JOE's ode to John Aldridge on his 55th birthday 7 years ago

JOE's ode to John Aldridge on his 55th birthday

John Aldridge is fifty flippin' five today!

John Aldridge is the quintessential Scouser. With an accent so raw it should have its own TV series and with a 'ronnie' which is probably more synonymous with Liverpool than the Liver bird itself, the man who oozes Scouse blood and donned the green jersey of Ireland with considerable aplomb is fifty five today and we decided to look back at his fantastic career.

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Amazing - His goal-scoring record was quite phenomenal. You could argue he wasn't as prolific at international level, but 19 goals in 69 internationals isn't the worst record ever. People forget that he often ran himself into the ground for Ireland under Jack Charlton so it's a wonder he had any energy at all to get into the box.

His club career spanned clubs such as Newport County, Oxford United, Liverpool, Real Sociedad and Tranmere Rovers. In 673 appearances he scored 363 goals, a fantastic total in anyone's book. Here he is doing what he did best:

Liverpool - The club he supported as a child, the club which was, and still is, ingrained in his heart. He earned a dream move to the Reds following a great spell at lowly Oxford United and went on to score a hugely impressive total of 50 goals in just 83 appearances for the Anfield club. He was always in the shadow of Ian Rush, the man he was brought in to replace, but his scoring record was every bit as good as the Welshman's.

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He was massively undervalued at Liverpool and here you can tell how painful it was for him when he realised that his time was up at Anfield:

Dedication and passion - No matter who John Aldridge was playing for, he gave it everything he had. People scoffed at the thought of Jack Charlton bringing both Aldridge and Ray Houghton into the fold with Ireland, but both players went on to become Irish footballing legends. Nobody was more proud to play for Ireland than John Aldridge and nowhere is this better illustrated than in this infamous clip from the 1994 World Cup of 1994 in the US.

With Ireland trailing 1-0 to Mexico in the blazing heat of Orlando, Aldridge is being brought on as a substitute.  Mexico score a second goal as Aldridge waits to be brought in. This altercation with the FIFA official on the sideline will always have a place in Irish footballing folklore. He then shows exactly what Ireland was missing with a typically predatory goal:

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Overseas: Not many players from English football travelled abroad to ply their trade, but Aldridge, after finding he was surplus to requirements at Liverpool, signed for Real Sociedad in La Liga. Not only did he go abroad, but he went and had a highly successful spell with the Basque club. He became the first non-Basque ever to sign for Sociedad, but in two years and 63 games, he scored a hugely impressive 33 goals.

Here he is helping Sociedad to a historic first ever win at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid:

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John Aldridge was never the most gifted of players, but he was a phenomenal goal scorer and remains a Liverpool and Ireland legend. Happy Birthday Aldo!