Former Liverpool and Everton striker David Johnson has died at the age of 71. Johnson, who was from Halewood, had been ill for some time having been diagnosed with throat cancer in recent years.
During his playing career, Johnson had two spells at Everton and also spent four years at Ipswich Town along with later brief stops at Barnsley, Manchester City, Preston North End and in the United States and Malta.
But it was during six years at Liverpool where the forward enjoyed his greatest success, winning four league championships, two European Cups, one League Cup and a UEFA Super Cup.
Despite growing up as a Reds supporter, Johnson joined Everton as a youngster and impressed sufficiently for then Liverpool boss Bill Shankly to launch a concerted but failed effort to take him to Anfield.
Johnson was 19 when he made his Blues debut in January 1971, scoring in a 2-2 league draw at Burnley. That season he went on to net on his FA Cup debut against Derby County and his European bow against Panathinaikos, although he suffered the disappointment of being left out of the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, which Everton lost 2-1.
Johnson scored the winner on his derby debut in November 1971, but despite being a regular goalscorer he was transferred to Ipswich in November 1972 in exchange for Rod Belfitt and £40,000.
He found Portman Road to his liking and was part of a Ipswich side that, under future England manager Bobby Robson, finished no lower than sixth in his four seasons at the club, during which he also earned a first England cap.
Such form earned Johnson a move to back to Merseyside where he signed for Liverpool in a £200,000 deal in August 1976 as a long-term replacement for John Toshack. He began and finished his first season as a regular starter and claimed a first league championship medal, but after beginning the FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United he was an unused substitute in the European Cup final triumph against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Johnson soon acquired the nickname of 'the Doc', which he explained: "Everyone used to go to my bag to use my gear. Terry Mac (McDermott) went in there one time and took out all these pills and stuff and said 'it's like a flippin' doctor's bag' and after that, it just stuck."
While a playing substitute in the UEFA Super Cup victory against Hamburg, Johnson struggled to make the first-team the following campaign - although he did net the only goal at Goodison to become the first person to score for both sides in a Merseyside derby, a feat only later achieved by Peter Beardsley - and, after regaining his place, missed out on Liverpool retaining the European Cup against Bruges after tearing his knee ligaments the previous month. The 1978/79 campaign was more profitable on his return from injury, with Johnson scoring 18 times as Liverpool romped to the title. And the following year he had his best season when scoring 27 goals alongside Kenny Dalglish, netting twice in the 4-1 win over Aston Villa that sealed another championship. Johnson was then called up to the England squad for the 1980 European Championships, ending with eight caps for his country.
Johnson was absent from the League Cup final win against West Ham United in 1981 but started the European Cup final triumph over Real Madrid. He earned another league title and League Cup the following year, but the emergence of Ian Rush restricted first-team opportunities and he moved back to Everton in August 1982 after 78 goals in 213 appearances for the Reds.
His further two years at the Blues took him on to 20 goals in 105 appearances for Everton over his two spells at the club, before a loan at Barnsley and brief stays with Manchester City, Preston North End, USA side Tulisa Roughnecks and Naxxar Lions in Malta. www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/spor