Ian St John was more than just a footballing legend – Scotsman comment

In the best of ways, Ian St John was many things to many people.

Ian St John, left, and Jimmy Greaves meet their own puppets from satirical show Spitting Image in 1989 (Picture: ITV/Shutterstock)

For Motherwell fans of a certain age, he was a striker who scored an extraordinary 80 goals in 113 league games and, later, club manager.

For supporters of Liverpool FC, he was one of the players who helped transform their club under another Scot, Bill Shankly, into a giant of European football.

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And, for younger generations, the former Scotland international was a football pundit in a marvellously funny double act with his English counterpart Jimmy Greaves, first on ITV’s World of Sport and then – by popular demand after that show’s demise – in their own programme Saint and Greavsie.

They were both among Britain’s finest footballers of the second half of the 20th century and they were blessed with many insights about the beautiful game, but what made their show really special was the good-humoured banter and camaraderie between them.

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For many years, it was, as ex-Liverpool defender and current pundit Jamie Carragher rightly pointed out, “the best football show on TV”.

During his playing career, his football skills and the vast number of goals he scored will have delighted legions of fans. And that is something that should not be underestimated – he was able to do things on the football field that many can only dream of.

But it is perhaps his other qualities – his “warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy”, to quote Liverpool and Scotland star Andy Robertson – that have cemented his place as a true great in Scottish sporting history.

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