ROY EVANS believes Joe Fagan’s contribution to Liverpool over 27 years surpasses even that of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley.
The former Reds boss first met Fagan in the mid-1960s when he joined as an apprentice and a decade later Evans became part of the famous Anfield Bootroom.
Evans served alongside him on the coaching staff under Bob Paisley and was one of his most trusted allies during Fagan’s two years as boss.
“Joe Fagan, to me, is without doubt one of the most important figures in the history of Liverpool Football Club,” Evans said. “In fact I’d go further than that. He was the top man, the glue that held everything together during the most glory-laden period of Liverpool Football Club’s illustrious existence.
“When I say this I certainly don’t intend any disrespect to the memory and achievements of those other two renowned Anfield sages, Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley. Far from it. I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for what they achieved.
“But in my eyes Joe was the best. Respected like no other but given the least praise.
“When the legends of Liverpool are discussed it saddens me that his name is too often conspicuous by its absence.
“Then again, knowing Joe as I did, he wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s how he was: unassuming and as down to earth as they come, his only concern being the good of the club.
“What he did for the club should never be forgotten. Recognition for what he achieved is long overdue.”
Fagan, who died at the age of 80 in 2001, endured a sad end to his Reds career as he retired in the aftermath of Heysel.
“Life in the spotlight didn’t rest easy on his sturdy Scouse shoulders and for him to bow out in such tragic circumstances, just 12 months after the glory of Rome, was awful,” added Evans in the recently released biography ‘Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion’.
“He didn’t deserve that. Nobody did. Heysel cast a shadow over his retirement but it shouldn’t be allowed to cloud a truly outstanding career in football.
“From day one he became my mentor in football, a father figure I looked up to and I know many of the older lads felt exactly the same way about him.
“I learned so much from him. He was a massive influence not only on my football but my life in general.
“When he spoke you listened and his word was final.
"The cynics said he’d simply inherited the treble winning team from Bob Paisley. That he had the easiest job in football.
"What a load of rubbish. If anything, following in the footsteps of a man who had won 19 major trophies in nine years was an unwinnable task. It was typical of Joe that he answered his critics in the best possible fashion."