Kevin Keegan

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Kevin Keegan
Keegan playing for England circa 1980.
Personal information
Full name Joseph Kevin Keegan
Date of birth (1951-02-14) 14 February 1951 (age 72)
Place of birth Armthorpe, Doncaster, England
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)[1]
Position(s) Forward
Youth career
Enfield House YC
1967–1968 Scunthorpe United
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1968–1971 Scunthorpe United 124 (18)
1971–1977 Liverpool 230 (68)
1977–1980 Hamburger SV 90 (32)
1980–1982 Southampton 68 (37)
1982–1984 Newcastle United 78 (48)
1985 Blacktown City 2 (1)
Total 592 (204)
International career
1972–1982 England 63 (21)
Managerial career
1992–1997 Newcastle United
1997–1999 Fulham
1999–2000 England
2001–2005 Manchester City
2008 Newcastle United
*Club domestic league appearances and goals

Joseph Kevin Keegan OBE (born 14 February 1951)[2] is an English former footballer and manager. A forward, he played for several professional clubs from 1968 to 1984. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time,[3] Keegan was recognised for his dribbling ability as well as his finishing and presence in the air.[4] Having begun his career at Scunthorpe United, he moved to Liverpool in 1971 and then to Hamburger SV in 1977, enjoying great success at both clubs. During this period, he was a regular member of the England national team. After leaving Hamburg, where he was affectionately known as 'Mighty Mouse', Keegan played for Southampton and Newcastle United before retiring. Keegan returned to football in 1992 as manager at Newcastle. He later managed Fulham and Manchester City. All three clubs he managed won promotion as champions in his first full season there. He managed the England national team from 1999 to 2000.

Keegan began his playing career at Scunthorpe in 1968, before Bill Shankly signed him for Liverpool. There he won three First Division titles, the UEFA Cup twice, the FA Cup and, in his final season, the European Cup. Keegan gained his first England cap in 1972. He moved to Hamburg in the summer of 1977 and was named European Footballer of the Year in both 1978 and 1979.[5] Hamburg won the Bundesliga title in 1978–79 and reached the 1980 European Cup Final. Keegan left Hamburg and played at Southampton for two seasons before transferring to Newcastle United in the Second Division in 1982. He helped Newcastle secure promotion in his second season, and retired from playing in 1984. He scored 204 goals in 592 appearances in his club career, adding 21 goals in 63 caps for the English national team.

Keegan moved into management at Newcastle in 1992, and the team won promotion to the Premier League as First Division champions in his first full season, the following year. Newcastle finished second in the Premier League in 1995–96, after leading for most of the season. After managing Fulham for two seasons, he took charge of the England team in February 1999, but resigned in October 2000 following a 1–0 loss against Germany in qualification for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. In 2001, he became manager of Manchester City for four years until he resigned in 2005. Keegan had been out of football for almost three years when he returned to Newcastle United for a second spell as manager in January 2008, but this lasted only eight months, as he resigned on 4 September 2008 following speculation about a dispute with the club's directors.[6]

Early years[edit]

Keegan's grandfather Frank Keegan

Keegan's paternal ancestors arrived in Newcastle from Ireland.[7] In 1909, his grandfather Frank, an inspector, heroically saved lives in the West Stanley Pit disaster.[8] His father Joe and uncle Frank were Newcastle United fans,[9] describing their favourite players as Hughie Gallacher and Jackie Milburn.[10] His father moved to Armthorpe in Doncaster to work in a colliery,[11] where he married Doris[12] and they had three children: Mary, who was two years Keegan's senior,[13] Kevin, and Michael.[14] His father never saw Keegan play for Newcastle.[15]

Keegan was born in February 1951 at his aunt Nellie's house in Elm Place in Armthorpe, as she had electricity that made it safer for childbirth.[16] Keegan attended St. Peter's High School in nearby Cantley.[1]

