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Graeme Souness

"Souness" redirects here. For the 1950s footballer and cricketer, see Jim Souness.

Graeme Souness
Full nameGraeme James Souness
Date of birth (1953-05-06) 6 May 1953 (age 62)
Place of birthEdinburgh, Scotland
HeightScript error: No such module "convert".
Playing positionMidfielder
Youth career
Tynecastle Boys Club
Senior career*
1970–1972Tottenham Hotspur0(0)
1972Montreal Olympique (loan)10(2)
1978West Adelaide (loan)6(1)
National team
Teams managed
2000–2004Blackburn Rovers
2004–2006Newcastle United

Graeme James Souness (/ˈsnɨs/; born 6 May 1953) is a Scottish former professional football player and manager.

Souness was the captain of the successful Liverpool team of the early 1980s and player-manager of Rangers in the late 1980s as well as captain of the Scottish national team. He also played for Tottenham Hotspur, Middlesbrough and Sampdoria in a long career.

His managerial career began when he joined Rangers, leading them to three Scottish titles, before joining Liverpool, this time as manager. He went on to become manager of Galatasaray, Southampton, Torino, Benfica, Blackburn Rovers, and Newcastle United.

Souness now does media work and divides his time working as a pundit for RTÉ, ESPN, Sky Sports and Bein Sports.

Club career

Early career

Souness was brought up in the Saughton Mains area of Edinburgh, and supported local side Hearts[1] and Rangers.[2] As a teenager Souness played for local boys' club North Merchiston.

Souness's career began as an apprentice at Tottenham Hotspur under Bill Nicholson. He signed professional forms as a 15-year-old in 1968. Frustrated at a lack of first team opportunities, the teenage Souness reputedly informed Nicholson that he was the best player at the club. Souness made one first team appearance for Spurs, in a UEFA Cup tie as a substitute.

During the summer of 1972, Souness played in the North American Soccer League for the Montreal Olympique. He appeared in 10 of his team's 14 games, and was named in the league's All-Star team for that season.


Spurs sold Souness to Middlesbrough for £30,000 in 1972. Souness made his first appearance for Middlesbrough on 6 January 1973, in a 2–1 league defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage. His first goal came on 11 December 1973 in a 3–0 league victory over Preston North End at Ayresome Park.

Souness's tenacious style began to garner acclaim during his time at Middlesbrough. His first season saw Middlesbrough finish fourth, two places and 14 points short of promotion. Jack Charlton was appointed Middlesbrough manager, his first managerial post, in May 1973. Promotion as champions of the Second Division followed in 1973/74. Souness's influence was demonstrated when he scored a hat-trick in the season's final fixture, an 8–0 victory over Sheffield Wednesday.


Souness's playing career is best remembered for his seven seasons at Liverpool, where he won five League Championships, three European Cups and four League Cups.

His time at Anfield began in 1978 as a replacement for veteran Ian Callaghan. After winning his first European Cup in 1977, Liverpool manager Bob Paisley sought reinforcements by signing three Scottish players, all of whom were to contribute substantially to further success. Central defender Alan Hansen arrived from Partick Thistle for £110,000. Kenny Dalglish – an established Scottish international – signed from Celtic for a then British record fee of £440,000. Souness formed the final part of the Scottish triumvirate, leaving Middlesbrough in acrimonious circumstances for a club-record fee of £350,000 on 10 January 1978.[3]

Souness's Liverpool debut came in a 1–0 league victory over West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on 14 January 1978. His first goal – a characteristic volley just inside the penalty box, eventually awarded fans' goal of the season – came in a 3–1 win over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield on 25 February 1978.

Souness played a critical role in Liverpool's retention of the European Cup against FC Bruges at Wembley, providing the pass for Dalglish to score the game's only goal.

Sustained success followed. Souness's first League title medals were won in seasons 1978–79 and 1979–80. A second European Cup medal for Souness arrived in 1981 with a 1–0 victory over Real Madrid – the culmination of a campaign in which Souness scored a hat-trick in the quarter-final against CSKA Sofia.

This burst of success prompted Paisley to award Souness the club captaincy for season 1981–82, to the chagrin of the incumbent Phil Thompson who had made some errors that season and Paisley had a vicious row with during one match at Aston Villa.[4] Thompson initially refused to speak to Souness claiming he had "stolen the captaincy" from behind his back. This was the start of several long running feuds between the two robust characters and over the coming years they would confront each other in various circumstances.[4]

Under Souness's captaincy, two trophies followed as Liverpool regained the League championship and retained the League Cup – trophies that were successfully defended in season 1982–83. Souness relinquished his right as captain to lift the League Cup at Wembley after the 2–1 win over Manchester United in 1983, insisting that Paisley collected the trophy in his retirement season.

In 1983–84, Souness lifted three trophies. He scored the winning goal in a League Cup final replay at Maine Road against Merseyside rivals Everton – the first all-Merseyside cup final.[5] Liverpool won the league title for the third consecutive season and reached the 1984 European Cup final after beating Romanian champions Dinamo Bucharest in the semi-final 3–1 on aggregate. In an ill-tempered first leg at Anfield, Souness broke the jaw of Bucharest captain Lica Movila, which went unpunished by the referee.[6] Liverpool won the European Cup final after a penalty shoot-out win over AS Roma, with Souness scoring one of the penalties in the shootout.

Souness's Liverpool career ended in 1984 after 358 appearances and 56 goals.


Souness left Liverpool in 1984, joining Sampdoria for a fee of £650,000. Souness and England international Trevor Francis – a player at the Genoa-based club since 1982 – added experience to an emerging group of future Italian internationals, including Roberto Mancini, Pietro Vierchowod and Gianluca Vialli. In his first season, Sampdoria won the Coppa Italia with a 3–1 victory over Serie A rivals AC Milan, securing the trophy for the first time in the club's history.

Souness's career in Italy ended in 1986 as he took up the position of player-manager at Rangers, making a further 50 league appearances before retiring as a player in 1991 at the age of 38.

International career

While a Middlesbrough player, Souness received his first international cap for Scotland on 30 October 1974 in a 3–0 friendly victory over East Germany at Hampden Park. By the time Souness was selected by manager Ally McLeod for the Scotland squad for the World Cup in Argentina in 1978, however, he had been awarded only six caps. His move to Liverpool, and a greatly increased profile, saw growing demands for the award of regular place.

A defeat and a draw in Scotland's first two World Cup group games against Peru and Iran saw calls for Souness, recovered from injury, to play in the critical final group match against the Netherlands. Replacing an established midfield, Souness contributed to a 3–2 victory that nevertheless saw Scotland eliminated from the tournament on goal difference.

Souness played in two further World Cups. The first, in 1982 in Spain, saw Souness play all three group games. His first international goal arrived in the final match prior to elimination, a 2–2 draw with the Soviet Union in Malaga.

A final World Cup appearance came in 1986 in Mexico, at a time when Souness had already been appointed Rangers player-manager. Souness played in defeats to Denmark and West Germany. He was omitted by caretaker manager Alex Ferguson for Scotland's final game against Uruguay, apparently due to his poor physical condition after the previous two matches where he had lost much fluid and weight. In Souness's autobiography, The Management Years he claims this was the first and only time in his whole career, including at schoolboy level, he had ever been dropped for a football match. Ferguson was unusually apologetic and was very respectful and diplomatic in his conversation with Souness at night when he broke the news to him, as he held Souness in high regard.[7]

Souness's Scotland career ended after the World Cup after 54 appearances and four goals in almost 12 years.

Club career statistics


Club performance League Cup League Cup Continental Total
Season Club League Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1971–72 Tottenham Hotspur First Division 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0
Canada League Open Canada Cup League Cup North America Total
1972 Montreal Olympique NASL 10 2
England League FA Cup League Cup Europe Total
1972–73 Middlesbrough Second Division 9 0
1973–74 35 7
1974–75 First Division 38 7
1975–76 35 3
1976–77 38 2
1977–78 19 3
1977–78 Liverpool First Division 15 2 0 0 0 0 3 0 18 2
1978–79 41 8 7 1 1 0 4 0 53 9
1979–80 41 1 8 1 7 0 2 0 59* 2
1980–81 37 6 1 0 8 1 8 6 55* 13
1981–82 35 5 3 0 9 1 6 0 54^ 6
1982–83 41 9 3 0 8 2 6 0 59* 11
1983–84 37 7 2 0 12 5 9 0 61* 12
Italy League Coppa Italia League Cup Europe Total
1984–85 Sampdoria Serie A 28 5
1985–86 28 3
Scotland League Scottish Cup League Cup Europe Total
1986–87 Rangers Premier Division 25 1 1 0 3 2 3 0 32 3
1987–88 18 2 3 0 3 0 6 0 30 2
1988–89 6 0 1 0 3 0 10 0
1989–90 1 0
Country England 421 60 24 2 46 9 38 6 533 77
Canada 10 2 10 2
Italy 56 8
Scotland 50 3 5 0 9 2 9 0 73 5
Total 537 73 29 2 55 11 47 6 673 92

