Gerry Byrne played most of his football during a decade, the 1960s, when the professional game celebrated its hard men.
There was Tommy Smith, Byrne's teammate at Liverpool , "Chopper" Harris at Chelsea, Norman "bites yer legs" Hunter at Leeds United, Dave Mackay at Spurs and many more.
Byrne might well have been tougher than any of them but he was not inclined to make a fuss about it.
Never once sent off in a one-club career at Anfield spanning a dozen years and 333 league and cup games, Byrne was hard but honest. He was known as "The Crunch" but the reference was to tackles that invariably claimed the ball.
Byrne said: "I was nicknamed the 'Crunch'. I was a clean player. I was hard, but fair. I used to wait for the ball to come and then I was on my way. You hit someone when the ball was there and that was it. That's how I got the crunch. I didn't go after players intentionally. I was never sent off in my life."
Although naturally right footed, he played left back for most of his career and there were few better in the English game.
Bill Shankly, who gave Byrne's career lift-off after several years as a bit part player at Anfield described him as "the best professional I worked with."
Reflecting on Byrne's career in 1975, Shankly said: "He wasn't flashy and he would not score you goals but he was hard and skillful and gave you everything he had. More than that he was totally honest, which is the greatest quality of all.
"He was a true Liverpudlian who couldn't look his fellow Scousers in the face after a game unless he'd given everything he had for 90 minutes."
He was also quiet and undemonstrative around the other players in the Anfield dressing room. "I never spoke up very often," Byrne admitted in later life.
Byrne is best remembered for playing most of the 1965 FA Cup final with a broken collarbone.
In spite of being in considerable pain he played right through the match and half an hour of extra time, setting up Liverpool's first goal for Roger Hunt, while offering opponents Leeds United scarcely a clue about his physical distress.
When Liverpool's trainer Bob Paisley told him he had broken his collarbone in a seventh minute challenge with Bobby Collins, "I'll get by," was Byrne's response.
It was a typical piece of understatement from a reserved character who went on to deliver a performance very similar to hundreds of those he gave in Liverpool shirt.
After Liverpool won the Cup for first time in their history Shankly said of Byrne's contribution: "It was a performance of raw courage."
Byrne's heroics made a lasting impact on the wider game.
The 1965 final was the fifth in 11 years in which a player suffered a fracture at Wembley. Two years later the FA finally permitted substitutes to be selected by each team in competitive matches.
Byrne already had a Second Division title medal and a first division Championship medal to his name when he walked up the steps at Wembley. A year later he would collect another Championship medal.
He won two England caps and was a member of the 1966 World Cup squad. He could count himself a little unfortunate to be around at the time the national team boasted an exceptional left back in Everton's Ray Wilson.
Gerry Byrne was born in Liverpool on August 29, 1938 and joined the staff at Anfield straight from school, at the age of 15. He did well enough to be offered a professional contract by Liverpool manager Don Welsh at the age of 17. He recalled earning £12 a week during the season, £8 a week through the summer months.
Two years later Byrne made his first-team debut on a day when Liverpool suffered a 5-1 hammering at Charlton Athletic in September 1957. The youngster made a nightmare start, scoring an own goal.
He recalled many years later: "You wish the ground would swallow you up when you score a goal like that. I just passed it back to Tommy Lawrence and he wasn't there. I got terrible abuse from the crowd."
His career took a turn for the better after Shankly arrived to take over as manager at Anfield in December 1959.
Shankly took Byrne's name off the transfer list and put it on the team sheet on a regular basis. He played 38 league and cup games in Shankly's first full season in charge and was an ever present when the Reds stormed to be Second Division title in 1961/62. He cut his hair short "trying to look tough," Byrne remembered.
After the 1965 Cup final, Byrne did not need a haircut to warn opponents of how hard he was.
Paisley remembered fearing the worst as soon as Byrne fell to the Wembley turf in a seventh minute challenge with Collins, who had a fierce reputation of his own.
"All my training over the years had taught me to recognise the difference between a player who was simply going down for a rest and one who had been hurt," Paisley said.
"Gerry was as hard as nails but as I ran across from the Wembley benches to where he lay on the pitch I didn’t need telling that we could be in a fix.
"As soon as I reached him I knew that my initial touchline diagnosis had been painfully accurate. He had broken his collar bone.
"My first reaction should have been to wave to the bench to call for a stretcher. But Gerry got in first. Looking up at me he pleaded: 'Don’t tell anyone!'
"Gerry still insisted on playing on through the remaining 87 minutes and, as it happened, another half hour of extra time.
"I'll swear that neither the Leeds United management team who were on the benches alongside us, or the 11 Leeds United players out on the park had any inkling about the extent of Gerry’s injury."
The following season Byrne dislocated his elbow in a European Cup Winners' Cup match against Celtic at Parkhead. Although in great pain he stayed on until ten minutes from the end. An x-ray at a hospital the following day confirmed there was no fracture and he played in Liverpool's next First Division game against Stoke City.
Courage alone could not help Byrne deal with the knee injury he sustained shortly after returning from the '66 World Cup with Liverpool team-mates Roger Hunt and Ian Callaghan.
The incident happened during a game with Leicester City.
Byrne said: "There was nobody near me. I twisted and my studs stayed in the ground. It's usually worse when nobody is near you. My knee used to swell up." He missed much of the 1966-67 season.
As Shankly belatedly broke up his 1960s team, some players moved off to other clubs but Byrne opted for retirement in 1969.
Shankly felt the loss of his brave full-back more keenly than other departures. "When Gerry went, it took a big chunk out of Liverpool. Something special was missing," Shankly said.
The 1968-69 was Gerry Byrne's last season as a Liverpool player. Although he had celebrated his 30th birthday a few days into the season and was by no means over the hill as a player, the injury problems which had undermined most of the 1966-67 season troubled him again.
He made his final Liverpool appearance against Wolves at Anfield in April 1969.
Byrne's reward for a career which had seen him play 333 times for the first-team in all competitions, was a testimonial match later that year attended by around 40,000 people, who braved appalling conditions to pay tribute and watch a match between Liverpool and an All Stars XI.
Byrne was presented with a World Cup winners' medal at a special ceremony in London in 2009 to mark the fact he had been a member of England's 22-man squad in 1966, although he did not play in any of the six matches.
Source: Liverpool Echo