Former Liverpool and Scotland striker Ian St John has died at the age of 82.
The Scottish forward won two First Division titles under Bill Shankly at Anfield in 1963-64 and 1965-66 and scored the winner in the 1965 FA Cup final. He also represented Scotland 26 times and would later go on to manage boyhood club Motherwell, as well as Portsmouth.
Following his retirement from management, St John moved into punditry and forged a hugely successful on-screen partnership with England legend Jimmy Greaves. Their Saint and Greavsie Saturday programme was hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s.
A statement released on behalf of Greaves read: ‘I loved my time with the Saint making Saint & Greavsie. After my illness Ian phones several times too see how I was. And now he’s gone. He was a lot of fun to be with and a great footballer. He will be sadly missed. I will never forget his laughter for all the years we worked together.’
Liverpool legend Ian St John (pictured at Anfield in March 2014) has died at the age of 82
After retiring, St John forged a hugely popular on-screen partnership with England legend Jimmy Greaves
Liverpool announced on Tuesday morning that he died on Monday evening following illness and tweeted: ‘We are deeply saddened by the passing of a true Anfield legend, Ian St John.
‘The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Ian’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time.’
A statement from St John’s family read: ‘It is with a heavy heart that we have to inform you that after a long illness we have lost a husband, father and grandfather.
‘He passed away peacefully with his family at his bedside.
‘We would like to thank all the staff at Arrowe Park Hospital for their hard work and dedication during these very difficult times.
‘The family would be grateful for privacy at this extremely sad time.’
St John scored the winner to hand Liverpool their first FA Cup title against Leeds in 1965
He also represented Scotland 26 times and returned to his homeland to manage Motherwell
Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher was among the first to pay tribute to St John on social media
Liverpool legend and Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher tweeted his condolences, posting: ‘RIP Ian St John – another Liverpool Legend sadly passes away.
‘One of the players along with Bill Shankly who made this club what it is today. I’ll remember him most on the best football show on tv, The Saint & Greavsie. X’.
In 2014, St John had his bladder and prostate removed during a battle with cancer after being diagnosed a few years earlier.
His arrival at Anfield from Motherwell in 1961 for just £37,500 was later described as a ‘turning point’ by Shankly as the Reds became one of Europe’s leading clubs.
Football journalist Andy Mitten revealed on Tuesday that his uncle, former Newcastle manager Charlie Mitten, was desperate to sign St John in 1961 but the club’s board delayed and he instead moved to Merseyside.
He tweeted: ‘My uncle Charlie wanted to sign Motherwell striker Ian St John when he managed Newcastle United. Thought he had a gem. IST was 22 and living in a tenement building. He agreed to sign for Charlie. Newcastle’s board procrastinated and he went to Liverpool instead. RIP.’
St John formed a deadly partnership up front with Roger Hunt and their goals fired Liverpool to promotion from the second tier in the Scot’s first season at the club.
St John scored 118 goals in 425 appearances for the Reds, including the decisive goal in extra-time to hand Liverpool the club’s first FA Cup title against Leeds at Wembley in 1965.
In 2014, St John had his bladder and prostate removed during a battle with cancer
St John (right) pictured with Virgil van Dijk and James Milner on a tour of Melwood in 2019
But St John is just as famous for his work on television and his show with Greaves, which ran for seven years from 1985, paved the way and set the standard for light-hearted TV football programmes.
In 2004, on an episode of Fantasy Football, Frank Skinner, who co-hosted with David Baddiel, described the pair as the ‘godfathers’ of football comedy.
The final episode of the popular show on ITV was broadcast from Sweden during the 1992 European Championship.
St John pounced to score an extra-time winner againsgt Leeds in the 1965 FA Cup final
Liverpool’s current Scotland captain Andy Robertson tweeted: ‘A man of warmth, humour, knowledge, wisdom and joy. Scotland and Liverpool has lost a true giant. My love goes to his family. Rest in peace Ian St John.’
Across Stanley Park, Everton released a statement on Twitter reading: ‘A real loss to the game and one felt heavily in our city. A rival for many years but a popular figure on and off the pitch. Our thoughts are with Ian St John ‘s loved ones and everyone at at this sad time. RIP.’
Another former Reds frontman John Aldridge posted: ‘So sad to hear the news of the great (Saint)Ian St John passing away. What an inspiration watching from the terraces at Anfield he was,also a cracking bloke. Our Thoughts are with his family. RIP St. YNWA.’
St John, who was married to Betsy, was also a big campaigner for investigating the links between dementia and football.
In a Liverpool fan poll ‘100 Players Who Shook the Kop’ St John was voted No 21 in 2006 and No 33 in 2013.
SAINT AND GREAVSIE
Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves teamed up as broadcasters on On The Ball in World of Sport and later Sport in Question but it is Saint and Greavsie – with the familair catchphrase ‘It’s a funny old game…’ that they will be always be remembered for.
The Saturday lunchtime show ran on ITV from 1985 until 1992 with the final episode coming from Sweden during that summer’s Euros.
Most of the jokes on the show were set up by Saint and put away by Greavsie with the Scot often laughing away at his sidekick.
The pair were famous for their on-screen chemistry but rarely got together away from the show as they lived at opposite ends of the country.
The show became part of matchdays. It was so successful that St John and Greaves were turned into Spitting Image puppets, an indication of their national profile.
St John once said: ‘We’d meet socially after internationals, those were quite social days. Then with Liverpool and Tottenham. We had big Bob Patience producing the programme, he was great. ‘But Jimmy wouldn’t wear an earpiece and never read the script. I did. People thought we were making it up. And we were.’
The show spawned a board game and books over the years it ran and paved the way for the likes of Fantasy Football, hosted by comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner.