Dalglish began his career with Celtic in 1971, going on to win four Scottish First Divisions, four Scottish Cups and one Scottish League Cup with the club. In 1977, Liverpool manager Bob Paisley paid a British transfer record of £440,000 (£2,465,000 today) to bring Dalglish to Liverpool. His years at Liverpool were among the club's most successful periods, as he won six Football League First Divisions, two FA Cups, four League Cups, seven FA Charity Shields, three European Cups and one UEFA Super Cup. For these achievements and his style of play he was given the name King Kenny by Liverpool supporters. Dalglish became player-manager of Liverpool in 1985 after the resignation of Joe Fagan, winning a further three First Divisions, two FA Cups and four FA Charity Shields, before resigning from Liverpool in 1991.
Eight months later Dalglish made a return to football management with Blackburn Rovers, whom he led from the Second Division to win the Premier League in 1995. Soon afterwards he stepped down as Blackburn manager to become Director of Football at the club, before leaving altogether in 1996. In January 1997 Dalglish took over as manager at Newcastle United. Newcastle finished runners-up in both the Premier League and FA Cup during his first season, but they could only finish 13th in 1997–98, which led to his dismissal the following season. Dalglish went on to be appointed Director of Football at Celtic in 1999, and later manager, where he won the Scottish League Cup before an acrimonious departure the following year.
Between 2000 and 2010 Dalglish focused on charitable concerns, founding The Marina Dalglish Appeal with his wife to raise money for cancer care. In January 2011 Dalglish was appointed Liverpool's caretaker manager after the dismissal of Roy Hodgson, becoming the permanent manager in May 2011. Despite winning the League Cup which earned them a place in the Europa League and reaching the FA Cup Final, Liverpool could only finish 8th in the Premier League, and Dalglish was dismissed in May 2012. In October 2013, Dalglish returned to Anfield as a non-executive director. On 3 May 2017, it was announced that in recognition of Dalglish's contribution to the club and community, the stadium's Centenary Stand was to be renamed the Kenny Dalglish Stand.
Dalglish, the son of an engineer, was born in Dalmarnock in the East End of Glasgow, and was brought up in Milton in the north of Glasgow. He moved to the docklands of Govan, near Ibrox, home of Rangers, when he was 15, and he grew up supporting Rangers.
Dalglish attended Milton Bank Primary School in Milton and started out as a goalkeeper. He then attended High Possil Senior Secondary School, where he won the inter-schools five-a-side and the inter-year five-a-side competitions. He won the Scottish Cup playing for Glasgow Schoolboys and Glasgow Schools, and was then selected for the Scottish schoolboys team that went undefeated in a home nations Victory Shield tournament. In 1966 Dalglish had unsuccessful trials at West Ham and Liverpool.
Dalglish signed a provisional contract with Celtic in May 1967. Celtic manager Jock Stein sent Sean Fallon to see Dalglish and his parents at their home; on hearing that Fallon was at the door, Dalglish rushed upstairs to remove the Rangers posters from his bedroom walls. In his first season Dalglish was loaned out to Cumbernauld United, for whom he scored 37 goals. During this time he also worked as an apprentice joiner. Stein wished Dalglish to spend a second season on loan at Cumbernauld, but the youngster wished to turn professional. Dalglish got his wish, and became a regular member of the highly rated Celtic reserve team that became known as the Quality Street Gang, due to its having a large number of future Scottish internationals, including Danny McGrain, George Connelly, Lou Macari, and David Hay. Dalglish made his first-team competitive debut for Celtic in a Scottish League Cup quarter-final tie against Hamilton Academical on 25 September 1968, coming on as a second-half substitute in a 4–2 win.
He played with the reserves throughout season 1968–69, but only scored four goals in 17 games. The following season, he moved into midfield, which saw his performances improve. Stein put Dalglish in the starting XI for the first team in a league match against Raith Rovers on 4 October 1969. Celtic won 7–1 but Dalglish didn't score, nor did he score in the next three first-team games he played in during season 1969–70. The reserves, however, benefited from his goalscoring talent from midfield as he helped them to the league and cup double, with him scoring 19 goals in 31 games.