* Includes appearance in FA Community Shield that season

^ Includes appearances in Intercontinental Cup

International career statistics

Scotland national team
Year Apps Goals
1974 2 0
1975 1 0
1976 0 0
1977 0 0
1978 6 0
1979 6 0
1980 3 0
1981 4 0
1982 9 1
1983 8 1
1984 4 1
1985 7 0
1986 4 1
Total 54 4

Managerial career


Souness was appointed Rangers' first player-manager in April 1986, signing from Sampdoria for a fee of £300,000 and succeeding Jock Wallace. Financed initially by the club's then owner, Lawrence Marlborough, Souness and club chairman David Holmes embarked upon a bold strategy of reclaiming the footballing ascendancy that Rangers had been desperately seeking in Scotland after years in the wilderness due to the dominance of arch-rivals, Celtic, and the emergence of the 'New Firm' of Aberdeen and Dundee United. Souness's appointment as Rangers' manager garnered most attention, but his arrival as a player was also of significance. Souness arrived at Ibrox with a reputation as one of Europe's leading midfielders – a view evidenced by his success at Liverpool and, to a lesser extent, with Sampdoria. His signing was unusual in that Scottish clubs had rarely been able to sign top-quality internationals, including Scots, from other leagues.

What came popularly to be termed the 'Souness Revolution' began with a slew of major signings from English clubs. Significantly, this reversed the historic pattern of Scotland's most able footballers playing in England. Souness's first season saw the arrival of players such as Terry Butcher, captain of Ipswich Town and an established England international, and Chris Woods of Norwich City, England's second-choice goalkeeper. Subsequent seasons saw the arrival of other English internationals, such as Trevor Steven, Gary Stevens, Trevor Francis and Ray Wilkins. Souness was able to offer the lure of European club competition, at a time – 1985–90 – when English clubs were banned from Europe in the wake of the Heysel Stadium disaster. Rangers profited from this by embarking upon a signing policy which drew on their relative wealth to compete, for the first time, directly with England's most powerful clubs.

Souness's revitalised Rangers quickly began to dominate Scottish football. In his first season, 1986–87 they won the Championship and the League Cup, beating Celtic 2–1 in the final. Two more Championships were to follow, this time in successive seasons (1988–89 and 1989–90), and a further two League Cup victories, over Aberdeen 3–2 in 1988–89 and Celtic 2–1 in 1990–91. Souness left Rangers, to take over as manager of Liverpool, in 1991, replaced by his assistant, Walter Smith, four games prior to the end of what was to become another championship-winning season.

Souness's time at Ibrox was marked by persistent controversy. His most noteworthy act was the controversial signing of Mo Johnston in 1989. Rangers – historically a team supported by Protestants – were widely held to have implemented for most of the 20th century a policy of refusing to sign Roman Catholics. Although several previous Rangers players came from Catholic backgrounds (including, at the time of Johnston's signing, John Spencer), their religious background was not made public and none of them were high-profile players. Johnston's arrival at Ibrox was significant because it signalled a very public end to a discriminatory signing policy. It was also significant because Johnston, a former Celtic player and coveted Scottish international, had days earlier at a press conference at Celtic Park publicly announced his decision to return to his former club. After he left Rangers, Souness suggested bigotry "will always be at Ibrox".[9] Souness himself stated that religion wasn't an issue for him and his first wife was a Catholic. The children from his first marriage were baptised Catholic.[10]

Further controversy centred on Souness's dealings with the Scottish Football Association and Scottish League hierarchies. A succession of confrontational after-match comments pitched Souness regularly at loggerheads with both organisations, prompting touchline bans which Souness circumvented in characteristically provocative fashion by naming himself as a substitute, allowing access as a player to the dugout. In May 1990, Souness was fined £5,000 by the SFA for breaching a touchline ban after television pictures showed him in the tunnel area yelling at his players on the pitch.[11] Souness was later to claim that conflict with officialdom was one of the principal factors precipitating his departure from Ibrox.

Souness's playing career at Ibrox began inauspiciously. His competitive debut – in the opening game of the 1986–87 season, against Hibernian in his hometown of Edinburgh – saw him sent off after two yellow cards in the first 34 minutes. Souness later self-deprecatingly argued that his second booking, for a foul on George McCluskey, had been awarded because "my boot ran up his leg". Disciplinary problems – something that had recurred periodically throughout Souness's career – resurfaced on a number of occasions during his time as a player at Rangers. Souness made 49 appearances for Rangers. Much of his time as player was blighted by injury. His final appearance as a player was at Ibrox in a 2–0 victory over Dunfermline Athletic in Rangers' last home game of the 1989–90 season, when he brought himself on for the final 20 minutes.

