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Peter Andrew Beardsley MBE (born 18 January 1961, Newcastle upon Tynemarker) is an Englishmarker former footballer of the 1980s and 1990s, who once set a record transfer fee in the game and represented his country 59 times between 1986 and 1996, once as captain.

Club career

Early career

A product of the famous Wallsend Boys Club in North Tyneside, Beardsley was released as a teenager by hometown club Newcastle United and began his professional career with Carlisle United in 1978. He managed 22 goals in 104 league games (helping them win promotion to the Second Division at the end of the 1981-82 season) before he was transferred to Canadianmarker club Vancouver Whitecaps on 9 September 1982.

But just weeks after arriving in Canada, he was on his way back to England when Ron Atkinson paid £250,000 to take him to Manchester United. He made just one first team appearance for United in a Football League Cup tie against AFC Bournemouth before returning to Vancouver on a free transfer on 1 March 1983 but again his stay in North America was a short one. He was on the move once again on 23 September 1983, this time to rejoin Newcastle.

Newcastle United

Beardsley signed for Newcastle for a fee of £150,000, although when they had let him go earlier they could have signed him for nothing. The pacey, incisive and skillful forward made his debut for the Magpies the day after he signed, 24 September, in the 1–1 2nd division draw with Barnsley at Oakwellmarker. Beardsley was an instant hit with the Newcastle supporters, scoring and setting up spectacular goal. He went on to celebrate promotion with his team-mates, who were captained by Kevin Keegan in his final season as a player. They finished in the final promotion spot behind winners Chelsea and runners-up Sheffield Wednesday. He scored 20 league goals that season and formed an exciting strike partnership with former England striker Kevin Keegan who had also won major honours with Liverpool. Beardsley's career would have echoes of that enjoyed by Keegan, who retired at the end of that promotion campaign.

Beardsley scored his first goal for the Magpies on 19 October 1983 in their 2–0 victory over Cardiff City at Ninian Parkmarker. His first goals at St James' Parkmarker came in Newcastle's next fixture, against Manchester City. United beat City 5–0 and Beardsley scored his first ever hat-trick.

In his first season in the First Division division, Beardsley scored 17 goals in 38 league games as Newcastle finished in 14th position. During the following campaign he played in all of Newcastle's 42 league matches, scoring 19 goals. In one fixture against West Ham United, Beardsley ended the game as a stand-in goalkeeper. The game ended in an 8-1 defeat for Newcastle, with Beardsley concededing the last 3 goals. However, apart from a brief run of fine form early in the 1985-86 season which saw a few observers tip them as dark horses in the title race, Newcastle never looked like winning anything major during Beardsley's first spell in the team, and he was soon being targeted by bigger clubs.

Upon returning from the 1986 World Cup, Beardsley helped Newcastle to another mid-table finish (11th), scoring 11 goals in 27 appearances, and won a further six caps for his country, before Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish made a national record £1.9million offer to Newcastle for Beardsley's services. Manager Willie McFaul accepted the offer and Beardsley was on his way to Merseyside after four seasons on Tynesidemarker which had brought a total of a 61 goals (all in the league), his transfer completed on 30 June 1987.

12 years later, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson revealed in his autobiography that he had made a £2million bid for Beardsley, but McFaul had rejected the offer and told him that he wouldn't sell the player even if Ferguson offered £3million.

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Liverpool

Beardsley joined Liverpool at the same time as John Barnes, the Watford winger who would be voted PFA Player of the Year for the 1987-88 season. They were added to John Aldridge, who had signed during the previous campaign, with the three tearing Arsenal apart on Beardsley's debut at Highburymarker for Aldridge to score after just nine minutes of the opening day of the 1987–88 season, 15 August 1987. Liverpool went on to win 2–1 and this would shape the rest of the season for the Reds. The new-look striker partnership of Beardsley and Aldridge took over from the long-standing partnership of Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, which was arguably the most successful partnership in English football during the 1980s. Rush had departed to Juventus of Italymarker, while player-manager Kenny Dalglish had decided only to make occasional first-team appearances from then on. Aldridge had signed during the 1986-87 season as Dalglish prepared to build his new strikeforce.

