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Shankly's quote voted best of all time

Published Jul 7, 2006

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By Paul Majendie

London - Bill Shankly felt football was more important than life and death, and fans around the world agreed with the former Liverpool manager on Friday.

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Scotsman Shankly, who died of a heart attack in 1981, beat former Manchester United and France forward Eric Cantona in a poll organised by the Plain English Campaign to pick soccer's most memorable quote.

Shankly struck a chord when he said: "Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I'm very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that."

Campaign spokesperson Dave Smith told Reuters: "We surveyed 10 000 supporters in 80 countries. They really liked the power of the Shankly quote.

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"Votes for him peaked after England went out to Portugal in the quarterfinals (of the World Cup). It described their passion for football. We got votes from all over, from Australia, America, all English-speaking countries."

Shankly's passionate commitment to the game gave him top spot above Cantona, who once bewildered fans by saying: "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea."

Third place went to former England midfielder Paul Gascoigne for saying: "I never predict anything and I never will."

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BBC commentator John Motson took two of the top-10 spots.

"I think this could be our best victory over Germany since the War" said Motson, who also once declared "the World Cup is a truly international event."

Former Manchester United great George Best, famous for his passion for the good life, was at number eight in the poll for saying: "I spent most of my money on birds, booze and fast cars. The rest I just squandered."

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Smith said: "We have been conducting the poll throughout the World Cup and thought the final was the perfect time to publish it."

Italy play France in the final in Berlin on Sunday.

The Plain English Campaign is an independent group which urges clearer information in public documents.

Each year it takes great delight in naming and shaming bureaucrats, politicians and companies who mangle the language into incomprehensibility.

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