With an incredible 346 goals in 660 appearances, Ian Rush's achievements as a Liverpool striker may well never be matched. A predatory finisher and tireless worker with an uncanny knack of being in the right place at the right time, no man has sparked delirium at Anfield with quite the same regularity as Icons Legend of the Week #9.
With a penchant for scoring crucial goals, Rush spearheaded the Liverpool side that dominated the game during the 1980s. Over the course of 15 seasons at Anfield, Liverpool's all-time record goalscorer won five league titles, five League Cups and three FA Cups, not to mention the greatest club accolade of all, the European Cup. His languid and ungainly demeanor did not initially inspire confidence at Liverpool, but when he made his scoring breakthrough in 1981 he soon proved that looks can be deceptive. Forming a lethal strike partnership with fellow Anfield legend Kenny Dalglish (above, left), Rush netted 30 times in 49 appearances during the 1981/82 season - his first as a first-team regular - propelling the Reds to a league and cup double.
1982/83 was another double-winning campaign for Liverpool, but it was the following season that would be remembered as Rush's zenith. Liverpool completed a historic treble that season when they famously defeated AS Roma 4-2 on penalties in the European Cup final, with Rush among Liverpool's successful penalty-takers. With a remarkable total of 47 goals in 65 games, the Welshman scooped the European Golden Boot and PFA Player of the Year award. In only his fourth season on Merseyside, Rush's name was already carved into Liverpool folklore.
But how different his story could have been. Not long after becoming Britain's most expensive teenager when he was signed from Chester City for £300,000 in 1980, Rush - frustrated with a lack of first-team opportunities - confronted Liverpool manager Bob Paisley with a transfer request. Paisley's refusal to sanction the Welshman's proposed move to Crystal Palace would prove one of the best decisions he ever made.
More success followed, and in 1986 Rush fired the Reds to yet another double which included his first FA Cup win, a 3-1 triumph over Merseyside rivals Everton which saw him put in a goal scoring, man-of-the-match performance. His emphatic scoring record was not going unnoticed across the continent and in July 1986, with a host of top European clubs hovering, Rush signed for Italian giants Juventus for a British record £3m. He spent the first year of his Juventus contract on loan with Liverpool before moving to Italy in 1987. Rush's season in Turin was a difficult one as he managed just seven goals in 29 Serie A appearances, and after failing to settle in his new surroundings, he was welcomed back to Anfield with open arms in the summer of 1988.
On his return to Merseyside, Rush found himself in competition with new Liverpool strikers John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley. The goals continued to flow at a steady rate for the Welshman though, and he picked up two FA Cups, a League Cup and a First Division title in the eight seasons before his eventual departure from Liverpool in 1996.
Rush is Wales' record goalscorer with 28 goals from 73 appearances. But despite his excellent return, Wales were never able to qualify for a major tournament during his career, meaning he joins the likes of George Best and Ryan Giggs as a legend who never appeared at the highest level of international football.
Rush remains one of the most decorated players in Anfield history, and an inspiration to Liverpool supporters young and old. The likes of Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have one hell of a task on their hands if they are to get close to that goal scoring record.