Preston and BrightonMark Lawrenson was born in Preston and attended Teresa's Catholic Primary School in Penwortham and, later, Preston Catholic College, a school. His father, Tom, had been a winger for . He always wanted to be a footballer, although his mother, Theresa, wanted him to become a priest. He began his career, as a 17-year-old, with his hometown club, in 1974 who were then managed by winner . Lawrenson was voted Preston's Player of the Year for the 1976–77 season. After 73 league appearances for the Deepdale club he moved to Alan Mullery's Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer before the start of the 1977–78 season for £100,000. Ironically, they outbid Liverpool who also showed interest in the 19-year-old Lawrenson. Lawrenson made his Brighton debut on 20 August 1977 in a 1–1 draw against Southampton F.C., Southampton at The Dell (Southampton F.C.), The Dell. He settled in at the Goldstone Ground and made 40 league appearances by the end of his first season of the club. He went on to make 152 league appearances by the end of the 1980–81 season. However the club entered a financial crisis in 1981 and Lawrenson was forced to leave the club to make funds available. A number of clubs were interested in signing Lawrenson after his resilient performances for both Preston and Brighton, but it was Liverpool manager Bob Paisley who secured his signature.
LiverpoolLiverpool offered a club transfer record of £900,000, and Lawrenson joined in the summer of 1981. He was to form a formidable central defensive partnership with Alan Hansen after Phil Thompson suffered an injury. He was also used occasionally at left-back. He made his first start for the team at left-back in a 1–0 league defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C., Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux Stadium, Molineux on 29 August 1981. He scored his first goal a month later during the 7–0 UEFA Champions League, European Cup 1st round 2nd leg trouncing of Finnish team Oulun Palloseura at Anfield on 30 September. Lawrenson came on for Ray Kennedy in the 64th minute scoring in the 72nd. Also coming off the bench to score his first goal for the club was Ian Rush. In Lawrenson's first full season, 1981–82, Liverpool won the Football League First Division, League championship and the Football League Cup, League Cup, defeating Tottenham Hotspur in the final. The team retained both titles for the next two seasons (in the League Cup finals defeating Manchester United in 1983 Football League Cup Final, 1983 and Everton F.C., Everton in 1984 Football League Cup Final, 1984), becoming the third club in history to win three league titles in a row. They also added the club's fourth European Cup in 1984 European Cup Final, 1984, the last time Liverpool would win Europe's most prestigious club prize until 2005. Lawrenson dislocated his shoulder three weeks before the 1985 European Cup Final, 1985 European Cup final, the Heysel Stadium Disaster. He started the game, which Liverpool lost 1–0 to Juventus, but was injured after a few minutes and had to be substituted. Lawrenson earned a reputation as an accomplished player and in the 1985–1986 season he was an integral part of the Liverpool side who completed the third league championship and FA Cup double of the 20th century. They overtook Merseyside derby, derby rivals Everton F.C., Everton to win the league by two points and later came from behind to defeat Everton 3–1 in the 1986 FA Cup Final, 1986 FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium (1923), Wembley. After 1986, Lawrenson's first team place came under threat from the younger Gary Gillespie. Lawrenson's partnership with team captain Hansen continued for one more season before he, already out through a minor injury, suffered Achilles tendon damage in 1988 which prematurely ended his career. He earned a fifth and final title medal when that season ended. His Liverpool career ended after 332 appearances and 18 goals in all competitions – one of which was the fifth goal in a 5–0 defeat of Merseyside rivals Everton on 6 November 1982, a game in which Ian Rush scored four of the five goals. In 1989, Lawrenson spent one season with the Florida side Tampa Bay Rowdies (1975–1993)#ASL/APSL: 1988–1993, Tampa Bay Rowdies in the American Soccer League (1988-1989), American Soccer League.
ManagementAfter his time at Liverpool, he was appointed Oxford United F.C., Oxford United manager in 1988. His time at the club was frustrating and he resigned after star striker Dean Saunders was sold by the board of directors without Lawrenson's approval. Over that winter, he made a brief playing comeback in the Football Conference, GM Vauxhall Conference, making two appearances for Barnet F.C., Barnet. Lawrenson also managed Peterborough United F.C., Peterborough United from 6 September 1989 until 9 November 1990.