Keegan was given his first football by his uncle Frank and his first pair of football boots by his father after he won betting on horses.[17] They were a second-hand pair of Winit boots bought from a sports shop run by former Doncaster Rovers centre forward Ray Harrison. Keegan played football at Hyde Park using his baby brother Michael's pushchair as a goal post.[18] As a boy he supported Doncaster Rovers. His favourite player was Alick Jeffrey, a player once described by Matt Busby's assistant, Jimmy Murphy, as the English Pelé, and once described by Jackie Milburn as "the best young player he had ever seen".[19] As a schoolboy, Keegan had a trial for Coventry City under manager Jimmy Hill. Despite being one of two players kept on for an extra six-week period, the club did not offer Keegan a contract. They did offer apprenticeship terms to the right-back Brian Joy, who went on to have a 15-year career in football.[20] Keegan had another trial with Doncaster Rovers arranged by his father, but when Keegan arrived he found out he had the wrong information—the trial was earlier in the day and at a different place.[21]

Keegan participated in various sports, such as cross country running, rugby, and football, and served his school's cricket team as captain.[22] He also boxed at his local club, run by the former British Heavyweight champion Bruce Woodcock.[23] At age 15, Keegan and two friends completed a 50-mile run from Nottingham to Doncaster. In his autobiography, Keegan claimed this run prepared him physically and psychologically for any running he had to do in future pre-season training or football matches.[24] Keegan left school with O Levels in History and Art.[25]

At the age of 15 Keegan started working at Pegler Brass Works as an office clerk, though he has said he was more of a tea boy and messenger than a clerk.[26] Whilst working at Pegler, Keegan played Saturday afternoon football for his local youth club, Enfield House, and Sunday morning football for the Lonsdale Hotel.[27] It was during this time that a colleague named Harry Holland invited him to play for the Peglers Works reserves.[28] His chance at professional football came when he was playing Sunday morning league football for the Lonsdale Hotel in a match against Woodfield Social in 1966. Keegan was marked by an older player named Bob Nellis, who was so impressed by the ability of Keegan that he offered him a trial at Fourth Division side Scunthorpe United—one of just two professional sides in the division. This trial would lead to the Scunthorpe manager Ron Ashman giving Keegan his first contract in professional football.[29][2][30]

Club career[edit]

1966–1971: Scunthorpe United[edit]

Scunthorpe United could not afford a set of football nets and trained on a rugby pitch at Quibell Park.[31] They also had five-a-side training sessions on the Old Showground concrete car park.[32] Keegan took training very seriously, twice a week training with teammate Derek Hemstead by doing weighted farmers walks up and down the cantilever stand at the Old Showground.[33] In running drills at Scunthorpe, Keegan liked trying to finish first and was told by coach Jack Brownsword that one thing he had going for him was that he was a "one-hundred percenter" and he should never lose that.[34] This will to be first in his running drills would later irritate senior pros such as Liverpool's Tommy Smith,[35] and Shankly would later advise Keegan that he did not have to win all his runs.[36]

Scunthorpe did not have the funds for a full-time driver to drive them to away games, so Keegan and the other younger players would take turns in driving the minibus to and from away games.[37] Keegan, Nigel Jackson, Jimmy Coyne, Alan Olbison and Steve Hibbotson once borrowed Jack Brownsword's stopwatch and had timed rallies around the Old Showground with the club's vintage tractor.[38] On Keegan's turn the tractor crashed and the tractor's axle went through the engine.[38] The crash was very expensive to fix and the five players were harshly reprimanded by manager Ron Ashman. This experience gave Keegan awareness of his responsibility as a representative of Scunthorpe United. In 1968, Keegan made his debut against Peterborough United at the age of 17, and went on to make 29 league starts in his first season.[39] He became a regular in the first team by the 1969–70 season, playing all 46 league games for the club.[40] That season saw the team reach the fifth round of the FA Cup, beating First Division side Sheffield Wednesday along the way. His low wages at Scunthorpe meant Keegan had to find summer jobs, such as plate-laying at the Appleby Frodingham Steelworks.[41]

