Greatest Bill Shankly Quotes, a Complete Collection

Thu 04 November 2021 | 17:30

One of football's greatest heroes, the former coal-miner from Ayrshire gave his life to football to build up a family and philosophy in Liverpool. Along with Bob Paisley, Shankly was responsible for much of Liverpool’s success.

A fine player, whose career was interrupted by the Second World War, Bill Shankly was one of Britain’s most successful and respected football managers. The Scot legend took Liverpool from the English second division to win three English top-division league titles.

Despite representing Scotland national team and

Preston North End

, ‘Shanks’ is most remembered, however, for his achievements as a manager, particularly with Liverpool. Shankly took charge of Liverpool when they were bottom of the Second Division but soon established them as one of the major forces in the English game.

Liverpool had suffered a period of decline in the 50s, after having won five league titles in the first half of the century, and was at this time languishing in the Second Division, with a crumbling stadium, poor training facilities, and a large pool of untalented players. Shankly released 24 of these players when he was appointed as the manager in 1959, and converted a storage room into a room for tactical discussion, where Shankly, along with other Boot Room founding members Joe Fagan, Reuben Bennett and Bob Paisley began to reshape the team.

In building not only a family, but a philosophy that been passed on through generation in Liverpool, Shankly left more than a few lines for world to wonder on their wiseness, or even humor.

A Complete Collection of the Greatest Bill Shankly Quotes

Shankly not only left inspirational quotes but also humorous and philosophical ones to motivate a football generation and managers, including

Sir Alex Ferguson

, as the Red Devils iconic manager infamously used to play Shankly voice in Manchester United bus.

When filling in a hotel registration form on a European trip, Shankly wrote ‘Football’ for occupation and ‘Anfield’ as his address, that was how Shanks felt about Liverpool. The receptionist asked him to fill in his full address and he replied:

“Lady, in Liverpool there is only one address that matters and that is where I live


Now it’s time to take a look at our complete collection of the

greatest Bill Shankly quotes


Bill Shankly Inspirational Quotes on Life

Having grown up in a remote and poverty-stricken village in


, Shankly had a keen sense of what made a life worth living. In an interview held during a Liverpool training session, he revealed his most treasured character trait in a person:

“It’s the greatest thing in the world, natural enthusiasm. You’re nothing without it


“Aim for the sky and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor.”

After winning the FA Cup in 1974 Shankly goes into a fish and chip shop and orders a fish supper. The woman at the counter asks:

“Mr. Shankly, shouldn't they be having steak suppers?”

Shanks replied:

“No lass, they'll get steak suppers when they win the double


Bill Shankly Famous Quotes on Football

One of the unique aspects of Shankly’s philosophy was his view on football, how important it is to society, and how you can succeed in it. The holy triangle he believes in and the most commonly used quote on supporting a club.

Here in the greatest Bill Shankly quotes, we gather you ones you should read, whether you’re a Liverpool fan or a general football fan.

“If you can't support us when we lose or draw, don't support us when we win”

“If you are first you are first. If you are second you are nothing.”

“At a football club, there’s a holy trinity: the players, the manager and the supporters. Directors don’t come into it. They are only there to sign the cheques.”

“Some people think football [soccer] is a matter of life and death. I don't like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

That Damn Piano, That Simple Football

A huge part of the

greatest Bill Shankly quotes

are about his opinions on football as not only a game, but something more important than life.

“A football team is like a piano. You need eight men to carry it and three who can play the damn thing.”

“Football is a simple game based on the giving and taking of passes, of controlling the ball and of making yourself available to receive a pass. It is terribly simple.”

“a lot of football success is in the mind. you must believe you are the best and then make sure that you are.”

“What a great day for football, all we need is some green grass and a ball.”

After a 0-0 draw at Anfield:

“What can you do playing against 11 goalposts!”

“Don’t just be in the First Division, go and win it. Keep playing like that and you can win the championship.”

On Liverpool and Iconic ‘This is Anfield’ Sign

The ‘This Is Anfield’ sign was first installed by Bill Shankly, but the concept was not one of his own making. It is not just a casual motto nor is it a marketing ploy, the words resonate to both players and fans alike and have done so for over half a century.

The original sign which was recommended said, ‘

Welcome to Anfield

’. However, Shankly opposed the idea, he said:

“No. ‘We’re not having that, you’re not here to have a good time, you’re not here to have a nice day, let’s have This Is Anfield.”

