Graeme Souness remembers Athletic’s hostile atmosphere at San Mames prior to an unprecedented treble

Liverpool’s legend Graeme Souness provides his memories after winning their fourth European Cup in Rome, thereby sealing an unprecedented treble. Upon a series of crucial clashes en route to the final, the Reds faced an intimidating second round battle with Basque outfit Athletic Club.

At the heart of their defence was Andoni Goikoetxea, who had been involved in a previous infamous meeting with Diego Maradona which saw the Argentinian star ruled out for a long period as a result of a robust challenge.

After a goalless draw in the first leg at Anfield, Souness and co headed to a hostile atmosphere at San Mames stadium, which is known as ‘the cathedral of Spanish football’ and a very hostile and intimidating place to go.

Sporting their yellow kit, a headed goal from Ian Rush saw the Reds home, but equally vital was the dominance of Souness, completely overshadowing the self-declared ‘Butcher of Bilbao’, Andoni Goikoetxea.

After clearing the ‘Butcher’, Souness was then involved in an infamous semi-final confrontation with Lica Movila of Dinamo Bucharest.

Recalling his confrontations, Souness told Liverpoolfc.com: “In those days there was always little bits going on in the game which you could get away with but it was a really interesting campaign to say the least.

“We as a group were formidable. We had some people who could look after themselves. We had one hat if the opposition wanted a game of football and another hat if the opposition wanted a tug of war with us, and I think we were pretty good at both of them.

“Athletic Bilbao were a really good team. We drew 0-0 in the first leg at Anfield and then went to Bilbao and won 1-0.

“They hadn’t been beaten on their own pitch for about two seasons and I can remember saying to Roy Evans: ‘Evo, if we get through this game tonight we will win the cup!’

“On the night we were fabulous. We trained on their pitch on the Tuesday night and on the Wednesday they watered it. I know it’s normal these days to water the pitch but back then it was rare.”

“That actually suited us down to the ground because were a passing team who loved a slick pitch. We were fabulous that night and I remember Rushie getting a very unusual headed goal to win us the game 1-0.”

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