Liverpool FC legend Ian Rush almost became Rangers’ first high-profile Catholic signing until a Celtic great stepped in to lure him back to Anfield.
Rush, who played for Liverpool from 1980 to 1986 and is still the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, recently revealed that his former teammate and then-Rangers manager, Graeme Souness, had been in touch with him when he was with Juventus in 1988 to offer him the chance to become the Gers’ first high-profile Catholic signing.
However, a fellow Red and Celtic icon, Sir Kenny Dalglish, threw a spanner in the works for Souness, ensuring that Rush returned to Merseyside instead of seeking out pastures new in Glasgow.
Rangers’ first high-profile Catholic signing eventually turned out to be former Celtic star Maurice Johnson.
Speaking ahead of today’s legends match between Liverpool and Rangers, Rush, who will manage the Liverpool legends, admitted he regretted never getting the chance to play at Ibrox.
“Normally, I play 15 or 20 minutes in the Legends games,” he told The Scottish Daily Mail. “I never played at Ibrox and I am gutted, really, because I have just had this op.
“Managing there will still be great, though. So far, my only connection with Ibrox comes from when Souness tried to buy me and I’m really looking forward to coming.
“Souey was a good mate and it was known I was leaving Juventus,” the Welshman continued.
“There were limits on foreign players then and I’d had a meeting with the club. Michael Laudrup was supposed to be going to PSV, I think, and that move broke down, so it was agreed I’d go if the right club came along.”
Rush revealed that Sir Alex Ferguson had called him, along with Uli Hoeness from Bayern and Colin Harvey at Everton.
However, despite being an Everton fan as a child, Rush knew he couldn’t join the Toffees or Manchester United, as the Liverpool fans would never forgive him.
“It was between Bayern and Rangers – and Souey would have swung it,” he admitted. “I liked Graeme as a person and a manager. He knew what he wanted and sold the club well.
“I am Catholic and that was one of the first things we talked about, but Souey convinced me that wouldn’t matter as long as I played the way I had been playing the previous seven or eight years,” he said.
“He told me there wouldn’t be a problem and I believed him.
“I was confident I would produce on the pitch. Maurice Johnston went there a little later and showed you will win the fans over with your performances,” Rush noted, adding: “It takes time to do that, of course, but nothing comes easy.”
However, the record goal scorer, who, up until 2018, was also the top scorer for the Welsh national team with 28 goals between 1980 and 1996 until Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale overtook him, admitted it was Sir Kenny’s intervention, as well as the call of home that led him back to Merseyside.
“If Kenny hadn’t called a few days later, I would have been at Rangers with Souey. In the end, I went to Liverpool because I knew I was going back home.
“I’d gone to Italy and realised the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I knew the club at Liverpool and knew exactly what to expect there.”
Rangers legends vs Liverpool legends will take place today at Ibrox, kick off at 3pm.
Picture: Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush (right) during a match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool. (Peter Byrne/PA).