In 2009, Souness said of his time as Rangers' manager: "When I look back on my actions and antics at Ibrox I bordered on being out of order. I was obnoxious and difficult to deal with."[12]


Kenny Dalglish, who had played alongside Souness at Liverpool, resigned as Liverpool manager in February 1991 after five and a half seasons in charge, during which the club had been league champions three times and FA Cup winners twice (including double winners in 1986) and had never finished lower than runners-up in the league. Coach Ronnie Moran was put in temporary charge following Dalglish's sudden resignation on 22 February, but on 15 April it was reported that Souness had been made an offer by the Liverpool board to return to the club as manager. He accepted the offer was unveiled as the club's new manager the following day on a five-year contract.[13][14][15]

His appointment came just before Liverpool finished second to Arsenal in the race for the 1990–91 league title. He made a major reorganisation of the squad for the following season, bringing in Dean Saunders for a national record of £2.9million as well as defenders Mark Wright and Rob Jones and midfielder Mark Walters. He also gave a regular place in the team to 19-year-old midfielder Steve McManaman, whose debut had come under Kenny Dalglish in December 1990, and near the end of that campaign he gave a professional contract to youth team striker Robbie Fowler.

During the early stages of the 1991–92 season, Liverpool were looking like serious title contenders, but it soon became an effective two-horse race between Manchester United and Leeds United. Leeds eventually took the title, while Liverpool came sixth, and also won the FA Cup. They also returned to European competition that season after six years of isolation following the Heysel disaster of 1985, and reached the UEFA Cup quarter finals where they were eliminated by Genoa of Italy.

The three years which followed were disappointing for Souness for Liverpool. Poor tactics, a number of ill-judged transfer dealings and poor man-management meant that one of Europe's most successful clubs of all time went trophyless during that period, except for the a 2–0 victory in the 1992 FA Cup final over Second Division Sunderland.

Souness later claimed in his autobiography, The Management Years that he faced an uphill struggle from day one for a number of reasons. The majority of key players were around or over the age of 30 such as Ian Rush, John Barnes, Peter Beardsley, Steve McMahon, Ray Houghton, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan, Steve Nicol, and Bruce Grobbelaar, many of whom many had testimonials during his time in charge. He knew they had eventually to be replaced and he doubted some of their desire. He claims in his book the senior pros also appeared not to want to listen to him and may have resented his disciplinarian approach to their behaviour, and also claimed a number of players including Beardsley and McMahon asked for improved terms on their contracts or they would move elsewhere.[7] In the end Beardsley, McMahon, and Houghton were sold, seemingly before quality replacements were found and these key components of Kenny Dalglish's last great side were not adequately replaced. Souness claimed that Ian Rush and Ray Houghton had also demanded to know why new signings like Mark Wright were earning more money than them despite not yet having won any trophies.[7] Souness also claims Liverpool chief executive Peter Robinson at the time had warned him this was a Liverpool team in decline and that they only had one player who was still great, John Barnes. Souness was left disappointed by Barnes as he was at this time frequently suffering from injuries, and in particular suffered a ruptured achilles tendon which was to eventually affect his acceleration therefore affecting his playing style, and not giving Souness what he wanted from a vintage Barnes at his peak, which was what he saw as a "devastating winger with pace and goalscoring touch." He had also claimed that Barnes was once the "best player in Britain" but unfortunately only saw flashes of his brilliance.[7] Rumours about squabbles in the dressing room between the players and Souness were rife, with Ian Rush famously telling a Sky Sports interviewer that 'teacups being thrown' were nothing new.

Souness had major heart surgery in April 1992, and led his players out at Wembley for the FA Cup final just days after leaving hospital. But there had been controversy over the semi-final against Portsmouth, which Liverpool needed a replay and penalties to win. In the event of a victory for Liverpool, an interview was due to be published in the Sun, a British tabloid, with Souness celebrating the win and his own successful surgery. The photograph which accompanied the interview was of Souness, in his hospital ward, kissing his girlfriend with joy at his own recovery and his team's win. The interview was due to go in alongside the match report on 14 April 1992 but the late end to the game meant that the deadline for publication was missed and the report, with interview and photograph, went in on 15 April instead – the third anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, which had claimed the lives of 95 fans (a 96th victim would die in 1993, having never regained consciousness). Liverpool fans reacted with fury after seeing that the interview was conducted with the Sun – a newspaper which had been boycotted by many people in Liverpool for the intervening years over its reporting of the events at Hillsborough. Although he apologised at the time, Souness has since said that he probably should have resigned there and then.[16]