Dalglish continued his goalscoring form in the reserves into the next season, scoring 23 goals. A highlight of his season came in the Reserve Cup Final against Rangers. Dalglish scored one goal in a 4-1 win in the first leg, then in the second leg scored a hat-trick in a 6-1 win to clinch the cup. Still not a first-team regular, Dalglish was in the stands when the Ibrox disaster occurred at an Old Firm match in January 1971, when 66 Rangers fans were killed. On 17 May 1971, he played for Celtic against Kilmarnock in a testimonial match for the Rugby Park club's long serving midfielder, Frank Beattie. Dalglish scored six goals for Celtic in a 7–2 win.
The 1971–72 season saw Dalglish finally establish himself in the Celtic first team, scoring 29 goals in 53 games and helping Celtic win their seventh consecutive league title. Dalglish also played in Celtic's 6–1 win over Hibernian in the 1972 Scottish Cup Final. In 1972–73 Dalglish was Celtic's leading scorer, with 39 goals in all competitions, and saw Celtic win yet another league championship. Celtic won a league & cup double in 1973–74 and reached the semi-finals of the European Cup. The ties against Atletico Madrid were acrimonious however, and Dalglish described the first leg in Glasgow where the Spanish side had three players sent off as "without doubt the worst game I have ever played in as far as violence is concerned."
Dalglish was made Celtic captain in the 1975–76 season, during which Celtic failed to win a trophy for the first time in 12 years, after Stein was badly injured in a car crash and missed most of the season. He was however voted the Player of the Year in Scotland by the Players' Association. Stein recovered from his injuries to return the following season, and saw Celtic win another league & cup double, with Dalglish scoring 27 goals in all competitions.
On 10 August 1977, after making 320 appearances and scoring 167 goals for Celtic, Dalglish was signed by Liverpool manager Bob Paisley for a British transfer fee record of £440,000 (£2,465,000 today). Dalglish's departure was unpopular with the Celtic fans, and when he returned in August 1978 to play in Stein's testimonial, he was booed by a large contingent of Celtic supporters.
Dalglish was signed to replace Kevin Keegan, and quickly settled into his new club. He made his debut, wearing Keegan's number seven shirt, on 13 August 1977 in the season opener at Wembley, in the Charity Shield against Manchester United. He scored his first goal for Liverpool in his league debut a week later on 20 August, against Middlesbrough. Dalglish also scored three days later on his Anfield debut in a 2–0 victory over Newcastle United, and he scored Liverpool's sixth goal when they beat Keegan's Hamburg 6–0 in the second leg of the 1977 UEFA Super Cup final. By the end of his first season with Liverpool, Dalglish had played 62 times and scored 31 goals, including the winning goal in the 1978 European Cup Final at Wembley against Bruges.
In his second season Dalglish recorded a personal best of 21 league goals for the club, and he was also named Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year. He did not miss a league game for Liverpool until the 1980–81 season, when he appeared in 34 out of 42 league games and scored only eight goals as Liverpool finished fifth in the league, but still won the European Cup and Football League Cup. He recovered his goal-scoring form the following season, and was an ever-present player in the league once again, scoring 13 goals as Liverpool became league champions for the 13th time, and the third time since Dalglish's arrival. It was also around this time that he began to form a potent strike partnership with Ian Rush; Dalglish began to play just off Rush, "running riot in the extra space afforded to him in the hole". Dalglish was voted PFA Player of the Year for the 1982–83 season, during which he scored 18 league goals as Liverpool retained their title. From 1983 Dalglish became less prolific as a goalscorer, though he remained a regular player.
After becoming player-manager on the retirement of Joe Fagan in the 1985 close season, Dalglish selected himself for just 21 First Division games in 1985–86 as Liverpool won the double, but he started the FA Cup final win over Everton. On the last day of the league season, his goal in a 1–0 away win over Chelsea gave Liverpool their 16th league title. Dalglish had a personally better campaign in the 1986–87 season, scoring six goals in 18 league appearances, but by then he was committed to giving younger players priority for a first team place.
With the sale of Ian Rush to Juventus in 1987, Dalglish formed a new striker partnership of new signings John Aldridge and Peter Beardsley for the 1987–88 season, and he played only twice in a league campaign which saw Liverpool gain their 17th title. Dalglish did not play in Liverpool's 1988–89 campaign, and he made his final league appearance on 5 May 1990 as a substitute against Derby. At 39, he was one of the oldest players ever to play for Liverpool. His final goal had come three years earlier, in a 3–0 home league win over Nottingham Forest on 18 April 1987.
