'Deeply saddened': World mourns death of football great Ray Kennedy

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Pictured here, Ray Kennedy during his playing days for Liverpool.
Ray Kennedy is being remembered as a legend of English football. Pic: Twitter

The football world is busy paying its respects to the memory of Ray Kennedy, the Liverpool and Arsenal legend who sadly passed away at the age of 70 after a long health battle.

Kennedy's glittering career in English football was littered with trophies, including six league titles and three European Cups during his spells with the Gunners and the Reds.

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Iconic Liverpool manager Bob Paisley wrote in his autobiography that Kennedy was "one of Liverpool's greatest players and probably the most underrated."

He left Anfield in 1982 and spells at Swansea and Hartlepool followed, but his body was already in the grip of the crippling disease which was affecting his mobility.

Kennedy was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1984 and lived with the condition for decades in a testament to the strength of his character.

A testimonial game between Liverpool and Arsenal was held in his honour in 1991.

Later that year he sold his medals and 17 England caps to help raise funds for his care.

As a player he was blessed with the vision to see things before others, but that was taken to the extreme when he told the doctor treating him following his diagnosis that as a youngster he had foreseen his own future.

"He said to me once that as a child he had a recurring dream that his life would be short but glorious because something round the corner would come and scupper him early on," recalled Andrew Lees, medical adviser to the Parkinson's Disease Society and co-writer of his autobiography.

His former clubs and the England team expressed their condolences, and so did former team-mates.

Phil Thompson tweeted: "More sad news with the passing of Ray, what a great player and such a wonderful team-mate RIP pal YNWA."

Fellow Liverpool midfielder Ronnie Whelan described Kennedy as "an absolute legend at both Arsenal and Liverpool", adding on Twitter: "Learned so much by watching him play. RIP Ray."

A career which began with him being rejected as a youngster by Sir Stanley Matthews at Port Vale culminated in three European Cups, a glittering testament to his determination to overcome setbacks.

Jettisoned by Matthews for being too slow, Kennedy returned to his Northumberland roots to work in a sweet factory and play for amateur side New Hartley Juniors.

A brilliant goal-scoring year brought him to the attention of Arsenal scouts, actually there to watch his strike partner, and within six months of arriving in London he had secured his first professional contract and made his first-team debut aged just 18.

His appearance off the bench in the first leg of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final with the Gunners 3-0 down against Anderlecht saw Kennedy give his side a lifeline with a goal within eight minutes. A 3-0 win in the return leg saw him collect his first winners' medal.

A year later he clinched a league and FA Cup double within the space of five days, heading the goal which clinched the title.

Kennedy's arrival at Anfield on July 12, 1974 was completely overshadowed by the shock news that day that Bill Shankly, the man who had signed him from Arsenal, had stepped down.

Pictured right, Ray Kennedy helps raise one of the European Cups he won with Liverpool.
Ray Kennedy (right) won three European Cups during a glittering career at Liverpool. Pic: Getty

But that major change did him no harm as, having struggled up front, midway through his second season Bob Paisley switched him to a left-sided role and he never looked back, winning five league titles, three European Cups, the UEFA Cup and League Cup.

His personal highlight was his pivotal away goal in the 1981 European Cup semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.

A year later he clinched a league and FA Cup double within the space of five days, heading the goal which clinched the title.

Kennedy's arrival at Anfield on July 12, 1974 was completely overshadowed by the shock news that day that Bill Shankly, the man who had signed him from Arsenal, had stepped down.

But that major change did him no harm as, having struggled up front, midway through his second season Paisley switched him to a left-sided role and he never looked back, winning five league titles, three European Cups, the UEFA Cup and League Cup.

His personal highlight was his pivotal away goal in the 1981 European Cup semi-final second leg against Bayern Munich.

with agencies

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