Return to PlayingLawrenson returned to playing with non-league clubs Corby Town F.C., Corby Town and Chesham United F.C., Chesham United. His final season as a player was as part of the Chesham team that won the 1992-93 Isthmian League. The club was not promoted to the then National League (English football), Football Conference as this would have required ground improvements that could not be afforded, so he decided the time was right to retire from playing completely.
International careerAfter Preston coach (and former Irish international goalkeeper) Alan Kelly Sr., Alan Kelly became aware of the young player's Irish connections (and informed Irish international manager Johnny Giles), Lawrenson's solid performances earned him a call-up to the Republic of Ireland national football team, Republic of Ireland national team. He won the first of 39 international caps at the age of 19, in a friendly with Poland national football team, Poland on 24 April 1977 at Dalymount Park; the game ended 0–0. Ireland employed Lawrenson's versatility and burgeoning talent by playing him at fullback, in midfield, and occasionally in his favoured position at centre half. Lawrenson played his first competitive match on 12 October 1977 against Bulgaria national football team, Bulgaria in a 1978 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA), 1978 World Cup qualifier. This match also ended 0-0, at Lansdowne Road (now Aviva Stadium). Lawrenson scored his first of his five goals for Ireland against Cyprus national football team, Cyprus in Nicosia on 26 March 1980 in a 1982 FIFA World Cup qualification (UEFA), 1982 World Cup Qualifier. He scored his second goal for Ireland in the next competitive match as Ireland beat Netherlands national football team, Netherlands 2–1 at Lansdowne Road in the same qualification campaign. This was also notable as it was Eoin Hand, Eoin Hand's first match as manager of Ireland. In between these two matches Mark Lawrenson renewed his Preston acquaintance with Alan Kelly Snr as Kelly managed Ireland in a caretaker capacity for a friendly against Switzerland national football team, Switzerland. Lawrenson scored two goals in Ireland's record victory - an 8-0 thrashing of Malta national football team, Malta in a UEFA Euro 1984 qualifying, 1984 European Championship qualifier but the Irish goal that he is best remembered for is one against Scotland national football team, Scotland. It was Jack Charlton, Jack Charlton's first qualification campaign as Irish manager and Ireland were playing Scotland in Hampden Park in a UEFA Euro 1988 qualifying, 1988 Euro qualifier. A sixth-minute goal earned Ireland a precious away victory that went a very long way to helping Ireland to qualify for its first ever major football championship finals. Unfortunately for Lawrenson injury prevented him from making the Irish Euro 1988 squad for the finals. Mark Lawrenson played his last match for the Republic of Ireland against Israel national football team, Israel on 10 November 1987. It was a friendly match at Dalymount Park and was also notable because David Kelly (association footballer), David Kelly scored a hat trick on his international debut.
Media careerAfter retiring from international football Lawrenson wrote for the Irish Times, initially providing analysis for the 1990 World Cup. Lawrenson began his television career providing match analysis on ITV Wales & West, HTV West's local football coverage, before working as a pundit for the BBC but then left briefly to become a coach specialising in defensive tactics for Kevin Keegan at Newcastle United F.C., Newcastle United.Mark Lawrenson profile
Personal lifeIn 2003, Lawrenson was awarded an Honorary fellowship, Honorary Fellowship from Myerscough College near Preston for his achievements in football. In 2018, he was given the all-clear after having a cancerous growth removed from his face. He was made aware of the seriousness of the growth when a concerned viewer contacted the editor of ''Football Focus''. Lawrenson later met the viewer, Dr Alan Brennan, on television.
Honours;Liverpool *Football League First Division (5): 1981–82 in English football, 1981–82, 1982–83 in English football, 1982–83, 1983–84 in English football, 1983–84, 1985–86 in English football, 1985–86, 1987–88 in English football, 1987–88 *FA Cup: 1986 FA Cup Final, 1985–86 *Football League Cup, League Cup: 1982 Football League Cup Final, 1981–82, 1983 Football League Cup Final, 1982–83, 1984 Football League Cup Final, 1983–84 *FA Charity Shield: 1982 FA Charity Shield, 1982, 1986 FA Charity Shield, 1986 *Football League Super Cup: 1986 *UEFA Champions League, European Cup: 1984 European Cup Final, 1983–84
See also* List of Republic of Ireland international footballers born outside the Republic of Ireland