“it’s there to remind our lads who they’re playing for and to remind the opposition who they’re playing against.”

“Liverpool was made for me and I was made for Liverpool.”

Continuing through the greatest Bill Shankly quotes, we observe the foundation of the

Liverpool Football Club

as the ‘This is Anfield’ sign sings the prelude to the ‘invincible Liverpool’ Shankly built at Liverpool.

 “I want to build a team that’s invincible, so that they have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us.”

“My idea was to build Liverpool into a bastion of invincibility. Had Napoleon had that idea he would have conquered the bloody world. I wanted Liverpool to be untouchable. My idea was to build Liverpool up and up until eventually everyone would have to submit and give in.”

“Although I’m a Scot, I’d be proud to be called a Scouser [Liverpool-born].”

“Forget the Beatles and all the rest. This is the real Liverpool sound. It's real singing, and it's what the Kop is all about.”

To a translator, when being surrounded by gesticulating Italian journalists ahead of a European Cup clash against Inter:

“Just tell them I completely disagree with everything they say


Man of the People; Greatest Bill Shankly Quotes on Life, Politics, and Socialism

Shankly was well known for his socialist values, and his statue at Anfield proclaiming, ‘He made the people happy!’ sums the man up perfectly. Stories of the Scot turning up at events and socialising with fans are legendary, with many asking how he found the time in between football and family life to be such a public figure. Many fans see football as ‘a religion, a way of life’, Shankly understood and tapped into this.

“Above all, I would like to be remembered as a man who was selfless, who strove and worried so that others could share the glory, and who built up a family of people who could hold their heads up high and say 'We're Liverpool'.”

 “Since I came here to Liverpool, and to Anfield, I have drummed it into our players time and again that they are privileged to play for you. And if they didn’t believe me, they believe me now”

“Team spirit is a form of socialism. I’m my own politics – I don’t go in for politics. But that kind of forms a camaraderie and it us a basis for socialism. When you hear people running down fellas that are socialists I think they are wrong. They don’t know what they are talking about…..I’m talking life. I’m not talking about politics in the true sense of politics….. I’m talking about humanity. People dealing with people and people helping people.”

“I was only in the game for the love of football – and I wanted to bring back happiness to the people of Liverpool.”

“The socialism I believe in isn't really politics. It is a way of living. It is humanity. I believe the only way to live and to be truly successful is by collective effort, with everyone working for each other, everyone helping each other, and everyone having a share of the rewards at the end of the day. That might be asking a lot, but it's the way I see football and the way I see life.”

“Train the right way. Help each other. It's a form of socialism without the politics.”

“If you’re a member of The Kop, you feel as though you’re a member of a big society, where you’ve got thousands of friends all about you. They’re united and loyal”

“If you can’t make decisions in life, you’re a bloody menace. You’d be better becoming an MP [Member of Parliament]!”

On Everton; Banters

Never to shy away from laughing at their local rivals,


, a number of the greatest Bill Shankly quotes on this list show his mischievous and humorous side.

“In my time at Anfield we always said we had the best two teams on Merseyside, Liverpool and Liverpool reserves.”

“When I’ve nothing better to do, I look down the league table to see how Everton are getting along.”

As a close friend of the Everton great, Dixie Dean, Shankly couldn’t help but tease the opposing team once more at Dixie’s funeral: “I know this is a sad occasion but I think that Dixie would be amazed to know that even in death, he could draw a bigger crowd than Everton can on a Saturday afternoon.”

“The difference between Everton and the Queen Mary is that Everton carry more passengers!”

“If Everton were playing down the bottom of my garden, I'd draw the curtains.”

Waiting for Everton's arrival for a derby game at Anfield, Shankly gave a box of toilet rolls to the doorman and said:

“Give them these when they arrive - they'll need them!”

“I always look in the Sunday paper to see where Everton are in the league - starting, of course, from the bottom up.”

However, Shankly was quite proud of the rivalry.

“I’ve seen supporters on Merseyside going to the ground together, one wearing red and white and the other blue and white, which is unusual elsewhere. You get families in Liverpool in which half support Liverpool and the other half Everton. They support rival teams but they have the same temperament and they know each other. They are unique in the sense that their rivalry is so great but there is no real aggro between them. This is quite amazing. But I’ve never seen a fight at a derby game. Shouting and bawling … yes. But they don’t fight each other. And that says a lot for them.” 

On Players

“For a player to be good enough to play for Liverpool, he must be prepared to run through a brick wall for me then come out fighting on the other side.”

