If you could pick a Scotland team made up solely of players who had worn the red of Liverpool or the royal blue of Everton, who would make the cut?
It’s the kind of dream team debate which would give any armchair manager selection headaches, as stellar names like Sharp, Dalglish, Souness and Young vie for places in the starting XI.
All four make the cut in the ECHO’s Mersey Scotland XI, which follows a day on from when we picked an England XI made up of Liverpool and Everton greats.
There were some tough selection calls to make, some big-name omissions, and we know not all of you will agree with us – we’re just getting the debate started as an appetiser for this evening’s Scotland v England clash at Celtic Park.
So feel free to tweet your best combined LFC/EFC Scotland teams to @LivEchoLFC or @LivEchoEFC and we’ll publish them on our Liverpool and Everton liveblogs.
Here is our Mersey Scotland XI…
In goal: Tommy Lawrence
The man affectionately known as the Flying Pig – for the way he would throw his 14-stone frame around a muddy penalty area – had an international career which spanned six years in the 1960s. Unfortunately, Ayreshire-born Lawrence won only three caps in that time. Spurs’ Bill Brown was Scotland’s No1 for much of the Liverpool keeper’s prime years but Lawrence’s cult status with the Reds – winning two league titles and an FA Cup in a 14-year stay at Anfield – sees him handed the gloves for our Scots dream team, ahead of Everton’s George Wood (back-up keeper to Jim Leighton at the 1982 World Cup).
Right-back: David Weir
It wouldn’t be a Scotland XI without a player known as ‘Davey’, would it?
The nation’s sixth most-capped player slots in at right-back, a position he was capable of filling when shifted from his preferred position in the centre of defence. Weir – capped 69 times – was a mobile and efficient defender, a first-team regular during an eight-year Goodison career which saw him taste European football and wear the skipper’s armband under two different managers (Walter Smith and David Moyes).
Left-back: Steve Nicol
Another versatile player, Nicol could probably slot in anywhere and do a solid job for club and country. Whether it be at full-back (on either flank), centre-back or midfield, Nicol (who won 29 caps) was willing and more-than-able in any position on the pitch – and his finishing would put some strikers to shame. We’re asking the 1984 European Cup winner to play left-back – as the competition for places further forward is pretty intense.
Centre-backs: Alan Hansen & Richard Gough
There’s a silk/steel mix to our pairing at the heart of defence, with the stylish Hansen partnering the teak-tough Gough.
Although he struggled to transfer his club form on to the international stage, Hansen makes the cut by virtue of the fact he is one of the most decorated and celebrated centre-halves in Liverpool history. The Miller-McLeish defensive axis – forged at Aberdeen and carried into the national team – restricted Hansen to 26 caps and saw him controversially overlooked for the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexico.
A 24-year-old Gough has in Scotland’s ‘86 squad, but it would be another 13 years before he wound up on Merseyside, signing for Everton in the twilight of his career. Gough, capped 61 times, had retired from international football by the time he joined the Blues – but we’ve bent our rules slightly to allow him into the side, keeping a red/blue balance across the back four.
Ron Yeats – Shankly’s Anfield colossus – might have been a giant for his club, but claimed only two Scotland caps, so the big man, regrettably, misses out here.
Midfield: Graeme Souness, Bobby Collins, Billy Liddell
Our three-man midfield is bursting with talent, goals and a large dose of Scottish grit.
Souness (54 caps) adds plenty of bite, but along with the crunching tackles he was a player who could run a game, a midfield general for both Liverpool and Scotland.
Collins might have been only 5ft 3in, but he was a giant of the Scottish game in the 50s and 60s, scoring 10 goals in 31 appearances for his country. Paying tribute to Collins following the midfielder’s death in January, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright said he was “pivotal and inspirational” to the club’s success. Collins is also a legend at Celtic and Leeds.
Operating in more of an attacking midfield role is Liddell, who played as a winger during the early years of his Reds career before being pushed up front. The stats speak for themselves – 228 goals in 534 LFC appearances and eight goals in 29 Scotland caps – but Liddell was about more than just facts and figures. He was one-club man who the fans took to their hearts.
Up front: Graeme Sharp, Kenny Dalglish, Alex Young
“He is one of the best players I have ever seen and one of the best players in the history of football.”
So said Franz Beckenbauer of Kenny Dalglish, and who are we to argue? He won 102 caps – a national record – and scored 30 goals, joint-level with Denis Law.
Dalglish is an automatic pick and forms forms a three-pronged attack with Goodison icons from the 1960s and 1980s, Young and Sharp.
Young, the Golden Vision, was one of the most graceful players to wear the royal blue shirt, a pivotal figure in the 1962-63 title win and an FA Cup winner in 1966. He bagged five goals in eight appearances for Scotland.
Sharp found the net just once in 12 caps, but was more prolific at club level, the spearhead of Howard Kendall’s fine mid-80s side, second only in the Everton scoring charts to Dixie Dean with 159 goals in 426 games.
Competition for places up front was so fierce that not even Ian St John or Big Dunc could make it into our side.