Former Liverpool striker David Johnson’s brilliance did not get the credit it deserved, but he had “the medals to prove it”, according to John Aldridge.
Johnson, who scored 78 goals in 213 appearances over six years at Anfield, sandwiched between two spells at Everton and four years at Ipswich, has died at the age of 71.
Liverpool-born Johnson, who played eight times for England and scored six goals, won two European Cups and four league titles with the Reds.
“It’s a real sad day because Dave was so highly-thought of, so highly-respected,” Aldridge, another ex-Liverpool striker, told the PA news agency.
“He was an excellent player. I remember him from his Ipswich days and I actually went there to watch them play Liverpool – six hours on the train and we got beat 1-0.
“The Doc (a nickname given to him because he always kept cough sweets and headache tablets in his bag) either made the goal or scored the goal for Ipswich and I’ll never forgive him for that.
“He probably didn’t get the credit he deserved because of the great players like Kenny (Dalglish) he was around.
“He was brilliant, had a good goals-to-game ratio – and he’s got the medals to prove it.
“Our thoughts are with his family as he will leave a huge hole for all of us.”
Johnson’s former Liverpool team-mates were united in their tributes, with midfielder Terry McDermott writing on Twitter: “Heartbroken to hear the passing of my great mate and Liverpool legend David ‘the Doc’ Johnson.
“A diamond of a man who we will all miss so much. I will miss our crack on the phone and on @LFC match days, you were a one in a million.”
David Fairclough tweeted: “Shared so many great moments and memories with ‘Jono’. Today is a very sad day. Condolences to all Dave’s family. RIP ‘Doc’.”
Phil Thompson wrote on Twitter: “A very sad morning to wake up and hear our great mate Dave (Doc) Johnno has passed away, you will be greatly missed pal RIP.”
Liverpool and Everton both said they were “saddened” by Johnson’s death and their thoughts were with his family and friends.
Johnson began his career at Goodison and scored in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool in 1971. He would go on to score for the Reds against Everton nine years later.
Johnson had a successful spell at Ipswich before moving to Liverpool in 1976 for a club record fee of £200,000.
He went on to win three league titles at Anfield as well as a European Cup winners’ medal in 1981.
But Ian Rush’s emergence relegated Johnson to the bench the following season and he re-signed for Everton in August 1982.
Johnson later played for Barnsley, Manchester City, American side Tulsa Roughnecks, Preston and had a spell as player-manager at Barrow before retiring in 1986.