Souness also fell out with fellow Anfield legends and former team-mates Tommy Smith and Phil Thompson during his time in charge at Anfield. In his autobiography, Souness claims that Thompson, the reserve team manager, was overheard angrily criticising his tactics and purchases behind his back. This was overheard by Manchester United Assistant Manager Brian Kidd and relayed to Walter Smith who was so alarmed by Thompson's behaviour that he drove from Scotland to Liverpool to tell Souness what had been said. Souness dismissed Thompson as a result and the two have remained bitter towards each other since, with Thompson claiming in his own book he would never speak to Souness again as a result.[7] Souness claimed that he had a number of spats as a Liverpool player with Thompson, including in 1981 when Thompson initially refused to speak to Souness for a while after he lost the captaincy to Souness. Thompson accused Souness to his face and in front of the other Liverpool players of "Stealing the captaincy behind his back". They also had an argument and physical fight, which took place after Thompson had accused Souness of marrying his first wife Danielle only because she was wealthy. Souness believed these incidents may have contributed to Thompson's hostility and disrespect of him.[7] Tommy Smith had been strongly criticising Souness in the local media at the time, and he had been caught mixing with the players and some of the coaches at Anfield despite no longer having an official position at the club. Souness banned Smith from the club areas, and said that in his last phone call with Tommy Smith instructing him not to hang around the official club areas, he was certain he had "made an enemy for life".[7]

1992–93 was an even more frustrating season for Souness. Just after the start of the season, he sold Dean Saunders to Aston Villa. While Saunders was a key player in Villa's near-successful title challenge, his successor Paul Stewart proved to be perhaps the biggest flop to play under Souness at Liverpool, scoring just one league goal from 32 appearances over the next two seasons and missing many games through injury. Ian Rush was having a torrid time in front of goal, and Liverpool spent most of the season in the bottom half of the table. They entered March still only in 15th place, but an excellent final quarter of the season – in which Rush scored 11 Premier League goals – saw them finish sixth.

The fans were running out of patience with Souness, but he made one last attempt at revitalising Liverpool by signing defender Julian Dicks and striker Nigel Clough for the 1993–94 season. The season began well enough, but a dismal run of form in early winter effectively ended hopes of the Premier League title and Souness resigned as Liverpool manager at the end of January 1994 when Liverpool had suffered a shock FA Cup exit at the hands of Bristol City. He was succeeded by coach Roy Evans.

Souness's reign as Liverpool manager was not remembered with fondness by the club's fans, though there were some positive events. Apart from guiding them to FA Cup success in 1992, he also oversaw the breakthrough of three young players who would go on to be a key part in Liverpool's better performances over the next five years – Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Redknapp, allowing them to play and develop in the first team where they went on to become highly successful club players for Liverpool, though their international careers were largely disappointing. In 1992, Souness had also brought in David James as an eventual successor to Bruce Grobbelaar (who finally left in 1994) and although the player's fortunes at Anfield were mixed, he later went on to enjoy better fortunes elsewhere and was still keeping goal for England at the end of the following decade as he approached his 40th birthday.


After leaving Liverpool, Souness was out of work for over a year, despite reports at the end of the 1993–94 season linking him with a return to Middlesbrough as manager – a job which went to Bryan Robson instead.[17]

He went to manage Galatasaray in Turkey in June 1995, and again managed to court controversy with local issues – nearly sparking a riot after placing a large Galatasaray flag into the centre circle of the pitch of arch rivals Fenerbahçe after Galatasaray had beaten them in the Turkish Cup final on 24 April 1996. The iconic image of the victor planting the flag drew comparisons with Turkish hero Ulubatli Hasan, who was killed as he planted the Ottoman flag at the end of the Siege of Constantinople. This earned Souness the nickname 'Ulubatlı Souness'.[18]


Souness then returned to England to manage Southampton, but after one season he resigned, citing differences with chairman Rupert Lowe. Souness is perhaps best remembered at Southampton for signing Senegalese player Ali Dia, supposedly on the recommendation of former FIFA World Player of the Year and former Liberian striker George Weah. Souness did not check any of Dia's supposed credentials, and this subsequently proved to be a hoax, instigated by Dia's agent (who had made the initial call). When Dia played his only game in the Premier League as a substitute for Matt Le Tissier, he performed amazingly poorly, and was later substituted himself after only 20 minutes on the field.

