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From Skegness to Rome, Ray Clemence rose to become Liverpool's greatest keeper

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The word legend is often overused in football these days, perhaps inevitably when it comes to a club with as rich and varied a heritage as Liverpool’s.

Yes, the bare facts of his playing career without doubt speak for themselves: five league championships, three European Cups, two Uefa Cups, the FA Cup and the League Cup over 665 first-team appearances which put him behind only Ian Callaghan, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard in the all-time Liverpool list.

Clemence himself said arguably the most important save of his career, if not technically the best, was the one he made from Uli Stielike at the pivotal point midway through the second half of Liverpool's semi-final 1977 European Cup final win over Borussia Moenchengladbach in Rome, when the Reds were suddenly rocking having been pegged back to 1-1 before going on to lift the trophy and become champions of Europe for the first time.

Despite trailing to a 40-yard Glenn Hoddle wondergoal at the break and Liverpool needing to beat their former hero at least twice in the second half, the Kop - and indeed the whole ground - gave Clemence one of the greatest ovations Anfield has ever seen.

Liverpool's telegram address back when that was a key method of communication was 'goalkeeper' which shows the affinity the club has always felt for that most unique of positions.

It could not be more appropriate though when it comes to Ray Clemence, who was rightly elevated to the highest of pedestals in the Anfield pantheon, and not just for his outstanding achievements as a goalkeeper.

While the Reds have had some fine custodians both before and after Clemence, the unassuming former deckchair-attendant from Skegness will always be the one the rest have to try and emulate.
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