David Johnson (footballer born 1951)

David Johnson (footballer born 1951)
David Johnson
Personal information
Full name David Edward Johnson
Date of birth 23 October 1951 (1951-10-23) (age 60)
Place of birth Liverpool, England
Playing position Striker
Youth career
1967–1969 Everton
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1969–1972 Everton 49 (11)
1972–1976 Ipswich Town 136 (35)
1976–1982 Liverpool 148 (55)
1982–1984 Everton 40 (4)
1984 Barnsley (loan) 4 (1)
1984 Manchester City 6 (1)
1984 Tulsa Roughnecks 17 (4)
1984–1985 Preston North End 24 (3)
Naxxar Lions
National team
1975–1980 England 8 (6)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.
† Appearances (Goals).

David Edward Johnson (born 23 October 1951 in Liverpool, England) was a goalscorer who was part of the successful Liverpool side of the 1970s and 1980s.


Life playing career

Johnson signed for Liverpool's deadly rivals Everton as a youngster and after showing his ability in early matches, Liverpool manager Bill Shankly pestered Everton counterpart Harry Catterick to sell the young striker, but was rebuffed.

Johnson made his Everton debut as a 19 year old on the 8 January 1971 in a 2–2 league draw with Burnley at Turf Moor. Later on in 1971 Johnson scored in a Merseyside derby game for Everton; he would do the same for Liverpool a decade later, making him, along with Peter Beardsley the only players to have scored for both clubs in the derby.

His career progressed individually but Everton's standards as a club were declining in the 1970s and Johnson joined Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town in the November 1972. Questions were asked by many of the Ipswich supporters as to why Robson would want to swap the clubs top goalscorer, Rod Belfitt (and £40,000), with a virtually unknown 21 year old. They soon saw why as Johnson settled in at Portman Road and become a fan favourite.

He made his Ipswich debut on the 4 November 1972 at Portman Road in a 2–2 draw with Leeds United. His first goal for the club came on the 2 December the same year in the 1–1 draw with Manchester City at Maine Road. By the end of his first season Johnson had helped Ipswich to the Texaco Cup final where they met East Anglian derby rivals Norwich City. After the two legged final Ipswich emerged victorious, winning 4–2 on aggregate by winning both legs 2–1.

The following season Ipswich drew Spanish giants Real Madrid in the first round of the UEFA Cup. Against the odds Ipswich beat their illustrious counterparts by a goal to nil at home and held Real to a goalless draw at the Bernabéu in front of 80,000 fanatical supporters. After seeing off Real next out of the hat came the hard tackling Italian side S.S. Lazio.

Lazio certainly lived up to their notoriety with Johnson being one of their victims. 4–0 down with just 20 minutes remaining the Italians resorted to their reputation. Johnson had the ball and Giancarlo Oddi went to close him down. Oddi then put in a waist high challenge which left Johnson in a heap on the floor holding his groin. Johnson had to be stretchered off and missed the following 3 fixtures as a consequence.

Johnson returned from the injury for the return leg in Rome and took up his place on the bench. He watched as Lazio scored early and then again before half-time. A nervous Ipswich were relieved when the referee awarded them a penalty which was despatched by Colin Viljoen. However, the relief was temporary as Lazio scored two more goals to put the tie back in the balance. In the 88th minute with the score now a tight 5–4 on aggregate Robson turned to Johnson hoping that the striker could keep the ball and take some of the pressure off his over worked defence. He did more than that; with virtually his first touch he scored the goal that would finally settle the tie in the Suffolk clubs favour. Again, living up to their bad boy tag Johnson was chased down the tunnel after the final whistle by three angry Italians. Ipswich beat Dutch side FC Twente in the next round but went out in the quarter finals to East German side Locomotiv Leipzig 4–3 on penalties after the sides had drawn 1–1 during normal and extra time.

