Scotland and Liverpool goalkeeper

Born: 4 May 4, 1940;

Died: 10 January 10, 2018

TOMMY Lawrence, who has died aged 77, was a goalkeeper who played in Bill Shankly's first great Liverpool side of the 1960s; originally from Ayrshire, he was also capped for Scotland three times.

Born Thomas Johnstone Lawrence in the village of Dailly, he was a childhood Ayr United supporter but was largely brought up in Cheshire, after his family moved south. He played his youth football in the rugby league hot spot of Warrington, with Warrington Town, while working in the local Rylands wire-making factory.

Liverpool manager Phil Taylor signed him for the Reds in 1957, aged just 17, but he had to wait in line behind fellow Scots Tommy Younger and Bert Slater, before Bill Shankly gave him his debut, against West Brom, at the Hawthorns, on 27 October, 1962, Albion won 1-0.

It was the first of 390 first-team appearances over the next eight years, during which, under Shankly, Liverpool became established as one of the biggest clubs not only in England, but in Europe.

His consistency was remarkable – in those eight years as first-choice goalkeeper for the club, he missed a mere six games. Along the way he won the old Football League First Division title twice, in 1963-64 and 1965-66, the FA Cup in 1965 and the FA Charity Shield in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

He also played in the European Cup-Winners Cup Final, at Hampden, which Liverpool lost 2-1 to Borussia Dortmund, after extra time. Earlier in that campaign, he had back-stopped Liverpool over both legs of their 2-1 semi-final win over Celtic.

Lawrence, having finally made the first-team breakthrough with Liverpool was soon on the SFA's radar. After a mere six first-team appearances for Liverpool he was rewarded with what would be his only Scotland Under-23 cap, in a 2-0 win over Wales at Pittodrie.

At the end of that season, in June, 1963, he won the first of an eventual three Scotland caps in a 1-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin, during an end-of-season European tour.

He then disappeared from the international scene for six years, before being brought back for the 1970 World Cup qualifier against West Germany, at Hampden, in April, 1969. That match finished 1-1. His final cap came in the Home Internationals in May, 1969, when he played against Wales in the opening fixture, in Wrexham. He collided with a goal post in that match and had to go off, to be replaced by Jim Herriot, as Scotland won 5-3.

At the start of the 1970 season, looking to build for the future, Shankly recruited young Scunthorpe United goalkeeper Ray Clemence but, Lawrence began the season as first-choice, holding his place until, after Liverpool lost 1-0 to Watford in the sixth round of the FA Cup, he, along with fellow Scots Ron Yeats and Ian St John, was dropped.

He only played one more game for Liverpool, a 2-2 draw with Manchester City, at Maine Road in April, 1971. In November of that year he crossed the Mersey to sign for Tranmere Rovers, now managed by Yeats. He spent three seasons with Tranmere, for whom he made over 80 appearances, before dropping into non-league football with Chorley Town, and finally "hanging up his gloves" – not that he ever wore them, he played in the era when keepers went bare-handed, in 1973.

He then returned to Rylands, his first employers on leaving school, where he worked as a quality controller until his retirement.

Lawrence, who earned the affectionate nickname The Flying Pig because he was unusually agile for a man who weighed over 14 stones, is often cited as one of the first sweeper-keepers, because he was willing to leave his penalty area to clear-up long balls, after Shankly decided this was a good tactic. The Anfield Kop, however, was not so-certain when Lawrence first began to leave his area; he recalled hearing what he felt was the entire Kop support yelling at him to: “Get back in your box Tommy.”

After many years in quiet obscurity, he emerged for one last, brief, spell in the spotlight, when, in 2015 BBC reporter Stuart Flinders, doing a vox pop in the streets of Liverpool, asked the 75-year old if he remembered the 1967 Everton v Liverpool FA Cup Merseyside Derby.

“Remember it. I do, I played in goal for Liverpool in that match,” was the unexpected reply. The clip subsequently went viral, receiving over eight million views world-wide.

Although he left Ayrshire as a boy, one of his Scotland jerseys returned there, after he presented it to one of his cousins, who ran a pub in Ayr; and the framed jersey had pride of place behind the bar for many years.

Tommy Lawrence, who was married twice, is survived by his second wife Ellie, and three children from each marriage.