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Jim Beglin: 'I was both sad and proud. My dad would have been thrilled'

Former Liverpool and Irish defender Jim Beglin spoke to Shane Costello from The42.ie about the best and worst moments of his sporting career.

Jim Beglin in action for Liverpool in the European Cup.
Jim Beglin in action for Liverpool in the European Cup.
Image: EMPICS Sport

Favourite sporting memory from my playing career

PICKING MY FAVOURITE memory from my playing career is an easy one for me. It was clinching the double in Wembley in 1986, after winning the league at Chelsea the week before.

The FA Cup final of ’86 against Everton was a really spectacular occasion with no animosity between the rival supporters. It was the first Merseyside Cup final, but also the two best teams in England. On the day, I had a lot of nervous energy; it was hard to absorb it all.

My dad was a passionate Liverpool fan, and he died after I signed for them. As I reflected about what I achieved, I was both sad and proud. My dad would have been thrilled.

The celebrations later that night are a precious memory for me. My family and friends came over from Ireland and they ended up partying with me and team in London. That was special.

Winning the double felt like all my hard work through the years was now starting to pay dividends. To win it at 22 years-old was a great achievement, considering what would happen later on in my career.

Worst sporting memory from my playing career

I remember the day well, 21 January, 1987. It was another Merseyside derby against Everton in the fifth round of the League Cup.

A tackle from Everton’s right-back, Gary Stevens, left me with a double fracture of my leg. It was a horrible injury with the doctor operating through the night.

After learning the Liverpool way in the reserves, I felt the injury hit me when I was at my best. At 23 years-old, I was in a strong Liverpool team, delivering consistent performances and improving all the time.

Although I would never play for Liverpool again, the injury didn’t retire me, I went on to play 20 odd games for Leeds and won the second division title but I was never the same player again.

At the beginning I was angry about my injury, but I don’t dwell on it, in the end the anger only affects you. You have to take the blows in life and pick yourself up.

Favourite sporting memory that I wasn’t involved in

My injury meant I never played in a major tournament for Ireland. I played in two of the qualifiers for Euro 88, but I would have loved to have been part of Italia ‘90, especially the penalty shoot-out against Romania.

I was in Genoa for that match, covering the game for RTÉ Radio. I would have killed to have been part of it, but I suppose commentating was the next best thing.

My nerves were building throughout the game. After 120 minutes without a goal, penalties stood between us and a place in the quarter-finals. When David O’Leary scored the winning penalty, I was so proud to be Irish, I remember the utter joy I felt, but it was tinged with sadness that I was not part of it.

Looking back, I think I would have been willing to take a penalty. I definitely wouldn’t have shied away from it, anyway. There seems to be something about left-backs taking penalties. I will never forget Alan Kennedy scoring the decisive penalty for Liverpool to win the 1984 European Cup final in a shoot-out against Roma.

I once did something Daniel Timofte of Romania failed to do and score in a penalty shoot-out against Packie Bonner, in an exhibition match between Liverpool and Celtic. I still like to remind him of that!

Giving my younger advice

The main piece of advice I would give my younger self is to always consider the bigger picture and not to act solely on impulse. Growing up, I was a little impatient and didn’t always think things through.I didn’t appreciate the importance of seeking good advice from people.

When Joe Fagan, the Liverpool manager started taking me with the first-team, I wasn’t happy as I didn’t get any game time. I just wanted to play football.

Previously, I played reserve matches on a Saturday afternoon and I thought the lack of minutes was going to have an impact on my overall sharpness and fitness levels.

I was frustrated, but looking back I should have taken it as a compliment, they must have seen a player in me. Joe Fagan later told me my path was being planned and he was just trying to guide me through the transition from reserves to first-team action. I suppose this lack of perception comes with youth, both on and off the pitch.

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Shane Costello

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