Belfast Telegraph

Ray Clemence leads tributes to former Liverpool colleague Tommy Lawrence

Ray Clemence led the tributes to his old Liverpool colleague Tommy Lawrence after the club announced their former goalkeeper had died aged 77.

Lawrence, who was one of the first in his position to be deployed as a 'sweeper-keeper', won two league titles and an FA Cup under Bill Shankly, and made 390 appearances for the Reds.

Nicknamed 'The Flying Pig' due to his athleticism despite his stocky build, Lawrence's consistency ensured a young Clemence had to wait two and a half years before replacing him in the first team at Anfield.

Clemence, who won 61 caps with England, wrote on Twitter: "Sad to hear of the passing of @LFC legend Tommy Lawrence.

"A gentleman who I had the privilege of training with. I learnt so much about being a sweeper keeper from him My thoughts are with his family RIP Tommy #YNWA."

Phil Thompson, a three-time European Cup winner with the Reds in the 1970s and 80s, added on his account: "So sad to hear one of my heroes has passed away. Tommy Lawrence you were a trailblazer for our club a true gentleman RIP mate."

Liverpool's current goalkeeper Simon Mignolet wrote on social media: " RIP Tommy #GKUnion."

Ex-Reds striker Michael Owen was among many who shared a clip of Lawrence from three years ago when a BBC reporter was asking passers-by if they remembered a 1967 Merseyside derby.

"That's right, I do," Lawrence replied. "I played in it. I was (the) goalkeeper for Liverpool!"

Lawrence was born in Scotland but moved to England as a youngster and joined Liverpool as an apprentice, eventually signing professional forms a few months after his 17th birthday in 1957.

He was a regular for eight years in the first great side Shankly built and would only miss four league matches between 1963 and 1969.

Lawrence left Liverpool for Tranmere in 1971 and would go on to feature for non-league Chorley too before working as a factory quality controller in Warrington.

Roy Evans, the former Liverpool coach and manager who was a player during Lawrence's time at the club, paid tribute to the "gentleman" he viewed as a pioneer.

Evans told liverpoolfc.com: "He actually worked it out for himself that if we were going to push further up the pitch and close people down, Tommy was alive and alert to that.

"Tommy was an under-rated goalkeeper in many ways. He had the nickname 'The Flying Pig' but Tommy was a really good goalkeeper and his positional sense was great.

"He was a guy who was so humble and he didn't think of himself as better than anybody else.

"Tommy never thought about himself and he was just a really happy-go-lucky lad, and that's the way I will remember him.

"We will all miss him. I just hope people realise just what a great servant he was to Liverpool for many years and what a great guy he was. Tommy was a gentleman but a gentleman with fun."

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