“If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be.”

“If you’re not sure what to do with the ball, just pop it in the net and we’ll discuss your options afterwards.”

When Tommy Smith tried to explain his injured knee:

“Take that bandage off. And what do you mean about your knee? It’s Liverpool’s knee


He said to Ian St John when he signed for Liverpool:

“Son, you'll do well here as long as you remember two things. Don't over-eat and don't lose your accent


On Liverpool legend, Roger Hunt, he said:

“Yes Roger Hunt misses a few, but he gets in the right place to miss them


On his solid defender, Tommy Smith: “

Tommy Smith wasn’t born, he was quarried


On Ian St. John:

“He’s not just the best centre-forward in the British Isles, but the only one


“Fire in your belly comes from pride and passion in wearing the red shirt. We don't need to motivate players because each of them is responsible for the performance of the team as a whole. The status of Liverpool's players keeps them motivated.”

“Ian Callaghan is everything good that a man can be. No praise is too high for him. Words cannot do justice to the amount he has contributed to the game. Ian Callaghan will go down as one of the game's truly great players.”

Praising Rivals

Although the Scot was well known for his firy touches, he wasn’t shy to praise rivals over his time at Anfield and some of them found their way to our collection of the

greatest Bill Shankly quotes



Matt Busby

is without the doubt the greatest manager that ever lived. I am not saying I THINK he is the greatest manager, I am saying he IS the greatest manager. Facts can prove that."

About Brian Clough:

"He's worse than the rain in Manchester. At least the rain in Manchester stops occasionally


On England and Preston North End legend, Tom Finney:

“Tom Finney would have been great in any team, in any match and in any age, even if he had been wearing an overcoat.”

“I have always had the deepest respect for Bill Nicholson as a person and as a manager. The Spurs boss is an honest Yorkshireman and you will go a long way before finding a straighter character than that. Bill has never wavered in his determination to give White Hart Lane fans the best.”

 On Referees and Rules

“The trouble with referees is that they know the rules, but they do not know the game.”

Explaining on what the offside rule should be:

“If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be [offside]


On Pressure

“Pressure is working down the pit. Pressure is having no work at all. Pressure is trying to escape relegation on 50 shillings a week. Pressure is not the European Cup or the Championship or the Cup Final. That’s the reward.”

“No football club is ever successful without hard work. If everyone thinks along these lines and does the small jobs to the best of their ability, then the world will be better.”

To a journalist who suggested Liverpool were struggling:

“Ay, here we are with problems at the top of the league


On His Resignation

Shankly’s resignation in 1974 was a bombshell that shocked the club and the city. Questions still surround why Shankly chose to step down, although his grandson has suggested it was due to Shankly wanting to spend more time with his family.

However, he described his feeling saying:

“It was the most difficult thing in the world, when I went to tell the chairman. It was like walking to the electric chair. That’s the way it felt.”

Quotes About Bill Shankly

As one of the most celebrated persons in football history, there were many players and managers to pay tribute to Liverpool’s iconic boss.

George Best


“Bill Shankly, like Matt Busby, was a canny Scot who was never lost for words. I liked him a great deal and I know he liked me. I respected his knowledge of the game and loved his keen wit, which was as sharp as legend has it”.

Bob Paisley was a member of the Liverpool coaching staff, working alongside Bill Shankly when he managed Liverpool FC before becoming his successor. He said on his ‘master’:

“You had to learn from Bill. He was football crazy, and I mean crazy. He was fanatical, like no-one else I met. If I had to sum up Bill’s effect on Anfield it’s quite simple that he got the whole thing going. We were nothing before he came, and look at us now. He’s very sadly missed”.

Kevin Keegan:

“Bill gave everyone connected with the club great belief and principles. Everyone counted for something, whether you were the kitman or you cut the grass. I played for a lot of good managers but none were in the same country, let along the same street, as Bill”.

Brendan Rodgers:

“When you take the job of manager of this great sporting institution, you are fully aware that you are following in the footsteps of true giants. There is no-one more fitting of the phrase ‘greatness’ than Bill Shankly, and his influence is as strong today as it has ever been”.

Rafa Benitez:

“When people talk about the “Liverpool Way”, it was always to win. We try to do this and that is our priority if possible. We try to do things properly, like Shankly did”.

Now that you read our list of Greatest Bill Shankly Quotes, you might as well like to read these articles by Sportmob.

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