Full name: Alan David Hansen
Date of birth: 13/06/1955
Alan Hansen is a Scottish former football player and BBC television football commentator. He is credited as being one of the most successful British footballers ever known and perhaps the greatest ever centre-half in the history of the game.
During a career spanning 14 years Alan Hansen collected over 17 football honours including seven Championships, two FA Cups, four League Cups, one Scottish First Division Cup and three European Cups. He is a member of the English Football Hall of Fame and was voted number 12 in the all time most favourite Liverpool players.
Alan was born in Alloa, Clackmannanshire, Scotland on June the 13th 1955. He was raised in a sporting family and under the guidance of his Danish father he played a number of competitive team sports including football and volleyball. As a young man Alan decided against attending Aberdeen University, instead opting to follow his brother John into professional football.
John Hansen played for Scottish First Division team Partick Thistle. In 1973 little brother Alan was admitted into the first team where he immediately began to make an impression. Hansen made a name for himself as a dependable defender, meanwhile his every move was being watched by bigger name football entities for a possible transfer.
In the 1975/76 season Hansen’s solid defending and accurate passing helped Partick Thistle win the Scottish First Division League Championship. This gave them admission to the Scottish premier League. During that season Alan wove his magic on the football field on some 35 occasions and his performance was duly noted.
Alan Hansen at Liverpool FC
Establishing a Reputation
The following year in 1977 Alan Hansen was transferred to Liverpool FC who met the bargain asking price of £110,000. His first game was against Derby County on the 24th September 1977 which Liverpool won 1-0.
Hansen scored his first goal for Liverpool almost a month later on the 19th October. It was a glorious day for Liverpool as they battered Germany’s Dynamo Dresden in a 5-1 win with Hansen scoring the first goal of the match. During that first season with Liverpool FC Hansen spent much of his time on the sidelines but managed to be on the field for the 1-0 European Cup win over Bruges FC played at Wembley.
As he established his reputation at Liverpool, Hansen was seen on the field more and more often for major games. Finally in 1978 he formed part of the award winning defence that conceded a mere 16 goals in 42 League games, a new record.
Club Success, International Woes
Hansen carved out his niche at Liverpool as a hard-nosed yet fluid football player who could be depended on to win the ball back from attackers and pass it on accurately. He had fantastic awareness of positioning and was a frequent play maker, especially form the back.
With characteristic speed and agility Hansen was even known to break ranks and join the forwards up-field should the chance become available. With Hansen playing regularly, Liverpool continued to dominate the English Premier League during the early 80s.
Hansen was out of action for the first part of the 1979/80 football season due to injury. When he returned he was on stunning form, scoring four goals in total including the only point against Brighton and Hove Albion during March.
Once more he was instrumental in maintaining Liverpool’s record breaking defensive posture, conceding only 30 goals and going on to win the League a record 12th time. Alan Hansen and Phil Thompson made a near unbeatable duo in central defence. It was due to their partnership, just beginning at this point, that Liverpool FC owed much of its defensive glory. 1979 was good year for Alan Hansen.
He earned his first two caps playing international football for Scotland against Wales in May and Argentina in June. It was not such a good year for Scotland however as they lost both games.
In 1981 Hansen was instrumental in winning Liverpool’s first League Cup. He was the player who scored the winning goal against West Ham in a 2-1 win for Liverpool. Later that year Liverpool took home the European Cup after beating Real Madrid 1-0.
1982 proved a low point for Hansen as an embarrassing collision with team mate Willie Miller gave Ramoz Shengelia the opening he needed to fire home a game clinching goal for the USSR. This defeat effectively scuppered Scotland’s chances at the World Cup in Spain that year as they didn’t manage to proceed beyond the qualifiers.
Indeed, Alan Hansen’s international performance is the single area of his footballing career where he failed to impress. This was partly due to bad luck and partly due to some controversial decisions to leave him out of the national squad.
A strong partnership between Willie Miller and Alex Dalgleish conspired to keep Hansen from being selected, as manager Alex Ferguson wanted to keep the pair together at international level. As a result Hansen was capped only 26 times, a number which by no means reflects his performance on the football field during an illustrious career.
The Tragedy at Hillsborough
In his autobiography, Alan Hansen: A Matter of Opinion, Alan alludes to 1989 as the most difficult time during his footballing career. On Saturday the 15th of April 1989 Hansen was back on the team following a nine month absence due to a knee injury.
Fears for his performance soon disappeared as Hansen blasted onto the field with three good passes in the early minutes of the game, including a play maker to Peter Beardsley who failed to capitalise, his shot on goal striking crossbar. Seconds later Hillsborough descended into a scene from hell as fans from the back of the stadium surged wildly forward crushing those in the front against the barriers.
A total of 95 people died that day and a 96th from his injuries a year later. Along with his team mates, Hansen was deeply affected by the disaster. To this day he continues to offer support to the families of victims through memorial services.
The following season Hansen continued to be troubled by his knee injury but managed to captain Liverpool to yet another league title. This was to be Alan’s eighth and final League title, which at the time was a record breaking figure. Alan continued to fight his injury but finally had to concede, retiring from a glorious career as Liverpool captain in 1991.
Hansen the Football Commentator
Soon after retirement from professional football, Hansen began commentating on the game for Sky Television. His witty commentary and incisive analysis, all delivered in a smooth central Scotland accent soon got him noticed by the BBC, who snapped him up for Radio 5 Live.
It wasn’t long before he was a regular on BBC Television’s live coverage of major matches. The indomitable Alan Hansen managed to carve out yet another niche as the de-facto commentator who was seldom wrong. He retains his unofficial title to this day.
Today Alan Hansen continues to commentate for BBC Sport. He lives with his wife Janet in Southport with whom he has two children, Lucy and Adam.