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Mark Thomas Lawrenson (born 2 June 1957) is a former professional football player, a defender in the Liverpool and Irish football teams of the 1980s; he has since become a radio, television and internet pundit for the BBC and Today FM. Despite being born in Englandmarker, he played for the Republic of Ireland due to his Irishmarker ancestry.

Football career

Preston and Brighton

Mark Lawrenson was born in Penworthammarker and attended Preston Catholic College, a Jesuit school. His father, Tom, had been a winger for Preston North End. He always wanted to be a footballer, although his mother, Theresa, wanted him to become a priest. He began his career, as a 17 year-old, with his hometown club, Preston North End in 1974 who were then managed by World Cup winner Bobby Charlton. His solid performances earned him a call-up to the Republic of Irelandmarker national squad winning the first of 39 international caps at the age of 19. Johnny Giles found out that Lawrenson qualified to play for Ireland through his grandfather and promptly acted to give him his debut on the 24 April 1977 at Dalymount Parkmarker in a friendly with Poland, the game ended 0-0. His season was made complete when he was voted Preston's Player of the Year for the 1976/77 season.

After 73 league appearances for the Deepdalemarker club he moved to Alan Mullery's Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer before the start of the 1977/78 season for £100,000, ironically, they outbid Liverpool who also showed interest in the 19 year-old Lawrenson. Lawrenson made his Brighton debut on the 20 August 1977 in a 1-1 draw against Southampton at The Dellmarker. He settled in at the Goldstone Groundmarker and made 40 league appearances by the end of his first season of the club. He went on to make 152 league appearances by the end of 1980/81, However the club entered a financial crisis during in 1981 and Lawrenson was forced to leave the club to make funds available. Many clubs were interested in signing Lawrenson after his resilient performances for both Preston and Brighton, but it was Liverpool manager Bob Paisley that, finally, got his signature.

Liverpool

Liverpool offered a club transfer record of £900,000, and Lawrenson joined in the summer of 1981. He was to form a formidable central defensive partnership with Alan Hansen after Phil Thompson suffered an injury, although he was also used frequently at full back or in midfield.

Lawrenson made his first start for the team at left-back in a 1-0 league defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on the 29 August '81. He scored his first goal a month later during the 7-0 European Cup 1st round 2nd leg trouncing of Finnishmarker team Oulun Palloseura at Anfieldmarker on the 30 September. Lawrenson came on for Ray Kennedy in the 64th minute scoring in the 72nd. Also coming off the bench to score his first goal for the club was Ian Rush.

In Lawrenson's first season, Liverpool won the League championship and the League Cup before winning it again in 1982 and retaining both for another two seasons, becoming only the third club in history to win three titles in a row. They also added the club's fourth European Cup in 1984, the last time Liverpool would win this honour until 2005.

Lawrenson then dislocated his shoulder about three weeks before the 1985 European Cup final, the Heysel Stadium Disastermarker. He started the game but took a knock after a few minutes and had to be substituted off.

Lawrenson and Hansen had become considered by some as the best central defensive partnership in English football by the time Liverpool clinched the League and FA Cup "double" in 1986. Mark earned a reputation as a fully accomplished player and was often called a chopper by his Liverpool teammates and fans alike, In doing so Liverpool rose above derby rivals Everton into second place in the league by just two points. Liverpool then came from behind to win 3-1 in the derby Cup final at Wembleymarker. By now, Lawrenson's first team place was under serious threat from the younger Gary Gillespie. Lawrenson's partnership with team captain Hansen continued for one more season before he, already out through a minor injury, suffered Achilles tendon damage in 1988 which prematurely ended his career. He earned a fifth and final title medal when that season ended.

His Liverpool career ended after 332 appearances and 18 goals in all competitions - one of which was the "forgotten fifth" in a 5-0 thumping of Merseyside rivals Everton on the 6 November 1982, a game in which Ian Rush took most of the headlines by scoring four of the five goals and a place in Anfieldmarker folklore.

In 1989, he spent one season with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the American Soccer League.

Management

After his time at Liverpool, he was appointed Oxford United manager in 1988. His time at the club was frustrating and he resigned after star striker Dean Saunders was sold by the board of directors, without Lawrenson's approval.

Lawrenson also managed Peterborough United from 6 September 1989 until 9 November 1990. However, his spell in charge was mostly unsuccessful, even though he was popular amongst the younger players, and built the side which won promotion 1990–91 under subsequent manager Chris Turner.

Honours



Career statistics

[68043]



Media career

Lawrenson began his television career providing match analysis on HTV West'slocal football coverage, before working as a pundit for the BBC but then left briefly to become a coach specialising in defensive tactics for Kevin Keeganat Newcastle United. However, the position was again short-lived, when he quickly returned to media work. He has since become established as one of the most prominent pundits and commentators of the game, both on BBC television and radio coverage, often finding himself sitting alongside his former defensive partner, Alan Hansen, and, since the departure from the BBC of Trevor Brooking, he has assumed the main co-commentator on major national and international (FIFA) matches covered by the television network. He appears regularly on Football Focusand Match of the Day.

He is also often a co-commentator on BBC Radio Five Live, often working on the feature matches on Sunday afternoons. He previously worked as a pundit for TV3 in Irelandmarker for mid-week Champions League games alongside Welshmarker national (FA) team manager and former Liverpool striker, John Toshack.He currently works on Today FMon 'Premiership Live' for comedy value. He joins presenter Michael McMullanin talking about football related topics, predicting scores and stating interesting facts. He also has a column on the BBC website where he gives his views and predictions on the Premier League's weekend fixtures. There is much criticism amongst viewers of his 'big 4' bias.

He also appears on The Russell Howard & Jon Richardson showon BBC 6 Musicin a feature called "Lawro's Top Three" where he randomly chooses 3 objects or items and the presenters have to guess which order his top 3 go in. Recently however Lawro has become "bored" of this and instead has a weekly feature in which Lawrenson embarks upon a "choose your own adventure" style quest entitled "Lawro and the Warlocks of Doom".

One of his most memorable moments as a pundit was when he shaved off his trademark moustache after betting on Football Focus that Boltonwould be relegated from the Premiership in the 2001–2002 season, a classic incorrect prediction. He was ultimately proved wrong by Sam Allardyce's team and kept his word by shaving off the moustache.

He also writes a regular PNE (Preston North End) column for the University of Central Lancashiremarker's Students' Union newspaper, Pluto and a weekly column for the Liverpool Daily Post newspaper.He recently worked with Japanese entertainment company Konami, recording samples for the video game Pro Evolution Soccer 2008, alongside ITVand Setanta Sportscommentator Jon Champion. However, many fans of the game were of the opinion that Lawrenson's commentary sounded "plastic" or "scripted". Konami have said they are considering reviewing Lawrenson's involvement in the next edition of the game. Lawrenson is said to be very unhappy with Konami's comments and is considering legal action.

References

External links



1974-75 Preston North End Third Division 3 0
1975-76 24 0
1976-77 46 2
1977-78 Brighton & Hove Albion Second Division 40 1
1978-79 39 2
1979-80 First Division 33 1
1980-81 40 1
1981-82 Liverpool First Division 39 2
1982-83 40 5
1983-84 42 0
1984-85 33 1
1985-86 38 3
1986-87 35 0
1987-88 14 0
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