Merseyside Sports Personality of the Year 2003: Owen: Rushie's an Inspiration; Bill Shankly Award

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Byline: CHRIS BASCOMBE

ANFIELD striking legends past and present united to celebrate the Bill Shankly Memorial Award at the ECHO Sports Personality dinner last night.

Liverpool's greatest ever goalscorer, Ian Rush, was honoured by current King of the Kop,Michael Owen.

Owen paid tribute to his coach and friend after presenting Rush with the coveted trophy.

The current Liverpool superstar said the influence of Rush would continue to inspire every youngster on Merseyside.

Owen said: ``Rushie's the one who's set the standard for anyone who plays for either Liverpool or Everton.

``Whoever took the shirt of Ian Rush once he'dleft Liverpool had to be great in their own right.

``At Liverpool, it needed someone of the quality of Robbie Fowler to come along to wear the number nine. I don't think there are many who'dhave been capable of wearing the jersey after Rushie.

``It shows how good Robbie was to come even close to Rushie.

``Rushie is what you call a true finisher. People often use the phrase `naturalgoalscorer', and when they do Ian Rush's name will forever spring immediately to mind.

``But apart from that,as a fellow striker,I'd say one of his biggest influences on us all is the fact he did so much more outside the box.

``Rushie was one of the most hard-working strikers there's ever been. Not only was he a great goalscorer,defensively he was fantastic too.

``He will always be regarded as one of the greatest strikers there's ever been in world football, so it's a pleasure to work with him now he's joined theLiverpool coaching staff. …