Liverpool and Tottenham greats pay tribute to ‘giant of a man’ Ray Clemence

Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence has died
Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence has died (PA Wire)
20:51pm, Sun 15 Nov 2020
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Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence has been hailed as a “true legend” and “a giant of a man” after his death at the age of 72.

Clemence, who won three European Cups and five First Division titles during a trophy-laden spell at Anfield, was without question one of the greatest of his generation.

He won 61 England caps, which would undoubtedly have been many more had he not been competing with Peter Shilton, who accumulated 125, for the number one shirt.

“Today we have lost a true legend. Clem was a fantastic team-mate and great to be around,” former Liverpool player and manager Sir Kenny Dalglish wrote on Twitter in tribute to Clemence, who had been living with advanced prostate cancer since 2005.

An £18,000 signing from Scunthorpe by Bill Shankly, Clemence was a key member of the Liverpool team which dominated Europe between 1977 and 1981, also winning two UEFA Cups, an FA Cup and the League Cup.

At Tottenham, whom he joined in 1981 aged 32 for a fee of £300,000, he won another UEFA Cup and FA Cup.

Spurs team-mate Ossie Ardiles tweeted: “So so sad to heard the news of Raymondo passing away. He was a great goalkeeper, wonderful companion, friend.

“He battled this illness right until the very end. We will miss you. Rest in peace my friend. My family and my thoughts and prayers go out to Vee, her family and friends.”

In an interview in 2018 with Prostate Cancer UK, the former goalkeeper spoke about how he was dealing with the illness, saying: “I just want to give a positive attitude to everybody who has a connection with prostate cancer, whether they’re helping to find cures or they’ve got it.

“There’s lots of talk about men like me only lasting five or six years with it. Well I’m 13 going on 14 years now, and I’m doing all the things that I want.

“I’m a survivor, basically, and I want to continue enjoying life for as long as possible.”

His family announced his death on Sunday in a statement which said: “With great sadness, we write to let you know that Ray Clemence passed away peacefully today, surrounded by his loving family.

“After fighting so hard, for such a long time, he’s now at peace and in no more pain.

Ray Clemence, right, and Liverpool team-mates (PA Archive)

“The family would like to say a huge thank you, for all the love and support that he’s received over the years. He was loved so much by us all and he will never be forgotten.”

Tributes flooded in from across football, led by England manager Gareth Southgate, who described Clemence as “a very special man”.

Southgate, preparing his side for their Nations League match in Belgium said: “He has obviously been a wonderful servant for English football, for two massive clubs but for England as well.

“He was an incredible goalkeeper who also represented England for a long time as a coach behind the scenes at the FA.

“He was a very special man. I know he’s had some really difficult battles with illness so it’s a very sad day and our thoughts are with all his family.”

Former Liverpool team-mate Terry McDermott wrote on Twitter: “Gutted to hear the news about Ray’s passing. It was a privilege to share a dressing room with one of the greatest goalkeepers and greatest people you could ever meet.”

Phil Thompson, who won three European cups and five league titles playing in front of Clemence, tweeted: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Ray Clemence my eyes and ears as a team-mate, and oh what a keeper”, while Ian Rush wrote: “We have lost a true legend! It was an honour to know you and to get the chance to play with you!”

A former Liverpool defender of a different generation Jamie Carragher described Clemence as “An @LFC giant who was also a giant of a man” while goalkeeper David James, who whose career mirrored Clemence’s in playing for Liverpool and England, wrote “I’m deeply saddened to hear the passing of Ray Clemence, Clem was my coach with @England for more than a decade.

“A lovely man with a wicked left foot, I had a poster of him on my bedroom wall as a kid.”

Clemence’s long-time rival for the England number one spot Shilton wrote on Twitter he was “absolutely devastated” to lose a good friend who was “a brilliant goalkeeper with a terrific sense of humour”.

After finishing ending his playing career with Spurs in 1988 he moved into a coaching role at the club, working his way up to the first team before leaving to become joint manager of Barnet for a couple of years.

In 1996 he became England goalkeeper coach under Glenn Hoddle and worked under subsequent managers Kevin Keegan, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Steve McClaren and, after losing the position under Fabio Capello, reprised the role for Roy Hodgson in 2012.

He was so trusted by national team managers Eriksson admitted in his early days he allowed Clemence to pick the starting keeper.

“Sometimes at the beginning he chose (who was the best goalkeeper) and I was sure he was right, I trusted him 110 per cent,” the Swede told Sky Sports News.

“He was a great man for me, not only professionally but personally and we became close friends.”

Clemence remained on the England coaching staff under Capello and the Italian described him as “a fantastic person and a good friend”.

Capello added: “We often played golf together with Sir Trevor Brooking which I always enjoyed.

“I really appreciated his knowledge and loyal support while I was the England manager.”

Clemence is survived by his wife Veronica, son Stephen – a former player himself and now a coach – and daughters Sarah and Julie.

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