This week saw the announcement from former Fulham captain Danny Murphy that he was retiring from Professional Football.
In an age where a club like Fulham is often a stepping stone for players on the way up, or the way down, it is rare for players to ever achieve legendary status amongst the fans. Danny Murphy is one such player.
With the modern player stays are often short, exits can be acrimonious and performances often wavering. Not with our Danny. When Martin Jol decided to call time on Murphy’s Fulham career after five years, Danny showed immeasurable class in not speaking out, despite obvious and justified disappointment.
The last leg of his career saw him drop down a division with the promise of a two year contract from fallen former Premierleague champions Blackburn Rovers. It seems an ill-fitting end that such a top performer and footballing gentleman’s last professional appearances were under-appreciated and largely unseen in a division where brute force dominates ahead of wisdom and guile.
As ever, though, Danny, the model professional, simply got on with life in the Championship. Symbolic of a career where under-appreciation was a recurring theme; despite 170 league appearances for Liverpool, Danny was often overshadowed in the eyes of some by the meteoric rise of some of those around him, in particular Steven Gerrard. While Gerrard, now England captain, made an early career living out of 35 yard wonder strikes and 60 yard passes, it was Murphy that made Liverpool tick. Like Fulham fans, Liverpool fans would never forget Danny.
A Liverpool supporting friend of mine would always come to Fulham once or twice a season with me when Danny was at Craven Cottage, only to spend 90 minutes watching and cheering Murphy’s every move. As a Liverpool fan, Danny was one of them.
He is also one of us. His leadership, desire and ability made him a favourite amongst the Fulham Faithful. That goal at Portsmouth, one of the single most important in Fulham’s history, can never be forgotten.
That goal alone would have led Danny to go down in Fulham folklore. It was what followed that made him a legend.
The run to the Europa League Final saw Danny lead Fulham on our greatest ever adventure. There was a goal at home to Basel that I remember, but furthermore it was his leadership. A talisman, Danny symbolised all that was good about Roy Hodgson’s Fulham. Honest, hardworking and with a touch of flair.
Danny also had that special something that the rest of football would kill for – the uncanny ability to beat Manchester United. There were the free kicks at Old Trafford in his Liverpool days and then there were the victories for Fulham. For two glorious years the biggest team in English football were surreptitiously beaten and forced to leave Craven Cottage with their tails between their legs. Oh those were the days.
Since his departure there has been a void at Fulham. Whether it’s the on field leadership, the role of the off-field figurehead, the Murphy turn that always won him time on the ball or the ability to play a pass when you needed it most, he’s never quite been replaced. To suggest he could be would be remiss. Players like Danny don’t come along very often. Thankfully, we could call this one our own.
Thanks for everything Danny and best of luck for the future. You’re welcome back any time.