Beardsley's first goal for his new club came on 29 August 1987 in the 4–1 victory over Coventry City at Highfield Roadmarker, with Beardsley scoring in the 83rd minute. He helped Liverpool to a record-equalling 29 league matches undefeated as Liverpool convincingly strolled to the League title with just two defeats to their name. However, there was disappointment at the end when Wimbledon denied them the 'double' with a shock 1–0 win in the FA Cup final, a game in which Beardsley "scored", only for it to be ruled out by the referee who awarded Liverpool a free-kick for an earlier foul instead of allowing play to continue. Beardsley scored 15 league goals in his first season for Liverpool, level with John Barnes as the club's highest scorer behind John Aldridge.

Rush rejoined the club in the 1988 close season and Liverpool returned to Wembleymarker and won the FA Cup the following year, but lost their League championship with virtually the last kick of the last game of the season against Arsenal. Although Rush missed 14 games due to injury, when all three of Liverpool's strikers were fit, Dalglish played with a 4-3-3 formation that allowed Beardsley, Aldridge and Rush to play alongside each other. Beardsley scored 11 league goals that season.

In April 1989, after the Hillsborough disaster claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans, Beardsley was among many Liverpool stars left distraught by the tragedy, attending several funerals and visiting the injured in hospital. It is thought that when Beardsley hit Forest's crossbar in the opening exchanges of the game it caused more fans to surge into the stadium upon hearing the excitement from outside, thus escalating the crush. He was part of the team that won the FA Cup that season with a 3-2 win over neighbours Everton at Wembley Stadiummarker, though the league title slipped away on the final day of the season when Liverpool conceded a last minute goal to champions Arsenal at Anfield.

With the departure of John Aldridge a few weeks into the 1989-90 season, Dalglish reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Beardsley and Rush as his main strikers, with Beardsley scoring 10 goals in 29 games.

Liverpool did win the championship again that season, but the arrival of Israeli international striker Ronny Rosenthal saw his first team opportunities limited in the title run-in, in which Liverpool overcame a strong challenge by Aston Villa to finish champions by a nine-point margin. Despite UEFA lifting the ban on English clubs in European competitions for the 1990-91 season, Liverpool were unable to compete in the European Cup as (being the team present at the Heysel disastermarker that had sparked the ban in 1985) they had to serve an extra year of the ban before being allowed to play in European competitions again.

Beardsley suffered another blow to his first team chances in January 1991 when Kenny Dalglish brought in David Speedie. Dalglish stepped down the following month and was replaced a few weeks later by former Liverpool player Graeme Souness. Still, he managed 27 games that campaign and scored 11 goals.

Liverpool were top of the league at this stage, but in the new year were overhauled by Arsenal and the title went to Highburymarker at the end of the season. And with the arrival of Dean Saunders for a national record fee of £2.9million after the end of the season, Beardsley's days at Anfieldmarker were looking even more numbered, despite the sale of David Speedie. And there was also talk of Souness signing Glasgow Rangers striker Mo Johnston, though the transfer never happened.

During Beardsley's Anfield career he played in 175 matches and scored 59 goals, but it was his vision, guile and all action style of play that endeared him to the Anfield faithful, so much so he was voted in 19th position in the 2006 poll 100 Players Who Shook The Kop, conducted by the official Liverpool Football Club web site; over 110,000 supporters worldwide voted for their 10 favourite players of all time.

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Everton

Liverpool's derby rivals, Everton succeeded in gaining 30-year-old Beardsley's signature when he joined them on 5 August 1991 for a fee of £1 million. Ironically, they had tried to sign Dean Saunders (the player who effectively replaced Saunders at Anfieldmarker) just weeks earlier, and soon afterwards Beardsley was joined by Mo Johnston, who had been a Liverpool transfer target just before Beardsley's transfer.

He made his debut on 17 August in a 2–1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at the City Groundmarker.

Beardsley crossed the city to join Everton, a move which would normally incur the antipathy of the Liverpool supporters. However, he was forgiven because the fans were unhappy that Beardsley had not been retained and blamed the club, rather than the player. He played well and scored freely for the blue half of Merseyside, though Everton never achieved anything greater than a mid table finish in the league during his time there.

During this two-spell he became, along with David Johnson one of only two players to have scored for both sides in a Merseyside derby. He finished as the club's top scorer by the end of his first season at Goodison Parkmarker and again showed his dynamic quality during his second season, but off the field Everton were suffering financial difficulties and when former club Newcastle offered Everton £1.5 million for Beardsley it was a sum they couldn't turn down for a 32-year-old player.

After 95 matches for Everton, scoring 32 goals, he was on his way back to his home town club Newcastle after six years away.