External video
video icon Keegan interviewed in 1969-70

Keegan played regularly in a creative right midfield role for the Scunthorpe United first team, scoring 18 goals in 124 games for the club. After his first season he started attracting interest from higher division clubs. In a rare televised interview at Scunthorpe in 1969–70, Keegan tried to play down the interest, stating: "I'm getting first-team football here. Should think if I went First Division, I'd struggle a bit."[42] Not long after this interview, Keegan began to feel impatient about playing in higher divisions and even considered quitting the game and getting a full-time job.[43] Higher division clubs such as Preston North End, Birmingham City, Notts County, Millwall and Arsenal all showed interest in Keegan but nothing came of it.[44]

1971–1977: Liverpool[edit]

In 1971, Keegan attracted the attention of Liverpool's head scout Geoff Twentyman,[45][46] whose opinion was held in high regard by manager Bill Shankly. After Twentyman's recommendation, Liverpool made an offer for Keegan which Scunthorpe accepted. After Scunthorpe agreed to the fee offered, Keegan was driven the four hours to Liverpool by manager Ron Ashman, who was determined to get a cash influx for Scunthorpe United.[47] Prior to the journey, Keegan's father advised Keegan to not sell himself cheap.[48] Keegan negotiated a contract worth £50 a week after Shankly had originally offered him £45. Ashman, sensing the deal may fall through, was at one stage aghast at Keegan's negotiation tactics. On the drive back to Scunthorpe, Ashman was critical of Keegan's bluff that he was almost earning £45 a week at a fourth division football club.

After the negotiation Keegan, 20 years old, was transferred to Liverpool for a fee of £33,000.[30][49]

Liverpool bought Keegan as a midfielder, but Shankly soon decided to move Keegan up front alongside John Toshack. In a reserve match against Tranmere Rovers, Keegan played right midfield, and after playing with an attacking mindset he was strongly warned by Ronnie Moran that he was "playing too free and easy," and "nearly playing up front."[50] Keegan took Moran's criticism as a slight, and for a period perceived that Moran strongly had it in for him.[51] As a result of Keegan's lack of positional discipline, he was tested up front in a preseason reserve match against Southport F.C..[52] Keegan scored both goals in a 2–1 victory observed by Shankly. Liverpool then tried Keegan in attack at Melwood in a game between the first team and reserves.[53] Keegan played for the first team and scored 4 in a 7–0 victory.[54] His attacking ability prompted Shankly to keep Keegan up front, and he was immediately deployed as the new strike partner for Toshack.[55][56]

Though Keegan liked Toshack as a teammate, they did not socialise off the pitch, and Keegan said it was strange how quickly they could understand each other's play styles. Keegan claimed that the only other player who reached that level of football understanding with him was England international Trevor Brooking.[57]

On 14 August 1971, Keegan made his Liverpool debut against Nottingham Forest at Anfield, scoring after 12 minutes.[58] He made his England debut at under-23 level later in 1971. His debut for the top England squad came in a World Cup qualifier against Wales at Ninian Park. Keegan's first goal for England came in his third cap, a game against Wales in a British Home Championship match that England won 2–0 on 11 May 1974.[59]

Early on at Liverpool, Keegan dropped his first name Joseph, and began signing his autograph as 'Kevin Keegan', instead of the 'JK Keegan' that he scribbled at Scunthorpe.[60]

In 1972–73, Keegan won his first major titles. As the season was coming to a close, Liverpool was in a tight race with Leeds United and Arsenal for the top spot in the First Division. Don Revie's Leeds squad visited Anfield for a showdown on Easter Monday. Two plays on either side of halftime decided the match. First, Leeds' Peter Lorimer missed an open goal just before halftime. Two minutes after the break, Peter Cormack scored to put Liverpool ahead. Keegan added a late second goal to seal the win. Arsenal dropped a point at Southampton, and Liverpool clinched the title with a 0–0 draw against Leicester City in the final game. This was their first major trophy since 1966.[61]

In the UEFA Cup, Liverpool reached the final, where they would face German side Borussia Mönchengladbach. The first leg at Anfield was abandoned after 27 minutes due to a downpour and rescheduled for the next day. The 27 minutes they played gave Bill Shankly an insight into Mönchengladbach's defensive vulnerability in the air. To exploit this, he brought tall forward Toshack into the starting team, demoting the smaller Brian Hall, who appeared only as a late substitute.[62] Keegan scored two goals set up by Toshack headers in a 3–0 win. Liverpool lost the second leg 2–0 away, winning the title 3–2 on aggregate.[63]