The Saints managed to avoid relegation from the Premier League in Souness's only season as manager, finishing 16th, but he resigned towards the end of May 1997. Within days it was reported that Everton, Liverpool's local rivals, were interesting in appointing him as manager to succeed Joe Royle, but this never happened.[19]


After his stint at Southampton, Souness went back to Italy to become the coach at Torino. When he arrived it was clear he would have no say in what players he could buy or sell, as the club's owner made those decisions.[citation needed] Souness lasted just four months before being dismissed.


In 1997, Souness was signed by S.L. Benfica's new chairman Vale e Azevedo, who promised to return the club to its old glories. The Scottish manager brought several British players from the Premier League (defenders Steve Harkness and Gary Charles, midfielders Michael Thomas and Mark Pembridge and forwards Dean Saunders and Brian Deane) as well as refusing to sign emerging talent Deco. After two unsuccessful seasons, Souness was sacked. All of Benfica's British footballers (including the previously signed left-back Scott Minto) also left the club.

Blackburn Rovers

He then became manager of Blackburn Rovers, earning promotion back to the Premier League in his first full season. During his four-year spell at Blackburn he initially got the very best out of talented youngsters such as Damien Duff, David Dunn and Matt Jansen; brought Henning Berg back to the club and signed big name players like Andy Cole, Tugay Kerimoğlu, Brad Friedel and Dwight Yorke. Cole and Jansen scored in Blackburn's 2–1 League Cup victory over Tottenham Hotspur in 2002.

Souness then guided Blackburn to a top 6 finish before a disappointing final season in 2003–04 in which the club struggled, although they avoided relegation. After less than one month of the following season many Blackburn fans had begun to express grave doubts in Souness' handling of the club. His authoritarian methods had led to the alienation or departure of Yorke, Cole, Dunn, Berg and Keith Gillespie.

Although Souness could not be blamed for the long term loss of Matt Jansen to a motorbike accident or Damien Duff's departure to Chelsea for £17 million, these players however were not sufficiently replaced in the transfer market. Vratislav Greško, Lorenzo Amoruso and £6.75 million signing Corrado Grabbi were all flops for Blackburn, whilst Steven Reid and Brett Emerton were also disappointing – although they both improved for Blackburn after Souness' departure.

Newcastle United

Souness left Blackburn Rovers in 2004 to become manager of Newcastle United.[20]

Despite a promising start to his role with results back to back, Souness quickly fell out with a number of players, including Welsh international Craig Bellamy, who left the club to join Souness's former employers, Blackburn, after being farmed out on loan to Celtic. Laurent Robert, Olivier Bernard, and Jermaine Jenas are also believed to have left the club on bad terms with Souness. The team finished 14th in the league and despite making it to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup and the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Souness found himself under mounting pressure from Toon supporters.

Newcastle began the 2005–06 season in poor form, but Souness was hoping that the purchase of Michael Owen from Real Madrid on 30 August for an estimated club-record fee of £17 million would help to turn the club's fortunes around. Newcastle recorded a win in the Tyne-Wear derby against Sunderland (3–2), and went on to win their next three games, keeping three clean sheets. Souness seemed to be tightening-up Newcastle in defence, with six clean sheets in Newcastle's first 12 games of the season (as many as the whole of the preceding campaign). His decision to reform the former England striker duo Alan Shearer and Michael Owen initially appeared shrewd. But to Souness's and the club's misfortune, Michael Owen cracked the fifth metatarsal of his right foot, when he clashed with England team-mate Paul Robinson during a 2–0 defeat at Tottenham on 30 December 2005 and was out of action for three months, adding to the club's injury woes.

Criticism of Souness's apparent lack of long term planning, centred on a threadbare squad, and a consequent vulnerability to injury. Expensive signings, such as Jean-Alain Boumsong for £8 million,[21] and Albert Luque for £10 million failed to make an impression. By the end of his reign as Newcastle boss, Souness was deeply unpopular with the Newcastle fans, as evidenced by the frequency and vociferousness of "Souness Oot" chants.

By the beginning of February 2006, Newcastle United were placed 15th in the Premier League table and sliding dangerously towards a relegation battle, despite the spending of £50m since Souness's arrival. Results were not going in United's favour and sports media consistently questioned his position at the club. On 2 February 2006, Souness was sacked as manager by chairman Freddy Shepard and replaced by United's Youth Academy Director Glenn Roeder.

