PETER SHILTON: Ray Clemence was my rival on the field and we competed for the England No 1 shirt… but off it we were always great mates, roomed together for 10 years and never talked about football
- Ex-Liverpool, Tottenham and England keeper Ray Clemence has died aged 72
- Clemence and Peter Shilton competed for the England No 1 shirt for a decade
- Their clubs, Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, had a great rivalry at the time
- But off the field, the pair were close friends and the rivalry didn’t change that
- Ray was a warm man with a great sense of humour and fun on a night out
This is a devastating day for me. Ray was a rival and an England colleague over the years but more importantly he was my friend.
I knew he had been unwell and in hospital. We had exchanged texts and the last one I have from him was a ‘thumbs up’. He did not want people to worry about him. That was typical of him.
Back in the day we were competitors, both aiming to be England number one. But we always got and even roomed together for ten years on England duty. And the thing is, we never talked about football.
Ray Clemence (left) and Peter Shilton pictured on international duty with England in 1979. They were club rivals and competed for the England gloves, but were also close friends
Former Liverpool, Tottenham and England goalkeeper Clemence has died at the age of 72
Ray was a warm man with a great sense of humour so would spend most of our time laughing. It was not frowned upon to socialise on England duty back then and even have a drink and we used to do that.
He was great fun on a night out and that continued once we had both retired, at reunions and golf days and things. It was always great to see him.
On the field he was a very natural goalkeeper. He was tall and incredibly athletic and had great hands. Ray was totally reliable and unfussy. He was not showy or extravagant but of his era there were very few better.
For a while I was at Nottingham Forest while he was at Liverpool and there was great rivalry between the clubs. But for us it never changed a thing. We were mates.
Shilton and Clemence competed for the England No 1 jersey for a decade and were club rivals
The two England goalkeepers pictured during a training session in January 1973
For a period England manager Ron Greenwood used to rotate me and Ray. One game, I would play and the next it would be Ray.
But for the 1982 World Cup in Spain Ron decided that only one of us would play and he sat us down and told us that it was going to me.
I know how I would have felt had I been Ray’s position but he never let that disappointment or upset show. He just got on with it and I can’t pay him any greater compliment than that really.
Shilton (left) and Clemence flank Kevin Keegan in a 1981 picture from England duty
England manager Ron Greenwood rotated the goalkeeping duties between the pair
I think Ray would admit that I was a more enthusiastic trainer than he was but of course he went on to be a very good and respected goalkeeping coach with England.
Once before a big England game I was on the sidelines doing some work for Sky and Ray was on the pitch doing some work with Paul Robinson. I realised he was using one of the routines that I had devised.
I shouted across to him. ‘Clem, you have nicked my drills mate!’. He just laughed. It was ‘Sorry Shilts!!’.
That is how I will remember him. That big smile. I still can’t believe he has gone at such a young age.
CLEMENCE’S CAREER IN NUMBERS
3 – European Cup triumphs with Liverpool
5 – First Division titles won while at Anfield
16 – a then top-flight record low number of goals conceded over 42 games in the 1978/79 First Division season
61 – England caps, having shared the number one jersey with Peter Shilton
240 – league appearances for Tottenham
323 – clean sheets during his Liverpool career
336 – consecutive games played between September 9, 1972 and March 4, 1978
665 – total appearances for Liverpool before joining Tottenham in the summer of 1981
1972 – Clemence made his England debut in a World Cup qualifier against Wales in November 1972
1983 – his last England cap came during a European Championship qualifier against Luxembourg in November 1983
18,000 – the fee in pounds paid by Liverpool to sign an 18-year-old Clemence from Scunthorpe in the summer of 1967