9 Elite Sports Stars Born In Liverpool
Liverpool has historically been a hotbed for producing elite sporting talent, punching above its weight in relation to its population. Stemming from the strong amateur scene across the city, sporting activity (particularly football & boxing) is culturally ingrained in the locals. Strike up a conversation in the pub, and there’s more than a fair chance you’ll get told they played football or had a go at boxing at some point in their past (to a great standard too….would have been pro if it wasn’t for their dodgy knee…..)
Anyway, I decided to compile a short list of local, elite talent, so here it is….
9 elite sports stars born in Liverpool…
- Wayne Rooney – I’ve got to be honest; I hated him when he played. I can also say that the reason I hated him was purely because he was just so good, and he played for the two teams I dislike the most Everton & Man United! Born and raised in Liverpool, Wayne Rooney is one of the most famous footballers to come out of the city. Starting his career at his boyhood club Everton, it was clear, even at 16 (yes, you read that correctly, he held the record for the youngest goalscorer at the time…), he had ability miles above all but a small gifted few in the Premier League at the time. Remember his league debut? In 2004, aged 18, Manchester United came calling. Fast forward 13 years, and he left having won everything under the sun, & as United’s leading goal scorer, with 253 goals in 559 appearances. This is coming from a player who, for large parts of his United career, didn’t play as a number 9. Interestingly, he reveals in the recent Amazon documentary about his life that he struggled with drinking during his playing career, which makes his achievements (& raw ability) all the more astonishing given the level of fitness required through the era he played.
- Steven Gerrard – Raised on the Bluebell estate in Huyton, Gerrard’s rise to prominence and his remarkable achievements as Liverpool captain solidified his status as not just one of the greatest footballers to have come from Liverpool but one of the best that England has ever produced. His highlight reel is something Roy of the Rovers would be envious of, and he’s one of the few players in Liverpool’s history who could arguably lay claim to having won Liverpool trophies almost on his own. The only time I’ve seen him look out of sorts is here.
- Tony Bellew – A former professional boxer, Tony Bellew hails from the Toxteth area of Liverpool. He competed in both the Cruiserweight& Heavyweight divisions and held multiple titles throughout his career, retiring from professional boxing with 30 wins from 34 fights, & 3 losses. What is worthy of note is that those 3 losses came from reigning world champions. Bellew gained significant recognition for his rivalry and eventual victories against British boxer David Haye. He is now a regular commentator and TV personality.
- John Conteh – Another former professional boxer. He had an impressive career, particularly in the light heavyweight division. Conteh won the WBC world light heavyweight title in 1974 and is considered one of Britain’s finest boxers. Interestingly, he featured on the front cover of Paul McCartney’s 1973, ‘Band on the Run album. Born in May of 1951, one of nine (yes, NINE) siblings, John was the son of an Irish mother & Sierra Leonian father (who was a merchant seaman). His dad decided that in an effort to keep them away from local gangs, he would take the boys to a boxing club in Kirkby. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Paddy ‘The Paddy’ Pimblett – Currently 4-0 in the UFC (with 3 of those being awarded fight of the night), Paddy has already made himself a box office star. He has also received notoriety for his antics outside the ring, famously ballooning in weight between fights, owing to an unrivalled and well-documented appetite for fast food (check his social media ). Whatever people may think of him, he undeniably knows how to sell himself and create headlines. With the right amount of arrogance, and unapologetic Scouse swagger, all backed up by ability, he has had a meteoric rise in the UFC alongside his friend and fellow UFC fighter, ‘Meatball’ Molly (6. below). Aged only 28, and with products, merchandise & a foundation now launched, there’s still plenty to come from Paddy both in and out of the ring.
- ‘Meatball’ Molly McCann – Affectionately nicknamed ‘Meatball’ owed to having worked in Subway before turning to MMA full-time; Molly McCann is a hugely popular figure within the UFC. The rise of both Meatball & Paddy Pimblett’s profiles has occurred seemingly in unison. Becoming close friends, they frequently appear in the media & promotions together (even having a joint mural made by Murwalls as recognition, the unveiling of which can be seen here. Both working class, confident with the capability to back up the mouth, Meatball’s last few fights have been the very definition of ‘edge of your seat’, including 2 sensational KO wins through perfectly executed spinning elbows (along with the accolade “performance of the night”), followed by a defeat in UFC 281 to Erin Blanchfield back in Nov ’22. We currently await news of her next scheduled fight.
- Steve McManaman – Born and raised in Kirkdale, Liverpool (although you wouldn’t know it these days, with his somewhat annoying penchant for over-enunciating his ‘ings’ when doing his day job on BT…” What was he thinkING there?”….), “Macca” has now become a seemingly underrated footballer from Liverpool’s history. A hugely talented, athletic, skilful, intelligent footballer. He played a significant role in a transitioning Liverpool team during the 1990s before moving to Real Madrid, where he won multiple Champions League titles. The lack of positive sentiment by some may be partly due to his rather acrimonious departure (leaving on a free transfer). However, it has come to light in more recent years that Liverpool actually tried to sell him the year before to Barcelona. Having got wind of this, he, perhaps fairly, decided to take matters into his own hands and moved to Madrid after his contract ran out.
- Robbie Fowler – Nicknamed “God” by Liverpool supporters, most people, when recalling Fowler’s ability, will eventually land on the word “natural”. Another person on the list hails from Toccy (Toxteth). At a time when the club had been sleepwalking into decline, Fowler literally burst onto the scene and, for a few seasons, was genuinely incredible. The Liverpool fans adored him; He was a scally from Toxteth & he was ours. Fowler scored 183 goals in 369 appearances for Liverpool.
- Natasha Jonas – from…take a guess (if you guessed Toxteth, give yourself a pat on the back…turns out I could have compiled a list from there alone). Already a trailblazer in women’s boxing, having become the first female boxer to represent the UK at the Olympic Games in 2012, reaching the quarter-final to be beaten by arguably the greatest female boxer of all time Katie Taylor. Fast-forward to May of 2021 & Natasha is facing up to Taylor again. With all four versions of the Lightweight titles on the line in a real “Super Fight” for the sport, unfortunately, history repeated itself in the professional arena, as she succumbed to defeat by unanimous decision. It would be completely understandable if, at this point in her illustrious career, Natasha decided to call it a day and move on to start another chapter away from boxing. However, Natasha’s achievements since that night have been nothing short of incredible. Back in February 2022, on the undercard of the Amir Khan & Kell Brook fight, Natasha, at the age of 37, made history by stepping up an incredible 3 weight classes to win the WBO super Welterweight title by beating opponent Chris Namus in a 2nd round stoppage. Picking up the WBC version of the title in September after dispatching Particia Berghult, Natasha went for the hat trick in November 2022 by taking the IBF title from Marie Eve DiCaire. Showing no signs of slowing down, her next fight is scheduled for next week (1st July) against Kandi Wyatt at the Manchester Arena.
Have I missed anyone? Let me know!
I have tried to pick people from various sporting disciplines, but I only get a few hours spare to write, so apologies for any glaring omissions! The city has produced numerous talented athletes across various sports throughout its rich sporting history & these are just a few notable stars who were born in Liverpool.