Ian Rush is the record goalscorer for Liverpool and Wales. These days, he’s an ambassador for Liverpool and Uefa. Rush spends some of his spare time in Cork with his partner Carol Anthony, from Togher. Rush has joined Liverpool on their summer tour with the final stop today (5.15pm) in Dublin as the Reds face Athletic Bilbao at the Aviva Stadium
Q: We saw you recently in your role as a Champions League ambassador bringing the trophy onto the pitch for the final in Cardiff. When you were looking out at the players with their multi-million wage packets, was there any sense of envy?
A: No, really. It’s the going rate these days and I was lucky. People ask me ‘What’d you be worth today?’ but I wouldn’t swap anything. I won trophies, had a great time and we got paid well. It’s what you do with the money, that’s the problem a lot of people have.
Q: Man City have surpassed £200 million in the transfer window this summer and Conte and Mourinho spent over £125m each. Klopp has been impressive in improving players but can he continue to compete?
A: It’s difficult when you’ve got Manchester City spending £120m on full-backs! When you’re spending money, you’d normally expect it to be a striker, or a number 10. To compete with that, you need a good manager, and Klopp is a good manager. He’ll give youngsters a chance if they’re good enough. We got Dominic Solanke, who most probably wouldn’t have got a look-in at Chelsea, but under Jurgen Klopp, if he does well he’ll get a chance. It’s a good chance to see what he can do. Even though we’ve got money there, it’s very difficult to compete money-wise with Manchester City and Chelsea. That’s what a big job Jurgen Klopp has got.
Q: Is that a big problem for the club?
A: No, if the right person came along, Liverpool would be interested. It’s not like Chelsea and Manchester City who can go out buying people knowing that they’re not going to be in the first-team every week. When you’ve that much money, like Chelsea and Manchester City, maybe they’ll buy players not so they play for them, but so they don’t play against them. They’re the only two clubs who can do that. Chelsea had over 30 players out on loan so that’s the difference with Liverpool — they’re only going to buy the player if they’re good enough and ready to improve the team. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did make another signing or two.
Q: In 2013/14, Suarez (31), Sturridge (21) and Gerrard (13) scored 65 league goals between them but Liverpool haven’t had a player score more than 13 in a season since then. How badly does Klopp need someone to be that 20- or 30-goal-a-season player?
A: I know where you’re coming from there. You’ve got Harry Kane, Sanchez, Aguero and Costa, but take them out and they’re the only players guaranteed 20 or 25 goals a season. With the way Liverpool play, they spread the goals around more but it would be great if we could get one (player) that guarantees you 20 or 25 goals a season — that could be a big difference. You never know, if Sturridge gets himself fit and all that, he’s very gifted as a player and he’s capable of doing it. But then to get into Jurgen Klopp’s side you’ve got to be 100% committed to what he feels.
Q: Could that be the big difference for Liverpool to get a title in the bag?
A: Yeah, that could be. We’ve got people getting you 10 or 15 but if you can get someone who can get you 25 goals a season, that could be a big, big difference. That’s proven when you look at Chelsea and Manchester City winning it with these people who can get you a guaranteed 25 goals a season.
Q: Philippe Coutinho seems to want to push through a transfer to Barcelona. Were you ever in that situation as a player?
A: I’ve been in that position when I went to Juventus. I’d won everything at Liverpool and I just wanted to go to Italy, where all the best players in the world were playing. But now the English Premier League is the best league in the world so I’d love Liverpool to keep Coutinho. He’s an amazing player and it doesn’t surprise me that Barcelona are interested in him. Being Brazilian, unless Barcelona or Real Madrid come in for you, you’d want to stay in England, so it’ll be interesting to see what does happen if they pursue their interest. Liverpool, if you let him go, you need someone to replace him and it’s difficult to do that so far. From a Liverpool point of view, I’d love to see Coutinho stay for another year to see how they can do in the Champions League and take it from there. We’ve done it with Suarez. Let’s hope he’s still there come Christmas.
Q: Wales are four points off Serbia and Ireland with four games to go in World Cup qualifying. Is that a bridgeable gap?
A: It’s going to be difficult. The problem that Wales and Ireland have is they could cancel each other out and pave the way for Serbia — that’s my worry. They got a good draw against Serbia last time and Ireland should’ve beaten Austria. If Ireland had beaten Austria, they’d be in the driving seat. But we’ve got to play Ireland in the last game in Cardiff and it’ll be interesting what it comes down to then. They’re very similar teams — the difference maybe is we have Gareth Bale. Realistically, I think Serbia will be favourites to win the group and Wales and Ireland fighting out for the second place. We’ve just got to start winning games now if we’re thinking about going into that final game to beat Ireland to qualify.
Q: So, a Gareth Bale hat-trick to beat your international record and qualify for the World Cup would be your dream scenario?
A: Yeah, the record’s there to be broken. One thing is certain, I know Gareth Bale will break my Welsh record. I just hope I’ll be there to see it because he’s one of the best players in the world. If you look at my record at Liverpool, no-one will break it in my lifetime. That’s one record I can feel quite comfortable saying no-one will break because it means scoring 30 goals a season for 15 seasons, loyalty and staying free from injury.
Q: Did you ever get the answer to that question; how much would you be worth these days?
A: I can’t give an answer but, for me, the hardest thing in the game is to score a goal. I don’t mind paying for the people who do that but when you’re paying £50m for full-backs it goes to show it’s gone crazy — so it could be anything.
Q: You’d take around £100m, I’d say!
A: Ah, I’d take that, yeah!
Check out the new website for the Ian Rush Foundation at www.ianrush9.co.uk. The foundation supports the Shabra Charity in Ireland, which aims to fund DNA gene-testing equipment for the Mater Hospital.
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