Jan Molby, to all football fans of the eighties, was a ball playing midfielder of supreme talent, who held his own in that all conquering Liverpool team. He immediately won over the Anfield support with his displays on the pitch, not to mention his famous take on the Liverpool accent. He was accused of being overweight almost all the way through his career and although it was undeniable that he possessed a more burly figure than many of his contemporaries, those who concentrated on his size would miss the point entirely. His vision and passing ability, coupled with his sense of position and overall sense of awareness, were far more valuable than the pace offered by more sleekly-built players.
He began playing at the age of 5 at a club called Kolding – by the age of 18 he was at Dutch giants Ajax. It is little known in this country that prior to his arrival at Anfield; he had already won a Dutch League and Cup double – playing with such footballing legends such as Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit. In 1984 as he signed for Liverpool for £575,000, he knew he would make an impact and was not daunted in the slightest at the players he was going to have to emulate in the famous red shirt. He proved his confidence was well placed as he collected three titles, two FA Cups and a bagful of runners-up medals at Liverpool. Mark Lawrenson once remarked of his former Liverpool teammate:
"Jan was the sort of player who could turn a game with one pass. He would disappear for long periods and then pop up again with one moment of inspiration. With a player like Ian Rush in the side, you only needed one chance to score a goal. More often than not, Jan was the one who would unlock the defence. He was an inspired signing."
The midfielder remained with Liverpool for a total of twelve years. Molby's record as a penalty-taker says all about his nerves of steel – he took a total of 40 spot kicks for the Reds, and only missed two. He also demonstrated great versatility in the red shirt, appearing as a defender when he came back from a foot injury that took him out of the 1987-88 season.
From Anfield he drifted into lower league football, playing for Barnsley, and Norwich City before taking his first steps on the other side of the fence, joining Swansea City as player/manager in 1996. Though they went the first five games without defeat, the club were relegated to Division Three in 1997. He continued the following season, putting all his energies in attempting to get Swansea back into Division Two. He went close, finishing 5th, but they missed out on promotion to Northampton Town snd he was forced out just 5 months later amidst a change in the boardroom, with his team languishing in 20th place, only having 10 games of the season gone.
He then took a 19 month sabbatical, working in the media before joining Kidderminster Harriers in May 1999 where he took the club into The Football League for the first time in their history; winning The Football Conference Championship in fine style. The Harriers achieved mid-table respectability in the football league but, after two league campaigns with the Midlands club, Molby left amid rumours that he was to become the new manager of Hull City.
Indeed Molby was offered the post of manager at Hull City and accepted the invitation to succeed Brian Little on April 3rd, 2002. His spell at The Tigers' helm was a brief one however, lasting just six months. After a disappointing period in charge, during which he never really won over the fans he was sacked, ironically following a 1-0 loss at his former club amidst a chorus of boos from all corners of the Aggborough ground.
Again he returned to the safety of television commentary – in part to keep himself in the know, but more probably, due to that irrational love of the game that so many managers seem to have. It was a year before he returned to Kidderminster as Director of Football on October 20th, 2003, to replace the man who had replaced him, Ian Britton. He was placed in charge of first team affairs until the end of the season, with the Harriers lying third from bottom of Division Three after 14 games. He pulled it round finishing 16th seven places above the drop zone.
In the 2004/05 season, just over a year since his second coming, Molby (officially the Director of Football) resigned leaving the Club Chairman:
"He will always be remembered at the club as “…the guy responsible for making Kidderminster Harriers achieve its dream of playing in the Football League four years ago…” – but those who followed the game in the eighties know how the ‘Scouse Dane' can light up footballing dreams."