough appearances to qualify for a medal.

His days at Anfield were up. Ironically, Kenny Dalglish was still registered as a player (though he only played four competitives games after the 1986–87 season before he finally retired in August 1990) at Anfield when Walsh (the player who had been signed with a view to being his eventual long-term successor) was on his way out of the club.

Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

After 112 games and 37 goals, a goal every 3.03 games for Liverpool, Walsh joined Tottenham for half a million pounds on 16 February 1988, beginning a spell of productive but short-lived spells at a number of different clubs. Walsh made his league debut seven days later on 23 February in the 1–1 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford. After forming a productive partnership with Paul Stewart, Walsh helped Spurs to a respectable sixth place, however, he suffered the following season as the White Hart Lane club brought Gary Lineker back to England from Spain. Walsh made way for Lineker, making most of his 25 appearances from the bench as Spurs finished third. He did enjoy one particular game that season however, when he opened the scoring in the North London derby win over Arsenal at home. His only medal at Spurs came when they won the FA Cup in 1991, coming on as a substitute at Wembley.

Walsh spent one more season at Spurs, helping them to the semi-final of the League Cup where they lost to Nottingham Forest. The addition of Gordon Durie to the squad made it increasingly difficult for Walsh to gain a starting role; he also played twice on loan at Queens Park Rangers, and when Spurs showed an interest in Darren Anderton Walsh was used as a bargaining tool.

Portsmouth (first spell)[edit]

Walsh had played 158 times for Spurs, scoring 21 goals, before he moved to the South Coast in a deal worth around £400,000 on the 3 June 1992. Walsh was the makeweight in a "plus cash" player exchange for Darren Anderton. Walsh made his Pompey debut on 15 August 1992 in the 3–3 league draw with Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium.

It didn't take Walsh long to became a cult hero at Portsmouth. In the 1992–93 season, Portsmouth placed third in the First Division, and missed out on automatic promotion to the Premier League on goal difference to West Ham United. Guy Whittingham broke goalscoring records for Portsmouth, who were the strongest side in the division in the second half of the season following a lukewarm start. Despite Whittingham's goalscoring exploits, the Pompey fans voted Walsh their player of the year, recognising that it was his guile and craft that made the Portsmouth attack so effective. Whittingham was sold to Aston Villa in the summer of 1993, and Walsh subsequently formed a solid partnership with another former Liverpool player, John Durnin, but the potency of the Portsmouth side had faded. However, it was in the post-Whittingham era that Walsh had what was arguably his best game in the blue of Portsmouth, on 12 January 1994 in a Coca-Cola Cup fifth round tie against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Going into the game as huge underdogs, Portsmouth shocked the Premier League champions by earning a replay at Fratton Park with a 2–2 draw. Walsh had a fantastic game and scored both goals, and United were lucky to survive a late penalty appeal. Unfortunately for Portsmouth fans, United won the replay at Fratton Park by a goal to nil.

After 73 league appearances for Portsmouth, Walsh was on the move once more, much to the distress of the Portsmouth fans.

Manchester City[edit]

Walsh's career took him to Manchester City, when Brian Horton paid Portsmouth £750,000 for the striker's services on 10 March 1994. He made his City bow two days later on 12 March, in the 1–0 league defeat to Wimbledon at Maine Road. He scored six times in the remaining ten fixtures, helping push City away from the relegation zone and up into a safe 16th position in the table, forming an exciting partnership with fellow City newcomer Uwe Rösler. He began the following campaign in stunning form, scoring twice in games against Southampton, Everton and his former club Spurs. City failed to maintain their good start to the season, however, and finished the campaign in 17th position. However, Walsh had endeared himself to the City faithful, who appreciated his energetic, all-action performances. The famous Spurs match in particular demonstrated Walsh's skill, tenacity and determination, orchestrating the destruction of Spurs in an unforgettable afternoon.

When new manager Alan Ball sold Walsh back to Portsmouth for £500,000 in exchange for Gerry Creaney in September 1995, fans were shocked and questioned the deal, just as the Portsmouth fans had when he was sold to City the previous year.[3]

Portsmouth (second spell)[edit]

Walsh managed 21 more league appearances before suffering a cruciate ligament injury to the knee in 1996 which brought his career to an end.

International career[edit]

During his final 12 months as a Luton Town player, Walsh was selected for the senior England team five times. He was first capped on 12 June 1983 in a 0-0 friendly draw against Australia, where England were taking part in a three-match tour. He found the net against the Australians in the following match. The last of his five senior appearances for England came on 2 May 1984 in a 1-0 Home Championship defeat to Wales.[4]

Media career[edit]

After ending his career, Walsh has worked in the media, providing studio-based match analysis for both ITV and Sky Sports appearing regularly on Soccer Saturday and Football First.

Walsh appears regularly for the Liverpool veterans side who have dominated the Sky Sports Masters series in recent years, usually linking up with former Portsmouth teammate John Durnin.

Walsh has since taken his coaching badges. He has stated that he is currently happy in his pundit role on Sky Sports' Soccer Saturday. He has admitted several times he was an Arsenal fan as a child.

Career Honours[edit]

Honours As Player[edit]

England Liverpool[edit]

Winner

Runner Up

England Tottenham Hotspur[edit]

Winner

References[edit]

External links[edit]