Samuel (Sam) Hardy was a former England-international (football) goalkeeper.
In 1902, Chesterfield manager Jack Hoskin beat Derby County to sign Hardy, doing so under a lamp post in Newbold. Hardy, something of a shrewd character, wouldn't sign the forms until Hoskin promised to pay him 18 shillings (90p) when the original offer was a mere 5 shillings (25p). Hardy soon gained himself a reputation for being unfazeable and it wasn't long before he started attracting the attention of the top clubs in the country.
Liverpool manager Tom Watson had witnessed him play against his side in a 2nd Division fixture at Anfield and although Liverpool won the match 6-1 Watson remembered that if it hadn't been for the performance of Hardy that day, Liverpool could well have gone on to record their biggest ever win. After just 77 appearances, in which he kept 30 clean-sheets, Watson approached both Chesterfield and Hardy and signed him for £500 in the May of 1905. After Ned Doig had begun the season as number 1 Sam came in to make his debut for the 9th game of the campaign on the 21 October 1912 at Anfield in a league match against Nottingham Forest, Liverpool won the game 4-1 and Hardy established himself as the Reds number 1.
By the end of his first season he had bagged a Football League First Division championship medal as Liverpool won their second title in 5 years. Hardy made 30 league (and 5 cup) appearances during the 1905-06 season as the Reds beat Preston North End by 4 points in the 2 points for a win system.
In 1907 Sam caught the eye of the Football Association committee who gave him his debut on the 14 October at Goodison Park, Ireland were the opponents and Hardy gained his first clean-sheet as England won 1-0.
Sam became one of the best goalkeepers of his generation over the next few seasons and by the time he was allowed to leave Anfield in 1912 he had earned himself the nickname 'Safe and Steady Sam.' He had made 239 appearances between the sticks for the Reds when he left for Villa for £1500 where he won 2 FA Cups in 1913 and 1920.
Like so many other professionals his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War, Sam kept his eye in during the conflict playing for his own club, Villa, 4 times, Plymouth Argyle, Nottingham Forest and the Royal Naval barracks Plymouth.
Hardy became a member of the P.F.A in 1921 and also left Villa after making 183 appearances. He joined Nottingham Forest for £1000 and helped them to the 2nd Division title by the end of his first season at the club in 1922, he played 102 times for Forest before injury ended his distinguished career when just shy of his 40th birthday.
By the end of his international days Sam had played for an incredible 14 years as England's premier goalkeeper earning himself a more than respectable 21 caps, if he were to be playing in today's modern game, which includes World Cup's, European Championship's and a whole host of friendlies, Sam would have gone on to earn well over 100 caps.
Upon retirement Sam became a publican, keeping pubs and billiard halls in the Chesterfield area, and remained so right up until his death aged 83 on the 24 October 1966. Sam's nephew Jack Hardy played for Chesterfield and Lincoln .
Many goalkeeping experts regard Sam Hardy as the greatest keeper of all , a statement that goes along way to be backed up by Hardy appearing on the BBC's List, he also got voted in at No.94 in the official Liverpool Football Club web site poll Kop.