In the club's DVD season review for the 2005–06 season, goalkeeper Shay Given and defender Robbie Elliott, acknowledged that Souness was under pressure at the club as a result of injuries to the squad and admitted that some players were to blame for their lack of all round effort, but also admitted there was a bad atmosphere at the training ground, with Souness seeming to favour some players over others. Alan Shearer acknowledged that the fans never really accepted Souness, as well as several injuries being instrumental in damaging the team's confidence. Chairman Freddy Shepard declared that it was the team's formation and loss against Manchester City that promoted his decision to sack Souness.[22]

In May 2008, Souness was named by Observer Sport Monthly as the 'Worst Football Manager', citing his failings at Newcastle and Liverpool as the main reasons.[23]

Stevens inquiry

In the report of the Stevens inquiry into football corruption published in June 2007, Souness was criticised for an apparent lack of consistency:

Souness issued a statement denying any wrongdoing: The Stevens inquiry then issued a clarification: In July 2007, Newcastle United was raided by the City of London Police, who were investigating transfer deals involving Newcastle, Rangers and Portsmouth. Two Souness transfers, Jean-Alain Boumsong and Amdy Faye, were among a list of 17 transfers that were not cleared by Quest.[28] The Boumsong deal in particular was so odd that it was widely commented upon at the time.[29] Four months after succeeding Sir Bobby Robson as manager, Souness was in his first transfer window as Newcastle manager. At £8.2m, Boumsong was his first big signing and Souness said he would replace Jonathan Woodgate in the Newcastle defence,[30] which had conceded several leads earlier in the season.[31]

Newcastle were well aware of Boumsong prior to his move from Auxerre to Rangers on a free transfer.[32] Robson had travelled to France to watch him, but he declined the opportunity to sign Boumsong.[29] Liverpool were also interested in signing Boumsong.[33] Robson's doubts were confirmed when Boumsong marked Alan Shearer in a pre-season game against Rangers.[29] Shearer came off to speak in dismissive terms about the Frenchman's lack of physique,[29] and he later mentioned Boumsong's previous availability on a free transfer on television.[29]

When Boumsong was given a torrid time by DJ Campbell during his Newcastle debut against Yeading in the FA Cup, doubts over the wisdom of the transfer mushroomed.[29] The agent in the Boumsong and Faye transfers was Willie McKay. On 7 November 2007, Quest issued the following statement about McKay's dealings:

Career after management

Media work

Souness used to regularly appear as a television analyst in Ireland. He primarily featured on RTÉ's live coverage of the Champions League and on their highlights show Premier Soccer Saturday, covering the English Premier League. He was also regularly seen covering RTÉ's coverage of Republic of Ireland football internationals. Souness contributed to RTÉ Sport's coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, alongside John Giles, Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady, Ronnie Whelan, Denis Irwin, Ossie Ardiles and Dietmar Hamann for the duration of the Group Stages.[35][36]

During analysis of the World Cup game between Ghana and Serbia on Sunday 13 June 2010, Souness made a controversial rape comment involving Nemanja Vidić and Fernando Torres live on air, commenting "Vidic got raped..... sorry, taken apart by Torres at Liverpool", that forced RTÉ to censor Souness and publicly apologise after a commercial break.[37][38] Souness is not often seen on RTÉ nowadays.

Elsewhere, Souness works with Sky Sports as a pundit, principally on coverage of the Champions League.[citation needed], however, he has regularly stated that he prefers working with RTÉ, due to their "call it like it is" approach to football.[citation needed]. Souness also worked with Al Jazeera Sports in South Africa for their coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup knockout stages.

In 2003, Souness appeared as Dale Winton's best man in the BBC Three spoof mockumentary Dale's Wedding.[39]

Possible returns to management

In June 2006, the chairman of Crystal Palace, Simon Jordan claimed he wished to discuss with Souness a role in managing the club following the departure of Iain Dowie.[40] His arrival however never materialised.

He looked to be the front runner for the Bolton Wanderers manager's job following the departure of his former Liverpool team-mate Sammy Lee in October 2007 but later pulled out of the running when it became apparent that the job was set to be given to Gary Megson.[41] At around the same time he was linked with taking over the Republic of Ireland national football team.[42]

In January 2008, Souness announced he would be willing to return to Newcastle United as manager, following the departure of Sam Allardyce and the arrival of the club's new ownership and board. However, United only interviewed Harry Redknapp and Kevin Keegan for the position, with Kevin Keegan soon after being appointed with the job; Souness's interest has never been publicly acknowledged by the club.[43][44]

Following the sacking of Blackburn Rovers manager Paul Ince on 16 December 2008, Souness was heavily linked with a return to the club as manager.[45] However, Sam Allardyce was appointed as the new manager on 17 December, after Souness claimed to have had no contact at all from Blackburn about the position.[46]

Following the sacking of Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate on 21 October 2009, Souness was one of the names linked with the vacant manager's position. Gordon Strachan became the new manager.

