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 By Mike Whalley

Wayne Harrison dies aged 46

A footballer who became the world’s most expensive teenager when he joined Liverpool in 1985 has died at the age of 46, the Merseyside club have announced.

Wayne Harrison was just 17 when he moved to Anfield from Oldham Athletic for 250,000 pounds.

But he never made a first-team appearance for Liverpool after suffering a series of injuries and misfortunes, and was forced to retire in 1991.

Harrison died in hospital on Christmas Day morning after a short illness, having suffered pancreatic problems.

A promising striker, he completed a move to Liverpool after just five appearances for Oldham, then in the Second Division -- now the Championship.

Joe Fagan, then Liverpool’s manager, saw off competition from Everton, Manchester United and Nottingham Forest to sign the teenager.

“You hear reports about a special player perhaps once in 20 years,” Fagan said at the time. “That’s why we bought him.”

Harrison was initially loaned back to Oldham, before he returned to Liverpool to continue his development in the club’s reserves.

He was on the verge of a first-team debut when he fell through a greenhouse and, with the local ambulance service on strike at the time, almost died through loss of blood before back-up Army medics could get him to hospital.

Harrison then suffered a number of serious injuries -- including one caused by a fall through his loft -- needing no fewer than 23 football-related operations.

He looked to have put those problems behind him as he scored 17 goals in 28 games for the reserves as they won the Central League title in 1989-90.

But his then tore his cruciate knee ligament during a reserve game against Bradford in May 1990, and was forced to retire the following year.

Oldham organised a testimonial for him against Liverpool in 1992, but he was unable to play because of his injury.

Harrison subsequently took a job as a driver for Robinson’s Brewery in his home town of Stockport, near Manchester, and played for local Sunday league amateur side Offerton Green.

In a statement on their website, Liverpool paid tribute to Harrison on Friday morning.

“Liverpool Football Club was saddened to hear of the passing of former Reds player Wayne Harrison at the age of 46,” it read.

“The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club go out to his family at this sad time.”


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