Tommy Docherty gave Dalglish his debut for the Scottish national side as a substitute in the 1–0 Euro 1972 qualifier victory over Belgium on 10 November 1971 at Pittodrie. Dalglish scored his first goal for Scotland a year later on 15 November 1972 in the 2–0 World Cup qualifier win over Denmark at Hampden Park. Scotland eventually qualified and he went to the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, where they were eliminated during the group stages despite not losing any of their three games. In 1976, Dalglish scored the winning goal for Scotland at Hampden Park against England, by nutmegging Ray Clemence. A year later Dalglish scored against the same opponents and goalkeeper at Wembley, in another 2–1 win.
Dalglish went on to play in both the 1978 World Cup in Argentina – scoring against eventual runners-up the Netherlands in a famous 3–2 win – and the 1982 World Cup in Spain, scoring against New Zealand. On both occasions Scotland failed to get past the group stage. Dalglish was also selected for the 22-man squad travelling to Mexico for the 1986 World Cup, but had to withdraw due to injury.
In total, Dalglish played 102 times for Scotland (a national record) and he scored 30 goals, (also a national record, which matched that set by Denis Law.) Dalglish's final appearance for Scotland, after 15 years as a full international, was on 12 November 1986 at Hampden Park in a Euro 1988 qualifying game against Luxembourg, which Scotland won 3–0. His 30th and final international goal had been two years earlier, on 14 November 1984, in a 3–1 win over Spain in a World Cup qualifier, also at Hampden Park.
After the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985 and Joe Fagan's subsequent resignation as manager, Dalglish became player-manager of Liverpool. In his first season in charge in 1985–86, he guided the club to its first "double". Liverpool achieved this by winning the League Championship by two points over Everton (Dalglish himself scored the winner in a 1–0 victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to secure the title on the final day of the season), and the FA Cup by beating Everton in the final.
The 1986–87 season was trophyless for Liverpool. They lost 2–1 to Arsenal in the League Cup final at Wembley. Before the 1987–88 season, Dalglish signed two new players: striker Peter Beardsley from Newcastle and winger John Barnes from Watford. He had already purchased goalscorer John Aldridge from Oxford United (a replacement for Ian Rush, who was moving to Italy) in the spring of 1987 and early into the new campaign, bought Oxford United midfielder Ray Houghton. The new-look Liverpool side shaped by Dalglish topped the league for almost the entire season, and had a run of 37 matches unbeaten in all competitions (including 29 in the league; 22 wins and 7 draws) from the beginning of the season to 21 February 1988, when they lost to Everton in the league. Liverpool were crowned champions with four games left to play, having suffered just two defeats from 40 games. However, Dalglish's side lost the 1988 FA Cup Final to underdogs Wimbledon.
In the summer of 1988, Dalglish re-signed Ian Rush. Liverpool beat Everton 3–2 after extra time in the second all-Merseyside FA Cup final in 1989, but was deprived of a second Double in the final game of the season, when Arsenal secured a last-minute goal to take the title from Liverpool. In the 1989–90 season Liverpool won their third league title under Dalglish. They missed out on the Double and a third successive FA Cup final appearance when they lost 4–3 in extra-time to Crystal Palace in an FA Cup semi-final at Villa Park. At the end of the season Dalglish received his third Manager of the Year award. Dalglish resigned as manager of Liverpool on 22 February 1991, two days after a 4–4 draw with rivals Everton in an FA Cup fifth round tie at Goodison Park, in which Liverpool surrendered the lead four times. At the time of his resignation, the club were three points ahead in the league and still in contention for the FA Cup.
Dalglish was the manager of Liverpool at the time of the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April 1989. The disaster claimed 94 lives on the day, with the final death toll reaching 96. Dalglish attended many funerals of the victims – including four in one day. – and his presence in the aftermath of the disaster has been described as "colossal and heroic". Dalglish broke a twenty-year silence about the disaster in March 2009. He expressed regret that the police and the FA did not consider delaying the kick-off of the match, a move which might have averted the 96 deaths. During the Hillsborough Memorial Service on 15 April 2011, Liverpool MP Steve Rotherham announced he would submit an Early Day Motion to have Dalglish knighted, "not only for his outstanding playing and managerial career, but also the charity work he has done with his wife, Marina, for breast cancer support and what he did after Hillsborough. It is common knowledge it affected him deeply".
