Liverpool’s longest serving player has left the club….and it might not be who you were expecting.
Leighton Clark is only 21 years old, and yet he’s been with the Reds since the age of just six through the various junior and academy levels.
He will depart Anfield for Aberdeen after a successful loan spell with the Scottish side, bringing the curtain down on the unlikeliest of longest serving spells.
It means that the mantle is passed to Jordan Henderson, who has just passed the 12-year mark at the club having joined from Sunderland in the summer of 2011.
It will still take Hendo more than two years to join the ranks of Liverpool’s ten longest-serving players, but who makes up the top five?
#5 – Ephraim Longworth (17 years, 215 days)
Liverpool historians will know that the club’s first period of dominance in English football came back in the early 1900s.
The Reds won back-to-back league titles in 1922-23, and part of that side was Ephraim Longworth, who would rack up the best part of 18 years at Liverpool – a spell broken up early on by World War I.
All told, Longworth made 341 appearances for the club and became Liverpool’s first ever England captain, playing on at Anfield until his 40th birthday.
#4 – Phil Taylor (17 years, 287 days)
With 17 years as a player and a further three as manager, Phil Taylor’s place in Liverpool’s history is secure.
Originally an attacking player, Taylor was moulded into a defender by legendary Reds boss George Kay, and that would prove the catalyst for a career in which he made 345 appearances for Liverpool and represented England too.
As a player, Taylor was part of the title-winning team of 1947, and while his spell as a manager was less successful, he was replaced in the dugout by Bill Shankly – the rest, as they say, is history.
#3 – Ian Callaghan (17 years, 347 days)
Ian Callaghan was less than a fortnight away from completing 18 years of service at Anfield.
It’s an astonishing achievement, and one heightened by the knowledge that nobody has made more appearances for Liverpool in history – Callaghan pulled on the red shirt an incredible 857 times.
In that timeframe, Callaghan was part of one of the most successful spells in the club’s history, which yielded six league titles, two European Cups and a pair of FA Cups into the bargain.
Although he suffered the heartache of not being handed a winner’s medal despite being part of England’s 1966 World Cup squad, Callaghan could at least enjoy the knowledge he will forever be remembered as one of Liverpool’s greatest players.
#2 – Donald McKinlay (18 years, 134 days)
Another legend from the black-and-white error was Donald McKinlay, who formed part of that double title-winning team alongside Ephraim.
He made 434 appearances for Liverpool all told, captaining the club for six years – the first two of those yielding that pair of First Division titles.
The Scotsman can be regarded as one of the most successful skippers in Liverpool history then, certainly in those early days, and he would later show those leadership qualities again when he ran a pub in the city at the end of his playing days!
#1 – Elisha Scott (21 years, 51 days)
In the modern era, it would be almost impossible to imagine a player turning out for the same club for more than 21 years.
But in the early 1900s, things were a lot different and goalkeepers in particular were able to enjoy long careers.
Elisha Scott joined Liverpool in 1912 and stay until 1934, with his stint at Anfield only broken for one year by a return to Linfield in his native Northern Ireland.
Scott, who played in goal during Liverpool’s two title wins in the 1920s, was considered to be one of the finest shot stoppers of his generation – and something of a character too. When he bumped into Everton striker Dixie Dean in a bar in Northern Ireland, it’s said that Dean tipped his hat in deference to Scott….who then preceded to dive onto the floor as if saving a header.
He would go on to become of the most successful managers in Irish club football, but it’s his accolade as the longest-serving player in Liverpool history that will perhaps live longer in the memory.