- Family statement: ‘He’s now at peace and in no more pain’
- Clemence won three European Cups and five league titles
Andy Hunter – The Guardian
Ray Clemence dives to make a save for Liverpool against Manchester United in the 1977 Charity Shield. Photograph: Colorsport/Shutterstock
Tributes have poured in for the former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Ray Clemence, who has died at the age of 72.
Clemence was one of the finest goalkeepers of his generation and enjoyed a trophy-laden career at Anfield after being signed by Bill Shankly for £18,000 from Scunthorpe United in 1967. He also won 61 England caps, a total that would have been much greater but for the competition from Peter Shilton. England are due to wear black armbands in tribute to their former number one and goalkeeping coach in Sunday night’s Nations League game against Belgium. A full tribute will be paid before Wednesday’s game with Iceland at Wembley.
The Skegness-born goalkeeper had cancer for many years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005 and also had treatment for a brain tumour.
“With great sadness, we write to let you know that Ray Clemence passed away peacefully today, surrounded by his loving family,” said a statement from the Clemence family on Sunday. “After fighting so hard, for such a long time, he’s now at peace and in no more pain. 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.”
Liverpool announced the club was “deeply saddened by the passing of one of the greatest ever goalkeepers, Ray Clemence. The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Ray’s family and many friends.” Clemence is widely regarded as the best goalkeeper in Liverpool’s history. In an illustrious 13 year-career at Anfield, totalling 665 appearances, he won three European Cups, five league titles, two Uefa Cups, an FA Cup and League Cup. Having replaced Tommy Lawrence as Shankly’s first choice during the 1969-70 campaign he missed only six league games over the following 11 seasons. He was ever-present in 1978-79 when Liverpool conceded merely 16 goals in 42 games, a club record.
“Today we have lost a true legend,” Sir Kenny Dalglish tweeted. “Clem was a fantastic teammate and great to be around. I will never forget how he helped me to settle in at Anfield. Our thoughts are with the Clemence family. RIP Clem.” Phil Thompson wrote on Twitter: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Ray Clemence, my eyes and ears as a teammate, And oh what a keeper. Love to Vee and all the family. YNWA.”
Liverpool’s current manager, Jürgen Klopp, said: “You only need to listen to the legends of LFC from his era to understand his significance. They say it better than I ever could, that Ray Clemence is one of the reasons our club is such a special one all these years later. He was one of the foundation stones that so much of this club’s success was built on. Our feeling in this moment is of course overwhelmingly sadness, but it is also appreciation.”
Clemence joined Spurs for £300,000 in 1981 and won the Uefa Cup and FA Cup during seven years at White Hart Lane. His former teammate 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.” Following his retirement as a player Clemence joined the coaching staff at Spurs. In 1996 he became England’s goalkeeping coach and worked for Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan, Sven Göran-Eriksson and Steve McClaren in a long-serving international career. He was also head of the Football Association’s head of development team.
Eriksson told Sky Sports: “As a player he was one of the best ever, to work together with him was fantastic, which was why I was very keen to keep him when I was manager of England. He was positive, happy, he spread good humour and was very skilful in what he was doing.
“Sometimes at the beginning he chose [England’s goalkeeper] and I was sure he was right, I trusted him 110%. He was a great man for me, not only professionally but personally and we became close friends.” Clemence is survived by his wife, Veronica, son Stephen – a former player himself and now a coach – and daughters Sarah and Julie.