Keegan was a frequent scorer the following season, but Liverpool lost the league title to a Leeds team that went unbeaten for a then-record 29 games at the start of the season. The team was more successful in the FA Cup. Their campaign in the competition started with a match against the club which had rejected Keegan, Doncaster Rovers, and it was Keegan who scored both Liverpool goals in a 2–2 draw. Liverpool won the replay and advanced. Keegan scored twice more on the way to the cup finals at Wembley Stadium, including a lob-volley over the head Peter Shilton in the semi-final against Leicester City at Villa Park.

In the 1974 final, Liverpool played Newcastle United. Keegan explained Liverpool players were motivated by trash-talk from Newcastle players Malcolm 'Supermac' Macdonald and John Tudor.[64] Tudor and Macdonald gave pre-game interviews confidently proclaiming superiority over Liverpool and criticizing older Liverpool pros like Tommy Smith. Keegan also believed Shankly may have got into the heads of the Newcastle players when, on the night before the game, Shankly and Newcastle manager Joe Harvey were being interviewed. Shankly was audible off-camera, stating, "Joe looks a bag of nerves..." Keegan explained it would not have surprised him if this was not an accident, and that Shankly did this to neutralise Newcastle's confidence. In the final, Keegan scored two as Liverpool beat Newcastle United 3–0.[65] It was the first brace in an FA Cup final since Mike Trebilcock scored twice for Everton in 1966. Keegan claimed that with 100,000 people in attendance, the non-stop chanting of both sets of fans, and the millions watching on TV, this game was as close to a non drug-induced psychedelic experience as he could ever get.[64]

Keegan (left) walking out for a game against FC Zürich in 1977.

Keegan's next visit to Wembley was three months later in the Charity Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser to a new season. The match was contentious and turned violent. Leeds midfielder Johnny Giles punched an unsuspecting Keegan, but was spared sending off after Keegan asked the referee to be lenient. Giles later lunged two-footed at Keegan. Upon Keegan's outraged reaction, Billy Bremner challenged Keegan, who then exploded and punched Bremner. Bremner punched back, and they were both sent off, the first time anyone had been sent off in a Charity Shield match.[66] Both players removed their shirts in protest, with Keegan vocally outraged by the decision. Inside the Liverpool dressing room, Bremner approached Keegan to apologise and was met by the fury of Keegan's father who had come down to check on his son. The fight was shown that night on BBC. Keegan and Bremner were fined £500 each, with Keegan being suspended for three games and Bremner eight.[30] Despite this, Keegan, Bremner and Giles remained good friends outside of football.

The next year saw Keegan score 12 goals for Liverpool, but 1974–75 was a trophyless season for Liverpool, and England failed to qualify for the European Championships. There were numerous honours for Keegan over the next two years, however, as Liverpool again won the League championship and UEFA Cup in 1975–76. Keegan scored in both legs of the UEFA Cup final against FC Bruges, which Liverpool won 4-3 on aggregate.[30]

In 1976–77, Keegan helped Liverpool win the League championship and European Cup. Midway through the season he announced his intention to leave Liverpool in the summer to play abroad. He scored 20 goals in his final season with the club. Keegan's last appearance in a Liverpool shirt on home soil was Liverpool's loss in the FA Cup final to bitter rivals Manchester United.[30] The European Cup final in Rome against Borussia Mönchengladbach was four days later. Keegan did not score, but he did make a late run which led to a foul inside the penalty area by Berti Vogts. This led to a penalty which was successfully converted by Phil Neal, sealing a 3–1 win. During the season, on 4 December 1976, Keegan's father died of cancer at the age of 71.[14]