Return to Newcastle

On 16 July 1993, Beardsley re-joined Newcastle for £1.5million, where his old team-mate and strike partner Kevin Keegan was now manager. Newcastle had just won promotion to the Premier League as Division One champions, and in 1993-94 they finished third and qualified for the UEFA Cup, with Beardsley scoring a total of 25 goals and his strike-partner Andy Cole scoring a club record of 41 goals in all competitions. He played for a further four years at the club, almost captaining them to the FA Premier League title in 1996, but they were pipped to the title by Manchester United.

During his second spell at St James's Park he racked up 157 appearances and scored 56 goals, bringing his overall total after two spells with the club to 321 appearances and 117 goals. This equates to a goal every 2¾ matches, a decent ratio for a player who was seen by many as a provider rather than a goalscorer, particularly in the 1996-97 season when he was switched to midfield following Alan Shearer's arrival. It is this period of his career that Beardsley regards as the time when he peaked.

Later career and retirement

He left Newcastle on 18 August 1997 for £450,000, joining Bolton Wanderers, where he made 21 appearances but was unable to save them from being relegated from the Premier League. He then went on loan to Manchester City, where he played six times. This loan spell made Beardsley the only player to play for both top flight teams in Liverpool and Manchester.

He then moved to Fulham, where he made 28 appearances in two separate loan spells, eventually signing for them permanently. He then went to Hartlepool United on a free transfer, and played 22 times. Despite an internet rumour, Beardsley never played for Doncaster Rovers, with someone confusing him with a player called Chris Beardsley.

In early 1999, Beardsley served as assistant manager to Howard Wilkinson during his first caretaker period as manager of England, between the dismissal of Glenn Hoddle and the appointment of Kevin Keegan. England faced, and lost, to World Champions France in a friendly in Parismarker.

He finally ended his career at the age of 38 when he played twice for the Melbourne Knights in Australia, achieving a yellow card in one game for wearing his shorts backwards, only noticed in injury time by the referee .

In 2003 Beardsley was the subject of a Premier League inquiry, after it was claimed that he had bullied two Newcastle United youth players. He was cleared of the charges.Beardsley left Newcastle in 2006, when Glenn Roeder took over as permanent manager of the club. He believed Newcastle should go in a different direction. Beardsley now works in a media role at the club.In 2007, his former boss at Everton Howard Kendall stated he was interested in taking over as manager of the Republic of Ireland National Team with Beardsley as his assistant. Beardsley was also linked with a return to Newcastle in January 2008 when Kevin Keegan returned as manager for a second spell .In March 2009, Beardsley was re-appointed as an academy coach at Newcastle United, working primarily with young strikers.

International career

During his first spell at Newcastle, Beardsley became a regular in the England side and teamed up with striker Gary Lineker, who described Beardsley as "the best partner I could ever have".

Ironically, it was Lineker who made way for Beardsley when manager Bobby Robson gave him his debut as a substitute on 29 January 1986 in the 4–0 friendly victory over Egypt in Cairomarker. His first goal came in his fourth appearance, on 17 May 1986 in the 3–0 friendly win over Mexico in Los Angelesmarker.

Having only made his debut in January 1986, Beardsley's performances for England won him a call-up for the 1986 World Cup finals in Mexicomarker. England scored seven goals in the tournament, of which Lineker scored six (winning the Golden Boot for doing so); the other goal came from Beardsley in a 3–0 victory over Paraguay in the second round. England had failed to score a goal in the first two matches of the finals, but in the third match – Beardsley's first start in the tournament – they beat Poland 3–0. Beardsley contributed in that match with a spectacular cross to Steve Hodge, which allowed Hodge to make England's second goal for Lineker.

Despite falling out of favour in the Liverpool line-up, he maintained his place in the England team and featured in both Euro 88 and the 1990 World Cup. He was given the honour of captaining England on 17 February 1988 when they drew 0-0 in a friendly with Israel.

During his second spell at Newcastle Beardsley was recalled to the England team, and ultimately ended his international career while still at Newcastle in 1996, after gaining 59 caps and scoring 9 goals.

Beardsley once scored four goals for England against Aylesbury Unitedmarker. These did not count towards his international tally, however, as this was not an official international match.

Honours

Football League First Division (Level 1) 1987/88 and 1989/90

FA Cup 1988/89

Charity Shield 1988/89, 1989/90 and 1990/91

Football League Second Division (Level 3) 1998/99

English Football Hall of Fame inducted in 2007

Notes and references

  1. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/nufc/newcastle-united-news/2009/03/27/peter-beardsley-gets-newcastle-united-coaching-job-72703-23246701/


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