Dalglish returned to management in October 1991, at Second Division Blackburn Rovers. By the turn of 1992 they were top of the Second Division, and then suffered a dip in form before recovering to qualify for the playoffs, during which Dalglish led Blackburn into the new Premier League by beating Leicester City 1–0 in the Second Division Play-off final at Wembley. The resulting promotion meant that Blackburn were back in the top flight of English football for the first time since 1966. In the 1992 close season, Dalglish signed Southampton's Alan Shearer for a British record fee of £3.5 million. Despite a serious injury which ruled Shearer out for half the season, Dalglish achieved fourth position with the team in the first year of the new Premier League. The following year, Dalglish failed in an attempt to sign Roy Keane. Blackburn finished two positions higher the following season, as runners-up to Manchester United. By this time, Dalglish had added England internationals Tim Flowers and David Batty to his squad.
At the start of the 1994–95 season Dalglish paid a record £5 million for Chris Sutton, with whom Shearer formed an effective strike partnership. By the last game of the season, both Blackburn and Manchester United were in contention for the title. Blackburn had to travel to Liverpool, and Manchester United faced West Ham United in London. Blackburn lost 2–1, but still won the title since United failed to win in London. The title meant that Dalglish was only the fourth football manager in history to lead two different clubs to top-flight league championships, after Tom Watson, Herbert Chapman and Brian Clough. Dalglish became Director of Football at Blackburn in June 1995. He left the club at the end of the 1995–96 season after a disappointing campaign under his replacement, Ray Harford.
Following his departure from Blackburn Dalglish was appointed for a brief spell as an "international talent scout" at his boyhood club Rangers. He was reported as having played a central role in the signing of Chile international Sebastián Rozental.
In January 1997, Dalglish was appointed manager of Premier League side Newcastle United on a three-and-a-half-year contract, taking over from Kevin Keegan. Dalglish guided the club from fourth position to a runner-up spot in May and a place in the new format of the following season's UEFA Champions League. He then broke up the team which had finished 2nd two years running, selling popular players like Peter Beardsley, Lee Clark, Les Ferdinand and David Ginola and replaced them with ageing stars like John Barnes (34), Ian Rush (36) and Stuart Pearce (35), as well as virtual unknowns like Des Hamilton and Garry Brady. He also made some good long-term signings like Gary Speed and Shay Given. The 1997–98 campaign saw Newcastle finish in only 13th place and, despite Dalglish achieving some notable successes during the season (including a 3–2 UEFA Champions League win over Barcelona and an FA Cup final appearance against Arsenal), he was dismissed by Freddie Shepherd after two draws in the opening two games of the subsequent 1998–99 season, and replaced by former Chelsea manager Ruud Gullit. One commentator from The Independent has since written, "His 20 months at Newcastle United are the only part of Kenny Dalglish's career that came anywhere near failure".
In June 1999 he was appointed Director of Football at Celtic, with his former Liverpool signing John Barnes appointed as head coach. Barnes was dismissed in February 2000 and Dalglish was appointed manager, and he guided them to the Scottish League Cup final where they beat Aberdeen 2–0 at Hampden Park, and he left the club shortly thereafter. Dalglish was unhappy with the departure and Celtic's termination of his contract. He had recommended previous manager Barnes to the club and offered himself as a replacement manager should the young Barnes not succeed in the role. In spite of the termination of his contract, Dalglish vowed to stay on as Director of Football. After a brief legal battle, Dalglish accepted Celtic's settlement offer of £600,000.
In April 2009 Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez invited Dalglish to take up a role at the club's youth academy. The appointment was confirmed in July 2009, and Dalglish was also made the club's ambassador. Following Benítez's departure from Liverpool in June 2010, Dalglish was asked to help find a replacement, and in July Fulham's Roy Hodgson was appointed manager. However, a poor series of results at the start of the 2010–11 season led to Liverpool fans calling for Dalglish's return as manager as early as October 2010, and with no subsequent improvement in Liverpool's results up to the end of the year (during which time the club was bought by New England Sports Ventures), Hodgson left Liverpool and Dalglish was appointed caretaker manager on 8 January 2011. Dalglish's first game in charge was on 9 January 2011 at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, which Liverpool lost 1–0. Dalglish's first league game in charge was against Blackpool on 12 January 2011; Liverpool lost 2–1. After the game, Dalglish admitted that Liverpool faced "a big challenge".