After 323 appearances and 100 goals, Keegan left Liverpool. He had offers from clubs across Europe, and chose to join Hamburger SV in the West German Bundesliga for £500,000. Liverpool replaced him with Kenny Dalglish.[30] Of his time in Liverpool, Keegan later said, "The only thing I fear is missing an open goal in front of the Kop. I would die if that were to happen. When they start singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' my eyes start to water. There have been times when I've actually been crying while I've been playing."[67]

1977–1980: Hamburger SV[edit]

Keegan with a Hamburger SV supporter in London in 1996

Keegan's transfer to Hamburg was agreed between the FA Cup final and the European Cup final of 1977, although Keegan had negotiated a maximum transfer fee the season before.[68] The agreement set the British record transfer record at £500,000,[69] and nearly doubled the German transfer record.[70] Keegan arrived in Germany, joining a club that had not finished higher than sixth in two decades.[71] He told ITV that his annual salary the last season he played for Liverpool was £22,000, whereas at Hamburg it was £122,000.[72]

Following his move to Hamburg, Keegan became an early trendsetter with his new haircut, a perm. On first sight, his wife thought it was hilarious and his agent jokingly tried to disown him in public.[73] Soon though, players such as Bryan Robson, Charlie George, Phil Neal, Terry McDermott also had perms.[73] Later, when Keegan was at Newcastle United as a manager, he and Terry McDermott would joke about the perm in an advertisement.[74] Keegan became Hamburg's best-paid player and was billed by the club's business manager, Dr. Peter Krohn, as the superstar signing from England who would transform an average German team.[75] Keegan did not feel immediately accepted by his new teammates, and perceived slights from teammates that supported this idea, like making an open run in training but not receiving a pass.[76][77]

Rules stated that no club was allowed more than two foreign players on its squad. Unbeknownst to Keegan, his transfer had indirectly moved out the three-time European Cup winner Horst Blankenburg. Blankenburg was a very popular member of the squad, and this upset some players.[78] There was also some resentment amongst the other players who thought that the previous coach, whom the players liked, was replaced by Krohn to accommodate Keegan.[79] It was not until Keegan had moved out of temporary accommodation and moved to a bungalow in the little village of Itzstedt that Keegan began to feel he could make inroads and have a successful career and life in Germany.[80]

In one early interview Keegan mentioned how he was settling in. He explained how he missed British cereals that he could not find in the supermarkets in Germany. The Hamburg fans then flooded him with parcels of his favourite cereal with lists of the suppliers.[81] There were language difficulties early on. In one instance in the summer, Keegan went into a hardware shop intending to buy a fuse and he eventually left the shop after buying Christmas lights.[82]

He scored in pre-season friendlies against Barcelona and his former club Liverpool, but Hamburg would suffer defeat in the European Super Cup against Liverpool later. Keegan's time in Hamburg got off to a bad start as Hamburg lost 5-2 to MSV Duisburg in their first league match. Rudi Gutendorf, the manager some believed was appointed for Keegan, would only last until October.[83]

In the winter break of his first season, feeling isolated by the clique in the dressing room, a frustrated Keegan was sent off in a friendly against lower league club VfB Lübeck.[84][85] A player in the match was targeting Keegan, and after the third time being smashed, Keegan walked to the goading Lübeck player and punched him. Keegan, who knew he was going to be sent off, walked off the pitch prior to any decision by the referee. Keegan maintains this was his lowest point in Germany. After the incident, he decided to master the German language to fully integrate himself in the team. Up to this point, he didn't have the language to ask teammates why they were not passing to him, nor to show them that he too loved the club.[85]

Keegan was suspended for eight weeks and in that time he and the squad made efforts to integrate.[86] He knew the dressing room was turning in his favor when he got invited to the squad nights out. Eventually, one player told him he could get cheap meat for Keegan's dogs, and full back Peter Hidien even got a perm. An unhappy first few months at the club gave way to a more successful season. Although the club finished tenth in the league in 1977–78, Keegan's 12 goals helped him pick up a personal honour, the France Football European Footballer of the Year award for 1978.[84][87]

Hamburg appointed Croatian Branko Zebec as a new coach.[88] Zebec was a man who was known to work players to the max. Zebec's squad did a lot of running and Keegan claimed he had never been worked as hard in his life.[89] The 1978–79 season saw a vast improvement on the club's 1978 finish. A rigorous training regime, Keegan's increasing grasp of the German language, and the newly imposed discipline contributed to Hamburg's first league championship in nineteen years.[84] The club's success also translated into individual recognition for Keegan, who picked up the European Footballer of the Year award for a second consecutive season.[87] Before Keegan, only Alfredo di Stefano, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff had won the award two or more times.[90] As of 2023, six more players have won the award multiple times, bringing the total to ten.

