Monday, 15 February 2016

OSM - Life After Football - Jim Beglin

Seven months after lifting the league and cup double, Jim Beglin’s leg was badly broken following a tackle in the Merseyside derby of February 1987. The Liverpool manager at that time, Bob Paisley, said it was one of the worst leg breaks he had ever seen. Beglin’s fellow Liverpool defender – and former BBC pundit - Alan Hansen stated that the tackle was "a mile high and an hour late.

Beglin himself recalled it all as follows: "I knew it was bad. The play seemed to carry on for eternity for me, but it was probably just a few seconds. I looked down and I couldn't believe where my foot was, but I knew it was where it shouldn't be, adjacent to my shin. The pain was a nightmare." 

Brutally ending a playing career that started in schoolboy football in his native city of Waterford, before joining Shamrock Rovers in 1980 where he went was to spend 3 years, making 4 appearances in Europe and scoring one goal. Jim was the last signing made by Paisley in a move from Dublin that cost the Reds GB£20,000 in May 1983.

He was gradually brought into the first team over the following 18 months by the new boss Joe Fagan and eventually replaced Alan Kennedy in the 1985-86 season. Making his debut though on the left of midfield in November 1984 in a 1-1 draw with Southampton at Anfield. 

The Waterford native scored his first goal for the club 5 months later in the 4-0 European Cup Semi-final 1st leg victory over Panathinaikos at Anfield. His 85th minute strike putting the tie out of reach for the Greek club and Liverpool winning the second leg to set up a showdown in the final with Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium. 

That night in Brussels became a tragedy when a retaining wall collapsed during a riot at the Liverpool end and killed 39 Juventus supporters. Beglin was on the field that May evening with fellow Irish men Mark Lawrenson and Ronnie Whelan.

The next season Liverpool won the League championship and FA Cup, beating Merseyside rivals Everton to both, with Beglin picking up medals for each. That season he also began playing for the Republic of Ireland, earning the first of a total of 15 caps. However midway through the following season Beglin surfed his serious injury.

Recovering from the break, Beglin then sustained a knee cartilage injury playing for Liverpool's reserves in October 1988 effectively finishing his time at Anfield. So in 1989, Jim joined Leeds United, helping the club to become Second Division champions and with periods on loan with Plymouth Argyle and Blackburn Rovers. Unfortunately, a recurrence of his knee injury forced him into retirement in 1991. Beglin was just 27 years old: 

After football Beglin pursued a career in the media and started working for RTE Radio Sport with Gabriel Egan before moving to also co-commentate on RTE TV. 

Some years later Beglin joined ITV Sport to cover Champions League and World Cup’s until EURO 2012. Then during 2015/16 the former Liverpool defender worked for BT Sport

Last year Beglin returned to RTE for the Champions League and EURO 2016 Qualifying campaign. This summer he will also be part of the RTE commentary team in France which sees the Republic of Ireland play Sweden, Belgium and Italy.

"Jim's career was cut short by a dreadful injury sustained at Everton in a Derby match. He was an outstanding prospect. I remember him coming from Waterford. He was one of those players with a massive heart and massive will-to-win. 

He was so determined to make it in the big time. An outstanding left-back, good defensively with great positional sense and a sweet left foot."

Mark Lawrenson, BBC Sport

I had my leg broken but I still feel Fifa has gone soft over tackling @TelegraphSport 

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