Having been linked with the Scotland national football team in November 2009, Souness stated he has no desire to return to management at any level.[47]

Potential career as a football club owner

Souness has been reportedly looking to purchase and run a football club. In January 2007, he was reported by the Daily Mirror to be heading a £20million consortium to take over Wolverhampton Wanderers. He attended a Wolves game as a VIP guest, and made a formal offer for the club, asking to see the club's finances. Wolves' chief executive Jez Moxey initially denied this offer, but Souness insisted to the Express & Star newspaper that he had made an offer for the club. The bid was rejected by the Wolves board, who felt it undervalued the club.[48] Souness did not make a repeat offer for the club and it was later sold to another investor.


In 1985, Souness wrote an autobiography called No Half Measures. In 1999 he wrote another book chronicling his post-playing career up to and including his spell at Southampton, entitled Souness: The Management Years.

Souness's life and views outside football

Private life

Souness's first wife was Danielle Wilson, a millionaire's daughter; they met in 1982 and married in 1984. He adopted her young daughter as his own, and later had three children together. However, they separated in 1989 and divorced later.[49]

Souness has been married to Karen Souness, his second wife, since 1994. Together, the couple have a son, James. Souness has three other children – Chantelle, Fraser and Jordan – from his previous marriage and two stepchildren – Daniel and Lauren – from Karen's previous relationship.[50] Lauren works at al-Jazeera as a sports presenter.[51]

In 2010, Souness sold the family home in Colinton to Fred Goodwin,[52] and moved to a newly developed property in Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset.[53]

Political views

Souness's political views have, at various points in his career, generated comment.

In 1982, Souness and team-mate Sammy Lee made cameo appearances, as themselves, in an episode of the BBC's Liverpudlian drama series Boys from the Blackstuff. Written by Alan Bleasdale, the series offered a critique of Thatcherism – and in particular the large-scale unemployment then evident in urban Britain – apparently at odds with Souness's own Conservative politics.[54]

In 2007, in the lead-up to elections to the Scottish Parliament, Souness was one of 15 prominent current and former footballers named in a newspaper advertisement as opponents of Scottish independence.[55]



Tottenham Hotspur




Blackburn Rovers

Personal honours

Inducted into the Scotland national football team roll of honour in 1985.

In 1998 Souness was included in the Football League 100 Legends list.

A poll of 110,000 Liverpool supporters – 100 Players Who Shook The Kop,[56] saw Souness placed the ninth most popular player in the club's history.

Souness was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2007 in recognition of his contribution to the game

Souness is one of 71 players elected to Rangers' official Hall of Fame.

Souness is one of 24 players qualifying for the Scottish national team Hall of Fame.

Managerial statistics

Team Nat From To Record
G W D L Win %
Rangers 23x15px SCO 1 April 1986 16 April 1991 260 165 50 45 63.46
Liverpool 23x15px ENG 16 April 1991 28 January 1994 157 65 47 45 41.40
Galatasaray 23x15px TUR 1 July 1995 1 July 1996 43 25 10 8 58.14
Southampton 23x15px ENG 3 July 1996 1 June 1997 48 14 15 19 29.17
Torino 23x15px ITA 5 July 1997 12 October 1997 6 2 1 3 33.33
Benfica 23x15px POR 2 November 1997 3 May 1999 71 41 15 15 57.75
Blackburn Rovers 23x15px ENG 14 March 2000 6 September 2004 212 86 61 65 40.57
Newcastle United 23x15px ENG 13 September 2004 2 February 2006 83 36 18 29 43.37
Total 880 434 217 229 49.32


  1. ^ Pulling at Hearts' strings
  2. ^ "Focus on Graeme Souness from Shoot! 1986". LFC History. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  3. ^ Player Profile
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  • Graeme Souness & Mike Ellis (1999). Souness: The Management Years. Andre Deutsch. ISBN 0-233-99738-5. 
  • Graeme Souness & Bob Harris (1987). No Half Measures. Grafton Books. ISBN 0-586-07424-4. 

External links

Preceded by
Phil Thompson
Liverpool captain
Succeeded by
Alan Hansen
Preceded by
Archie Gemmill
Scotland captain
Succeeded by
Roy Aitken

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