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|Full name||Stephen Derek Heighway|
|Date of birth||25 November 1947|
|Place of birth||Dublin, Ireland|
|1981–1982||Philadelphia Fever (indoor)||23||(3)|
|1970–1981||Republic of Ireland||34||(0)|
|*Club domestic league appearances and goals|
Stephen Derek Heighway (born 25 November 1947) is an Irish former footballer who was part of the hugely successful Liverpool team of the 1970s. Following his eleven-year spell at the club, he has been regarded by some as one of the greatest Liverpool players of all time, and was ranked 23rd in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop poll.
Heighway became academy director at Liverpool in a period when the club brought through such bright talents as Steven Gerrard, Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher. He retired in 2007 but later rejoined the Liverpool Academy in a consulting role, which he held until retiring again in 2022.
Life and playing career
Though he was born in Dublin, Ireland, some of Heighway's early education took place in Sheffield where he attended Ecclesall Junior School (until 1959), followed by High Storrs School and latterly Moseley Hall Grammar School for Boys in Cheadle, near Stockport.
Heighway's early promise as a winger was not spotted by professionals. Instead, he concentrated on his studies in economics and politics at the University of Warwick in Coventry (where he started in 1966) achieving a 2:1.
In 1970, Heighway was studying for his final exams and playing for Skelmersdale United when he was spotted by Liverpool's scouting system. With manager Bill Shankly keen to rebuild his ageing, underachieving team of the 1960s, Heighway was signed up swiftly in May of that year. It was due to Heighway's academic achievements that he got his nickname 'Big Bamber', while teammate and fellow university graduate Brian Hall was dubbed 'Little Bamber' – both after the television programme University Challenge host Bamber Gascoigne.
A strong and fast left winger with two good feet, Heighway settled into top flight football after making his debut on September 22, 1970, in a League Cup 2nd round replay at Anfield against Mansfield Town (3-2). Heighway opened his goalscoring account in the 51st minute of a 2–0 home league win over Burnley on October 1, 1970.
A month later, he scored against Merseyside rivals Everton in a hard-fought 3–2 win, after his team had found themselves 2–0 down not long into the second half. He stayed in the side for the rest of the season as Liverpool's new charges finished the league campaign strongly and also defeated Everton in the semi-finals of the FA Cup to reach the final at Wembley.
Their opponents were Arsenal, who were after a coveted "double" having won the League championship. Heighway played confidently in a match that was goalless after 90 minutes and therefore needed a period of extra-time. Just two minutes into the added half-hour, Heighway received the ball wide on his left flank from substitute Peter Thompson and started a run towards the Arsenal penalty area, with Gunners full back Pat Rice tracking his run but unwilling to put in a tackle. With a swift turn outside Heighway gained a yard on Rice and hit a low drive into the net past Arsenal goalkeeper Bob Wilson, who had committed the cardinal goalkeeping sin of coming out too far from his near post to anticipate a cross, thereby leaving a gap that Heighway exploited. Sadly for Heighway and Liverpool, their opponents scored two goals in response.
Heighway settled into the Liverpool team for the next decade, winning the first of four League titles in 1973, along with the UEFA Cup. He returned to Wembley for another FA Cup final a year later as Liverpool faced Newcastle United. Heighway scored again with 16 minutes of the game remaining to make the score 2–0, latching on to a flick from John Toshack after a long clearance from goalkeeper Ray Clemence to slot a right-footed shot into the far corner. The game ended 3–0.
By now, Heighway was a regular for the Republic of Ireland making his debut on 23 September 1970 against Poland. He remained so for the whole of the 1970s, winning a total of 34 caps but never managing to score. He did have a goal disallowed in a qualifier for the 1978 World Cup against Bulgaria in Sofia. On the domestic front, Heighway attained another League and UEFA Cup double with Liverpool in 1976 and then formed part of the side which came so close to the "treble" of League, FA Cup and European Cup.
Liverpool won the League by a single point and again defeated rivals Everton in the semi-final to reach the FA Cup final, this time to face bitter rivals Manchester United at Wembley. Liverpool lost 2–1 and the "treble" dream was dead.
Heighway scored his first goal of the 1977 European Cup in a 5–0 first round second leg win over Crusaders. He then scored in a 3–0 second round win against Trabzonspor and in the 3–1 semi-final first leg win over Zurich. Liverpool beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3–1 to win their first European Cup, with Heighway setting up both outfield goals for Terry McDermott, a defence-splitting pass, and Tommy Smith, a corner.
In 1978, Heighway was on the bench as Liverpool retained the European Cup with a 1–0 victory over FC Bruges at Wembley, coming on as a substitute for Jimmy Case. The following year he was again in the side frequently as Liverpool won another League title, but from 1980 onwards his opportunities in the side diminished.
Heighway stayed for two more seasons, appearing only occasionally in the team and missing out on two more League title medals, another European Cup triumph and a first League Cup medal, which was successfully defended a year later. He left Anfield in 1982 after 444 matches and 76 goals.
Heighway then prolonged his career with a move to the U.S., joining Minnesota Kicks for the 1981 season. He played 26 games, scoring four goals. He then joined the coaching staff of Umbro, which led to a position with the Clearwater Chargers where he pioneered the role of director of coaching in the United States. In 1989 he was asked to rejoin Liverpool to run their youth academy, bringing promising youngsters up through the system until they were ready for the professional game. Among Heighway's successes were Steve McManaman, Robbie Fowler, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Dominic Matteo, David Thompson and Michael Owen.
Heighway announced his retirement from Liverpool on 26 April 2007, immediately after the side he managed won the FA Youth Cup for the second year running. He commented: "I don't know what the future holds just yet, we'll have to wait and see."
Heighway returned to working at Liverpool's Academy part-time in 2015, at the request of Academy Director Alex Inglethorpe, before taking up a full-time consultancy role later that year. After seven years in this position, he retired for a second time in December 2022.
Heighway also features in a popular Liverpool chant Fields of Anfield Road, which is frequently sung by fans of Liverpool during matches.
As a player
- Football League First Division (5): 1972–73, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80
- FA Cup (1): 1973–74
- League Cup (1): 1980–81
- FA Charity Shield (4): 1974, 1976, 1977 (shared), 1979
- European Cup (2): 1976–77, 1977–78
- UEFA Cup (2): 1972–73, 1975–76
- UEFA Super Cup (1): 1977
As Academy Director
- "Steve Heighway: the man who scored Liverpool's goal in the 1971 FA Cup Final". The Observer. 6 May 2001. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
Heighway, the London-born winger
- Beesley, Chris (28 October 2015). "Liverpool FC return for Steve Heighway". Liverpool Echo.
- "Liverpool FC - Homepage".
- "Heighway: These are best I've worked with - Liverpool FC". Archived from the original on 28 September 2014. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- "Steve Heighway retires from LFC coaching role". Liverpool F.C. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
- "Player profile - Steve Heighway". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Charity Shield - Liverpool 1 - 1 Leeds United". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Charity Shield - Liverpool 1 - 0 Southampton". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Charity Shield - Liverpool 0 - 0 Manchester United". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Charity Shield - Liverpool 3 - 1 Arsenal". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "European Super Cup 2nd leg - Liverpool 6 - 0 Hamburg SV". LFC History. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- "Heighway quits at the top". LFC online. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Fifield, Dominic (14 April 2006). "Threlfall sets Liverpool on way to youth glory". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2014.
- Ornstein, David (27 April 2007). "Spot-on Liverpool retain cup". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 October 2014.