On this day in 1951, former Liverpool player Kevin Keegan was born.
Keegan joined Scunthorpe as an apprentice in 1968 and made his name as a midfielder in the fourth division playing a total of 120 games. Liverpool were busy preparing for their FA cup final with against Arsenal at Wembley when Shankly signed Keegan from Scunthorpe for £33,000. He was seen as a replacement for Veteran Ian Callaghan who was having problems with his ligaments. Just four days before the 1971/72 season was about to begin, Keegan was picked for the first team in a practice match at Melwood, Keegan created havoc that day and Shankly didn’t hesitate to give him his debut against Nottingham Forest at Anfield the following Saturday. Keegan scored his first goal for the Reds just 12 minutes into the game and netted 3 more times in the opening five games of the league season.
Unfortunately, a defeat at Derby and a controversial draw at Arsenal lost Keegan the chance to win the title in his first season at the club but he didn’t have to wait long until he was walking away with a UEFA Cup Winner’s medal when his early strikes in the home tie against Borussia Monchengladbach were the platform for the club’s aggregate victory. He also received a number of international caps for Wales during that season.
In 1973/74 Keegan played in every single one of the 61 competitive matches Liverpool had in the league and three cup competitions and scored 19 goals. He was the man for the big occasion and proved it when he netted a great volley past peter Shilton in the semi-final replay victory over Leicester City, he then netted two goals in the one-sided Wembley match over Newcastle United. The 1974/75 season didn’t start off well for Keegan, he was sent off in a pre-season game against Kaiserslautern, he then received his marching orders again four days later after clashing with Billy Bremmer in the charity shield at Wembley. Although he played in the opening game of the season against Luton, he then didn’t feature again in the first division until October. He quickly found his old form and played in the remaining 33 fixtures as the Reds finished runners up to Derby county.
In 1976 Liverpool repeated their League and UEFA Cup ‘double’ of 1973 and again Keegan was prominent, only missing one first division game and scoring in both legs of the European final against Bruges. He was voted Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year for the 1975/76 season. However, with a season’s notice Keegan announced that he would be moving on from Liverpool and would be signing for Hamburg.
In his farewell season he was the club’s leading scorer in the league and contributed valuable goals as the Reds reached the finals of both the FA and European cups. With the Championship clinched in the penultimate league match, a historic treble beckoned but Manchester United ruined that dream. In Rome, Keegan played his heart out, starting a typical 40 yard run he was then brought down by Vogts in the penalty area. Phil Neal converted the spot-kick to seal probably the most famous triumph in the club’s history.
Keegan became the most expensive player in the Bundesliga when he was bought for a British record fee of £500,000. He won the championship in his second season at Hamburg and won European Footballer of the Year awards in two consecutive seasons having just missed out at Liverpool. Keegan stayed in Germany for three years and in his final season at Hamburg he featured in the European cup final against Nottingham Forest, Unfortunately Hamburg lost 1-0.
Liverpool had first option to buy him back but he ended up moving to Southampton for £420,000. He was the division’s top scorer in his second season with 26 goals and was voted Player of the Year by his fellow professionals. After two years at Southampton, he moved to Newcastle for £100,000 and stayed there until he retired in 1984.
Keegan became manager of Newcastle and during his five year spell he won the first division title and finished runners up in the Premiership. He had a one-year spell at Fulham before he took over as England manager in February 1999, he was in charge for a year and a half before being sacked due to England failing miserably in Euro 2000. In May 2001 Keegan took charge of Manchester City and won the first division title, however he wanted to retire from management and left City in the 2004/05 season. He made an unexpected return to Newcastle in 2008 but left after just 8 months stating that owner Mike Ashley was not providing the financial support that he had promised.
Keegan will go down as one of Liverpool’s best players and will be remembered for all of the great goals he scored throughout his career at Anfield. He was the first ‘pin-up’ boy Liverpool really had and made the number seven shirt famous.
He played a total of 230 games for LFC, scoring 100 goals.
Article by Lauren black
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