After the 1978–79 season, Juventus, Real Madrid and the Washington Diplomats tried to sign Keegan by offering good terms, but he decided to see out his contract at Hamburg.[91] In 1979 Hamburg fans gave Keegen the nickname 'Mighty Mouse' from the popular cartoon superhero from the 1970s and 1980s.[92]

In February in the 1979–80 season, Keegan announced he was leaving after his contract was up. One of the reasons for leaving was Zebec's training regime. Keegan had a lot of respect for Zebec, but thought that Zebec's extreme fitness regime was flawed for the modern-day footballer.[93] Keegan told Zebec that his training regime was going to burn him out as a footballer, and that he believed he would be finished from playing by 30 if he continued. Zebec, in turn responded to Keegan's critique and explained to Keegan it was the same for all the players. Keegan then implied to Zebec that players have different roles and not all players run the same distances on match days; he pointed out to Zebec that because of his role and his effort, on match days not many players in the squad ran as much as himself. After he left the club, drawings were found in Keegan's training ground locker depicting Zebec treating the squad as prisoners, with a figure of Keegan counting down the days to his release. The drawings and Keegan's personal locker are now held in the Hamburg museum under the title 'HSV Legenden'[94]

Hamburg's European campaign of 1979–80 saw Keegan score two goals to help Hamburg past Dinamo Tbilisi, the Soviet champions who had beaten Liverpool to advance. On the run Hamburg beat Dinamo Tbilisi, Valur, Hajduk Split and Real Madrid.[95] In the first leg against Real Madrid they were comfortably beaten 2-0 and most football pundits predicted Hamburg were probably going out. Hamburg beat the odds by winning the return leg 5–1. Keegan regarded this as one of the most outstanding team performances he had the fortune to be a part of. In the final they played Nottingham Forest. Forest played with 11 men behind the ball, and won the game 1–0 with a goal from John Robertson. This cup final defeat was coupled domestically with losing the Bundesliga title to Bayern Munich. Having negotiated a maximum transfer fee of £500,000 in his contract the year before and agreeing to a move in February, Keegan left Hamburg for Southampton in the summer of 1980.[96]

1980–1982: Southampton[edit]

On 11 February 1980, Southampton boss Lawrie McMenemy called a press conference at the Potters Heron Hotel in Ampfield to announce that Keegan would join Southampton in the summer.[97] The news caused surprise throughout the world of football and around the city of Southampton, as Southampton was a relatively small club. The club was beginning to become established in the top division, but this signing showed how persuasive their manager could be. Fans' excitement only grew when Keegan captained England in the 1980 European Championships in Italy.

Keegan had a clause in his contract with Hamburg that gave Liverpool the option to buy him back.[98] Liverpool, however, opted not to exercise this clause. As late as November 2011, Keegan has stated, "I was with Lawrie [McMenemy] at a charity event the other day, and he said he phoned up Peter Robinson because he wanted me, but Liverpool had a clause. Peter said, 'No, we won't be signing him, definitely, we don't need him.'" Southampton snapped him up for £420,000, and Keegan made his Southampton debut at Lansdowne Road in a pre-season friendly against Shamrock Rovers on 23 July 1980.

Keegan's two seasons at The Dell saw him as part of a flamboyant team also containing Alan Ball, Phil Boyer, Mick Channon and Charlie George.[99] In 1980–81 Saints scored 76 goals, finishing in sixth place, their highest league finish to that point.[100]

In the following season, Keegan played some of his best football, and at the beginning of April 1982, Southampton sat at the top of the First Division table.[100] They managed only three wins after February, however, leading to a seventh-place finish, 21 points off first place.[101] Despite this, Keegan was voted the PFA Player of the Year and awarded the OBE for services to Association Football. Keegan had scored 26 of the team's 72 goals in First Division play, and was voted the club's Player of the Year.[102] This second season was the most prolific of his career, scoring 30 goals in all competitions and winning the golden boot.

