Thursday 14 December 2017

Alan Hansen: Gattuso lucky my fearsome old adversary chose not to fight back

The 60-year-old former Scottish international striker was a formidable
figure during his playing days and has lost none of his passion for the game
The 60-year-old former Scottish international striker was a formidable figure during his playing days and has lost none of his passion for the game

Alan Hansen

As Harry Redknapp said after Tuesday's match in Milan, Gennaro Gattuso obviously had not done his homework.

Maybe, when he was looking for someone with whom to pick a fight, he saw a mild-mannered, affable man on the touchline, almost 60, wearing glasses, and thought he would make a suitable rival. Clearly nobody had explained Joe Jordan's history to him. Jordan was, without question, one of the most fearsome centre-forwards I ever faced.

Joe's name was one of those you dreaded seeing on the team-sheet when it was delivered to the Liverpool dressing-room.

In 1979, we were drawn to play Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final and there was some debate over whether Joe would be fit. When we were given their line-up and there, at No 9, was his name, I was seriously unhappy.

Curiously, there was a similar doubt in the build-up to the 1986 FA Cup semi-final with Southampton, the club Joe joined after returning from Italy. That time he didn't play; it raised my spirits considerably.

It was not simply that he was big, strong and aggressive. It gets forgotten quite how good a player Joe was. He was quick, he was great in the air, he had an excellent left foot and a delicate touch. He showed that in his spell in Serie A. He was not under-rated but some of his qualities went unnoticed.


That is understandable; without his teeth in, Joe was a fearful sight.

Away from the game he is a very convivial, softly-spoken man, but once he crossed that white line, he was a different animal altogether.

It is important to remember, too, in those days the rules were not nearly so tightly defined. There were not nearly so many cameras,. Nowadays, you can be sent off for just leading with an elbow when you jump for a header; then, people would swing elbows everywhere.

Everyone knew, for example, that the ref would never book anyone in the first 10 minutes, which gave defenders one free hit on the forward, and vice versa. Joe was of that ilk -- he would let you know he was there. He was aggressive, and he was rough, but he was fair.

It always came as a relief to have him on my side when we played together for Scotland.

His on-pitch persona could not contrast more sharply with how he is off the pitch, where he is as unassuming a man as you could hope to meet.

That is evidently the person Gattuso believed he had chosen to square up to: when you pick a fight, you do not look for Mike Tyson. I imagine someone has now explained to him who Joe is. I can't see him going back for round two. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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