It’s a dog’s life for Liverpool FC legend

A record-breaking Liverpool football legend was the top dog at a care home.

Ian Callaghan MBE, 71, was one of the judges at a dog show at the Bodlondeb care home at Pendine Park in Wrexham.

The former England international, who made a record 857 appearances for Liverpool FC,  regularly visits Bodlondeb to see a close friend.

Right-winger Ian played under the iconic Liverpool manager Bill Shankly who transformed the club from being Second Division no hopers into champions in the 60s and 70s.

A Liverpool supporter as a child, Ian joined the club as an apprentice in 1960 and made his debut on 16 April in a 4–0 win against  Bristol Rovers at Anfield.

Ian was one of four England players to play for England in the 1966 World Cup tournament without playing in the final itself.

Only the 11 players on the pitch at the end of the 4–2 win over West Germany received medals.

Following a campaign led by the Football Association to persuade FIFA  award medals to all the winners’ squad members, Ian  was presented with his medal by Gordon Brown at a ceremony at 10 Downing Street in 2009.

In 1976, at the age of 34, he played in Bob Paisley’s side which won a League and UEFA Cup double. He played in all the European matches and missed just two league games.

In the autumn of 1978, Ian finally left Liverpool and joined his former Anfield team mate John Toshack at Swansea City, helping them to two consecutive promotions.

Still revered by the Anfield faithful, he was voted in at No.15 in the ‘100 Players Who shook The Kop’ poll in the summer of 2006.

Speaking just after the centenary of Shankly’s birth, Ian said: “When you speak to anyone in the world and you mention Liverpool, the conversation always comes down to two things: The Beatles and Liverpool Football Club.

“That’s because of Shanks.

“People see this huge club. LFC. But what must be remembered is that he built it all up from nothing.

“When Shanks became manager in 1959 we were a Second Division club going absolutely nowhere.

“Two years later we were promoted, two years after that we were champions of England and, in 1965, Liverpool won the FA Cup for the first time.

“We were champions again the following year. Shanks loved that. He lived to win trophies.”

Ian insists Shankly would have been just as great in the modern era.

He revealed he had once bought a Yorkshire Terrier for his daughters  and called it Smudge – the nickname of his team mate Tommy Smith, the hard as nails centre half.

He said:“I thought that’s a good name for a dog, and Tommy was certainly a terrier the way he played.”

The dogs on show belonged to relatives of the residents and staff members at Pendine Park.

After careful deliberation Ian, alongside fellow judges, day care manager at Bodlondeb Kath Roberts, and chairman of children’s charity Variety, Jim Donaldson, he picked Oscar as the winner – a three-year-old Llahsa Apsa.

Jim said: “It was difficult to pick the winner because there were so many beautiful dogs, they really are.”

“Oscar’s a lovely looking dog, well behaved and very disciplined.

Ian added:  “I think Bodlondeb is a terrific place. This place is absolutely fantastic I think. It’s modern, there’s plenty of staff, and people seem to be fantastically well looked after.”

Jim, who’s charity Variety supports disenfranchised children, enjoyed every minute of the dog show.

He said: “That was great. I love animals, and I love dogs in particular. All the dogs were great – really well behaved. Kath asked us a couple of weeks ago if we could come and help today, and we were delighted to come.

“I think Pendine is fabulous. It’s a great place, it really is. It’s well run. The staff look after the residents really well, and they do a good job. It’s clean, and it’s a good home for the people who belong here. They put on a lot of things like the dog show.

Kath said: ““There were some beautiful dogs here. Everyone’s a winner. I love it. It’s very important for the residents that we put on things like this.

“You look around and you see their faces. You’ve only got to look at their eyes and you can tell it’s made a difference. It’s really rewarding.

“Pendine Park is an animal friendly place. As part of our enrichment programme, pet therapy is a very important part of what we do.”

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