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Famous Like Me > Footballer > J > Craig Johnston

Profile of Craig Johnston on Famous Like Me

Name: Craig Johnston  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 25th June 1960
Place of Birth: Johannesburg
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Craig Johnston (born December 8, 1960 in Johannesburg, South Africa) was a footballer who became the first Australian to make a major impact in the English game.

Despite his South African place of birth, Johnston was born to Australian parents and grew up there with a father who himself had tried to make a living from the game in England but failed.

Johnston overcame an appalling bout of the polio-related condition osteomyelitis in his childhood (doctors had suggested an amputation of his leg but his mother refused and sent him to the USA for treatment) and as he grew up found he could play football to a good standard. The game barely existed in Australia to any great level so at the age of 15 he wrote off to a long list of English clubs asking for a trial.

Only one replied and invited him over, so Johnston's parents lived their son's dream and sold their house to fund his ticket to Teesside where he would train and play with Middlesbrough, managed by Jack Charlton.

He was offered a youth contract after the trial proved successful and then made his first-team debut against Everton while still a teenager and scored a goal. In 1981, aged 20, Johnston was bought by Liverpool for 570,000 pounds.

Though Johnston was a crowd favourite at Anfield during his long spell with the club, he was never a regular in the side, with his versatility in midfield and as a striker counting against him. His managers - Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan and Kenny Dalglish - often kept him in reserve owing to the specialists in those positions available to them.

That said, Johnston settled down on Merseyside and won the League championship in 1982 (though missed out on the League Cup success the same year) and then played in the side which retained both of those trophies the same year.

In 1984, he was part of the team which won a treble of League championship, League Cup and European Cup; two years later he was an integral part of the side which won only the third League championship and FA Cup "double" of the 20th century.

In the final of the FA Cup at Wembley, Liverpool were trailing 1-0 at half time to Everton but came back to win 3-1. Ian Rush scored the first goal though Johnston tried to steal it, sliding in to touch the ball as it crossed the goal line. However, just six minutes later, Johnston had a goal to call his own as he tapped home a cross from Jan Mølby. Rush then sealed the win with a late third.

Johnston continued to flit in and out of the team over the next two years, and became a cult figure at Anfield, with his flowing, corkscrew locks and flamboyant dress sense. In 1988, he was a frequent substitute and occasional starter as Liverpool coasted to the League title and reached the FA Cup final, where they would aim to complete a second "double". Johnston, ever the man for keeping an eye on fads, wrote the club's traditional Cup final song called Anfield Rap which combined pro-Liverpool lyrics with the rap and house trends of the time. The other Liverpool players took part graciously in both song and video - indeed, John Barnes proved so proficient at rapping that he got a similar role in "World in Motion, the England song for the World Cup two years later. The record got to No.3 in the UK charts.

Johnston never played international football for either South Africa or Australia, perhaps surprisingly for the latter, but did represent England at under-21 and 'B' team level. He was, however, as surprised as he was delighted when he got a call-up for the full England squad in 1988.

He qualified for England through his British passport and long-time residency. However, he never got into the team and ended up with no full international caps at all.

Just days before the 1988 FA Cup final at Wembley against Wimbledon was due to take place, Johnston incurred his manager's wrath when he announced his premature retirement from Liverpool. Dalglish was livid but later relented and gave his blessing to Johnston when he found out the reason for the player's decision.

In a hospital in Morocco earlier in the year was Johnston's sister, who was seriously ill. By the end of the season, it was clear she needed round the clock recovery back home in Australia and Johnston wished to provide that care. He came on as a substitute for John Aldridge in the final (who had just seen his penalty saved with Liverpool a goal down) but ended up on the losing side. He never wore a Liverpool shirt again.

When the Hillsborough disaster occurred in 1989, a year after Johnston's departure, he raised a fortune in Australia for the fund and also flew back to England to attend funerals and memorial services. He later dedicated his autobiography, titled Walk Alone, to the victims of the Heysel and Hillsborough disasters.

In retirement, Johnston has become a successful businessman and innovator, putting together the prototype for the Adidas football boot Predator, now worn by many of the world's top players of both football and rugby. He later designed another innovative boot called The Pig.

In recent times, Johnston invested heavily in a football school idea for inner city children but failed to win expected business backing and went bankrupt.

Though he travels the world with his business interests, Johnston remains based in Australia.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Craig Johnston