Shortly after his appointment, Dalglish indicated he would like the job on a permanent basis if it was offered to him, and on 19 January the Liverpool chairman Tom Werner stated that the club's owners would favour this option. On 22 January 2011, Dalglish led Liverpool to their first win since his return, against Wolves at Molineux. After signing Andy Carroll from Newcastle for a British record transfer fee of £35 million and Luis Suárez from Ajax for £22.8 million at the end of January (in the wake of Fernando Torres's sale to Chelsea for £50 million), some journalists noted that Dalglish had begun to assert his authority at the club. Following a 1–0 victory against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in February 2011, described by Alan Smith as "a quite brilliant display in terms of discipline and spirit" and a "defensive masterplan" by David Pleat, Henry Winter wrote, "it can only be a matter of time before he [Dalglish] is confirmed as long-term manager".
On 12 May 2011, Liverpool announced that Dalglish had been given a three-year contract. His first official match in charge was 2-0 defeat to Harry Redknapp's Spurs at Anfield. Dalglish's second stint in charge at Anfield proved controversial at times. The Scot consistently defended Luis Suárez in the wake of the striker's eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra when the teams met in October 2011. After the Uruguayan's apparent refusal to shake Evra's hand in the return fixture in February 2012, an apology from both player and manager came only after the intervention of the owners.
In February 2012, Dalglish led Liverpool to their first trophy in six years, with victory in the 2011–12 Football League Cup. In the same season he also led Liverpool to the 2012 FA Cup Final where they lost 2–1 to Chelsea. Despite the success in domestic cups, Liverpool finished eighth in the league, their worst showing in the league since 1994, failing to qualify for Europe's Champions League for a third straight season. Following the end of the season, Liverpool dismissed Dalglish on 16 May 2012.
In October 2013, Dalglish returned to Liverpool as a non-executive director.
Dalglish has been married to Marina since 26 November 1974. The couple have four children, including Kelly, born 1975 and Paul, born 1977. Kelly is now a football presenter for BBC Radio 5 Live and Channel 5; Paul followed in his father's footsteps as a footballer, and is currently the head coach for Ottawa Fury FC. Dalglish's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2003, but she made a good recovery from the disease.
Dalglish was awarded an MBE in 1984, and his wife was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours list for services to charity.
In 2004, Dalglish and his wife founded the charity The Marina Dalglish Appeal to raise money to help treat cancer. Dalglish has participated in a number of events to raise money for the charity, including a replay of the 1986 FA Cup Final. In June 2007 a Centre for Oncology at University Hospital Aintree was opened, after the charity had raised £1.5 million. Dalglish often competes in the annual Gary Player Invitational Tournament, a charity golfing event which raises money for children's causes around the world. On 1 July 2011, Dalglish was awarded an honorary degree by the University of Ulster, for services to football and charity.Celtic
Scottish First Division (4): 1971–72, 1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77
Scottish Cup (4): 1971–72, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1976–77
Scottish League Cup (1): 1974–75
Football League First Division (6): 1978–79, 1979–80, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84, 1985–86
FA Cup (1): 1985–86
League Cup (4): 1980–81, 1981–82, 1982–83, 1983–84
Charity Shield (5): 1977 (shared), 1979, 1980, 1982, 1986 (shared)
European Cup (3): 1977–78, 1980–81, 1983–84
UEFA Super Cup (1): 1977
Football League First Division (3): 1985–86, 1987–88, 1989–90
FA Cup (2): 1985–86, 1988–89
League Cup (1): 2011–12
Super Cup (1): 1986–87
FA Charity Shield (4): 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990
Premier League (1): 1994–95
Football League Second Division Play Off Winners (1): 1991–92
Scottish League Cup (1): 1999–2000
Ballon d'Or: Runner-up 1983
IOC European Footballer of the Season: 1977–78
PFA Players' Player of the Year: 1982–83
FWA Footballer of the Year: 1978–79, 1982–83
FWA Tribute Award: 1987
English Football Hall of Fame (Player): 2002
Scottish Football Hall of Fame: 2004
European Hall of Fame (Player): 2008
Member of the Order of the British Empire: 1984
Scores and results list Scotland's goal tally first.