|Talk 60's 70's Football at Yahoo! Clubs sixtiesandseventiessoccer|
Kevin Keegan at Scunthorpe United
My older brother's era (not that he ever showed an inkling of interest) had George Best as their hero, a few years down the line, and we had to settle for Kevin Keegan. One high on raw talent and low on effort the other high on effort and low on raw talent. Armthorpe's famous son, fought his way to the top with peerless dedication and motivation.
Kevin (2nd from right) with his Scunthorpe United team mates
Having learned his trade at Scunthorpe United, Kevin became the hero of Anfield, where he most famously partnered John Toshack up front, as the Shankly team evolved into the top team in Europe from the mid-Seventies on. In the days when moves abroad were rare, Kevin went to S.V. Hamburg and took West Germany by storm. He was England captain and twice European Footballer of the year (in 1978 and 1979).
Sadly for Kevin - and the rest of us - he was the closest thing England had to a World class player in his day, hence England were absent from both the '74 and '78 World Cup Finals and by Spain 1982 Kevin was increasingly getting injured. His last international was against the World Cup hosts, Spain, in which returning from injury, he came on as substitute to try and break the 0-0 deadlock. Even this skilled motivator could not succeed and England went out.
The Mighty Mouse
By this time Kevin was back in England with Southampton where he was the First Division leading goalscorer for the only time in his career (in 1981-82 with 26 goals). But his final hurrah was with Newcastle United, where he was regarded as hero and saviour of the footballing Geordie people. 48 League goals in 78 games - more than half of which were scored following realistic diving in the penalty area learnt in Germany (well nearly!) - and promotion to the top division were Kevin's return gift for all the adoration. He shocked some by retiring when there was clearly years left in him as a player. He scored in his farewell match, and left football altogether for some years.
It was little surprise to see Kevin's return to top football management. The king of motivators returned at Newcastle United, which had barely survived relegation to the (old) third Division the season before. It was a triumphantal return for Kevin, as he immediately helped the club win the Division One Championship (1992-93) ensuring that the Newcastle United were around for the Premiership from its second season of formation. His god-like staus as a player for Newcastle thus continued in his new role as manager, and in subsequent seasons Newcastle finished 3rd, 6th, and runners-up to Manchester United.
But by the next season, the pressure was beginning to tell, a 9 point Championship lead in February 1996 slowly eroded away, and by March Man U were on top again. The Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson's gamesmanship got the better of wor Kev. On 29 April, Newcastle beat Leeds United 1-0 to record the side's third win on the trot, and believing Sir Alex had tried to stir up the Leeds players to win 12 days earlier, Kevin flipped on a Sky TV interview.
All cruel fans just love to see it repeated again and again. Not least because Newcastle ultimately bottled it, in spite of - or maybe because of - Kevin's high emotions, and were runners-up to Manchester United for the second season on the trot. Halfway through the next campaign, Kevin left the club - curiously to be replaced by Kenny Dalglish as he had been as a player at Liverpool.
Kevin then joined up with Al Fayed's millions at Fulham. The club had been struggling to survive at all, but with new money came new ambitions and their steady climb to the Premiership was kicked started by Kevin who won the Division Two Championship in his first season - 1998-99, where he had the job title of Chief Operating Officer !
His apprenticeship served, Kevin next rose to the highest managerial post of the English game, that of the England coach. Taking over from Glenn Hoddle who left prematurely and under a cloud, Kevin came once again with more bold personality than talent. Nevertheless, Kevin did succeed in his first task in the post - qualification to Euro 2000, even if it did take a blind-one-legged-doggy's chance to get there.
Ultimately England's performance in those Finals was unimpressive, and the team failed to pass the opening group stage. Then, following the 1-0 defeat to Germany in the first qualifying match of the 2002 World Cup competition, in the much hyped last game at the old Wembly stadium, Kevin shocked the English football world by resigning. He claimed, 'I didn't want to outstay my welcome'. Generally Kevin was accused of being tactically naive. No doubt the interview exclusives, magazine articles and pending book will bore us tirelessly in this decision's aftermath, but so far Kevin has remained largely quiet on the issue.
After a season on the sidelines, Kevin returned as manager of Manchester City. At this point City had a torrid recent history with an ever growing list of former managers. Joe Royle had succeeded in getting the club from the 2nd Division to the Premiership, but after just one season the side were relgated . Once more out of the (sky) blue Kevin arrived, but for the first time on the back of a tarnished record.
In true heroic style, Kevin helped City back into the Premiership as Champions in his very first season at the club (2001-2002). In their first season in the Premiership, City finished a credible 9th, but in 2003-4 they slipped to 16th. Hence, the pressure on Kevin grew as he had made a number of big money signings, but not produced any silverware. An FA Cup defeat to League One local rivals, Oldham Athletic, in January 2005 did not help the situation, and in March it was all over. Kevin left football management once again, and currently remains in the wings having possibly ended his connections with football management for good.
Though still mentioned in a number of speculations about returning to management, one of the most intriguing being Doncaster Rovers, which being in South Yorkshire - the county of his birth, seemed almost possible, so far Kevin has resisted. Presently has involvement with the Soccer Circus at Xscape at Braehead, Glasgow.
There I wrote a whole history without once mentioning his terrible 'Head Over Heels' single, that dreadful perm, the disgracful incident where Billy Bremner and he threw their shirts off in a Charity Sheild match, or the fact he cheated outragously every time I saw him play against Leeds United ... er, allegedly.
This is the best picture I have (so far) of Kevin in his Scunthorpe United playing days.
Joseph Kevin Keegan
Born : Armthorpe, 14 February, 1951.
League appearances :
England appearances :
For further links on this site see ...
See more pictures of Kevin Keegan
For other sites see ...
|Bob Dunning 11 March 2007||
See the latest Soccer news at www.bobdunning.net