Liverpool and Celtic great Kenny Dalglish dedicated his knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours to his family and everyone involved in his career after admitting it “doesn’t feel right” receiving the personal accolade.
‘King’ Kenny, as he is belovedly known by millions of football fans, has become, to give him his full, formal title, Sir Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish.
But the 67-year-old will not be signing himself as ‘Sir Kenny’ and is keen for the work which brought the recognition – rather than the recognition itself – to be the focus of attention.
And what a body of work it is. From extensive honours on the pitch – including winning three European Cups in seven years as a player – and lifting league titles with two different clubs as manager to off-field heroics in the wake of the Hillsborough Disaster and his charity work with wife Marina which had raised more than £10million.
“Obviously it takes everything you have done in your life into consideration,” said the Scot, who joked he thought the citation was a bill from the taxman when it dropped through his letterbox.
“Football was part of it and a very important part of it. So is the charity that we have in Marina’s name and obviously Hillsborough must have been part of it as well.
“Someone in their wisdom has thought it was deserving of some recognition. I am hugely proud to have accepted the accolade.
“You start off in your life just hoping to be a footballer. You become a footballer and have a bit of success and that seems to give you a platform to go on to other things.
“We only set out to do the best we possibly could, even through all the other stuff.
“The charity or Hillsborough; it was to help people because somebody helped us.”
From being the son of an engineer in the East End of Glasgow to a knight of the realm is a considerable journey.
Dalglish credits many people with having had a significant influence on his life and career.
“You start off with your parents and they put you on the right road,” he added.
“Then the football; you couldn’t get any better tutors than Jock Stein and Bob Paisley (his managers at Celtic and Liverpool respectively).
“People might say they didn’t get a recognition like this. I wouldn’t get into a discussion about that but I’m not saying I’m any more deserving than those two great men.
“Someone has thought it was fitting for me to get it and that’s all we can deal with at the moment.”
In talking about the award Dalglish, made an MBE in 1984 for services to football, used ‘we’ throughout – specifically referring to himself and his wife but also the wider family.
It is one of the qualities which allowed Dalglish to empathise so well with the people of Liverpool in dealing with the dreadful aftermath of Hillsborough where 96 people died in the 1989 FA Cup semi-final when he was Reds manager.
His team won the highly-emotional all-Merseyside final that year – a day Dalglishidentifies as the stand-out moment of his career.
“For me, that is the most important memory,” he said.
“Not because of the game itself but because of what it meant to the people of Liverpool.
“All right, we lost the league to Arsenal but I think the cup was the most important trophy that year for everybody – and that’s not to undervalue anything else.
“I look back and think ‘I’m really pleased we won that one’.”