David was never really prolific during his time at Portman Road scoring just 35 goals in his four seasons at the club, but he was fast and very brave and would never shirk a challenge. He was also a good link man who could bring other players into the game. He and Trevor Whymark forged a great partnership that terrorised defences up and down the country.

It was during his time at Ipswich that Johnson was called up by Don Revie for his first cap for England. He made his debut in a British Home Championship match at Wembley on the 21 May 1975. Wales were the visitors with the game ending 2–2 with Johnson scoring both the goals. He also memorably scored twice in a 3–1 victory over world champions Argentina at Wembley, a game which saw the first appearance in England of Diego Maradona. David was in Ron Greenwood's squad for the 1980 European Championships but found himself behind Gary Birtles and the man that replaced him at Ipswich Paul Mariner. He only won eight caps for his country but managed to score six times in those appearances.

In 1976 Tottenham Hotspur put in a bid for around £200,000 but Johnson did not want to move. However, his answer was different when Liverpool came calling. After 137 league appearances for the Tractor Boys, Liverpool got their man (though Shankly never did as he had retired two years earlier) and Johnson went to Anfield. He made his debut for the club on the 21 August 1976 in a 1–0 league win over Norwich at Anfield. He scored his first goal a week later on the 28th, but his goal wasn't enough to prevent Birmingham City beating Liverpool 2–1 at St Andrews.

In his first season he was a frequent substitute, vying for the right to partner Kevin Keegan with both John Toshack and David Fairclough. In his debut season Liverpool were chasing an historic "treble" of League championship, FA Cup and European Cup as the season drew to a thrilling close.

Johnson picked up his first domestic honour with the League title and was selected as Keegan's strike partner for the FA Cup final at Wembley, but Liverpool lost 2–1 to Manchester United and Johnson made little impact to the extent that he was replaced by Ian Callaghan in the second half.

For the European Cup final against Borussia Mönchengladbach in Rome three days later, manager Bob Paisley kept the team that had ended the match at Wembley, so Callaghan started and Johnson was on the bench. He picked up a medal as Liverpool won 3–1.

In April 1978, Johnson scored for Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park – becoming the very first player to score for both clubs in the Merseyside derby.[1] As of 2010, only one other player – Peter Beardsley – has achieved this feat since.[2] He was in the side which retained the European Cup but lost both the League title and the League Cup final to Nottingham Forest.

In 1979 and 1980 he was a free-scoring centre forward as Liverpool regained and then retained the title, and in 1981 he played as Liverpool won their third European Cup and their first League Cup.

However, a sign of things to come was in that first League Cup success. After the first game at Wembley ended 1–1, Johnson was on the bench for the replay against West Ham United due to Paisley's decision to try out a young forward called Ian Rush. Rush never scored but played well and the following year he was the regular partner to Kenny Dalglish with Johnson being used less frequently.

Johnson did enough on a personal level to win a final title medal in 1982 and also won the League Cup again after getting the substitute's shirt for the final before he returned to Everton in the August of '82 for £100,000. He retired a few years later after spells at Barnsley on loan, Manchester City, Preston North End, American side Tulsa Roughnecks in the NASL and Maltese side Naxxar LionsHe also had a spell as player manager at Barrow A.F.C . He currently works at Anfield, hosting in the corporate lounges. He can also be heard regularly on BBC Radio Merseyside as both a match summariser and also a regular contributor to the station's Red Alert programme aired on Friday's at 7.30pm where he provides what is known during the show as "The Doc's Diagnosis".



  1. ^ James Pearce (25 September 2008). "David Johnson: I lived the dream with derby winners for Liverpool and Everton". Liverpool Banter. Liverpool Echo & Daily Post. http://www.liverpoolbanter.co.uk/2008/09/david-johnson-i-lived-the-drea.html. Retrieved 18 October 2010. 
  2. ^ "Archive: Peter Beardsley". Mirror Football (Trinity Mirror). http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/archive/Peter-Beardsley-article927.html.htm. Retrieved 18 October 2010. 

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