Paul Walsh (born October 1, 1962 in Plumstead, London) was a diminuitive and pacy centre forward who shot to fame in the 1980s after joining Liverpool.
Walsh began his career at Charlton Athletic and quickly established himself to the extent of a transfer to Luton Town who at that time were in English football’s top flight. His impish, natural predatory instincts around the penalty area earned him the first of five caps for England.
In 1984, he won the PFA Young Player of the Year award and was purchased by Liverpool for £700,000.
With Ian Rush injured at the start of his first season, Walsh was expected to slot in alongside Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish straightaway, and this he did with aplomb, scoring mere seconds into his debut against West Ham United and leading the line with confidence, skill and trickery.
As Liverpool’s campaign to defend the European Cup gathered pace, Walsh scored crucial goals in latter stages of the competition, including two in the quarter finals against Austria Vienna, missing out on a hat-trick when the opposing goalkeeper saved his penalty. Liverpool made the final and Walsh was selected by manager Joe Fagan to start the game, but the Heysel Stadium disaster put his joy into perspective, and Liverpool ultimately lost the match.
Walsh was cursed with poor luck the following season, suffering niggling injuries and thereby necessitating Dalglish’s appearance in the side more than the now player-manager would have possibly preferred. An ankle injury suffered in February 1986 put paid to Walsh’s season as Liverpool won the League championship and FA Cup “double”. Walsh played enough games for a title medal but missed the FA Cup final victory over fierce Merseyside rivals Everton.
Dalglish scaled down his playing career the following year, and Walsh got more of a look-in after recovering from another injury which had ruled him out of the opening dozen games. He played in the 1987 League Cup final but Liverpool lost 2-1 to Arsenal and Walsh was dropped afterwards. A trophyless season meant that Dalglish spent big on new players to revive Liverpool’s fortunes, and Walsh suffered as a result.
John Aldridge was bought to replace Rush as the natural finisher of the team, and Peter Beardsley came in at huge expense to provide the craft. This new strike partnership was an instant success as Liverpool went unbeaten for a record-equalling first 29 games of the season. Walsh got a few cursory appearances as a substitute, having unwisely questioned Dalglish’s offer of a role in midfield to the extent that he wasn’t given a place at all.
Liverpool waltzed to the League title and Walsh joined Tottenham Hotspur, beginning a spell of productive but short-lived spells at clubs. His journeyman career later took in periods at QPR, Portsmouth (twice) and Manchester City. He suffered a knee injury in 1996 which brought his career to an end.
Walsh has since worked in the media, providing studio-based match analysis for both ITV and Sky Sports.