Keegan fell out with McMenemy over the manager's failure to strengthen Southampton's defence (which conceded 67 goals in 1981–82) while the team was at the top of the table.[103] There were also rumours that McMenemy had charged the whole team of cheating after a 3–0 defeat by Aston Villa in April 1982, to which Keegan took great exception.[104] Although Keegan joined Saints' next pre–season tour, he had already decided to move. In 2019 Lawrie McMenemy explained that prior to the start of the 1982–83 season, Keegan believed that Southampton did not match his footballing ambitions, he had made up his mind and demanded to leave, and there was nothing the club could do about it.[105] A few days before the start of the 1982–83 season he signed for Newcastle United for a fee of £100,000.

1982–1984: Newcastle United[edit]

Keegan joined Newcastle United and spent two seasons there, during which time he was extremely popular with the supporters. The press conference to announce his signing was held in the Gosforth Park Hotel.[106] Upon signing the two-time Ballon d'Or winner for a second division squad, a local newspaper's main headline was simply, 'Here he is!'[107]

Keegan always felt at one stage in his career he would play for Newcastle United.[108] As a child Keegan's father would tell him football stories about Milburn and Gallagher. Keegan claimed his father would have loved Keegan playing football in black and white stripes, and to Keegan playing for Newcastle felt like coming home.[109] There was euphoria in Newcastle at the signing of Keegan and Keegan felt he was there to help the fans to start believing in themselves.[110] Keegan had never experienced that kind of deification before. Keegan explained, no one could have made him more welcome.[111] People had warned Keegan that whatever he was thinking his welcome would be like, it would not be enough.[112] To Keegan, who had played in a European Cup final, Wembley and Hamburg, the atmosphere on his debut was unique, explaining that the noise on his debut came from all sides of the ground like a surround-sound system. He made his debut and scored his first goal against QPR. After scoring, Keegan did something he had never done before—he instinctively and famously threw himself into the crowd to 'show the fans he was one of them.'[110] He explained to the press afterwards that 'I just wanted to stay there for ever...'[113] Keegan had a fear of letting the fans down, constantly telling himself, 'You can't let them down.'[114]

Keegan, along with Terry McDermott, Jeff Clark and David McCreery, now had senior status at the club. Newcastle manager, Arthur Cox, who would later join many of Keegan's coaching staffs, had a different relationship to Keegan than with other players. Cox would ask Keegan his opinion on players.[115]

To Keegan, Cox was a task master with a good sense of humour.[116] Cox would condition the players like commandos by having Keegan and his teammates running up and down the hills in Gateshead.[117]

In his first season Newcastle finished fifth, which Keegan maintained was a flattering league position after a faltering season.[118] Keegan finished the season with 21 goals in 37 appearances and won North East Player of the Year.[119]

In September 1983, Keegan answered a phone call at 1:00 am from Cox. In the phone call Cox explained to Keegan that he had signed a Peter Beardsley from the Vancouver Whitecaps, and suggested that Keegan would like him. A few days later Keegan met Beardsley at Benwell. Keegan and his teammates thought Beardsley was just a lad who had won a competition to train with the first team. It was only when they saw him in action that they knew he had something about him. At Beardsley's first training session Keegan could not believe his eyes. Keegan once stated about Beardsley, "At Scunthorpe I always thought Terry Heath had the wow factor, because of his skill on the ball, and when I moved to Liverpool I had never seen anyone with Peter Thompson's ability. By the time I started playing for Newcastle, however, I had played against Cruyff, Maradona and Pelé, and yet I have never had my mind blown as I did on the first day I saw Peter Beardsley."[120]

Keegan announced his retirement prior to the end of the 1983–84 season, on 14 February 1984—his 33rd birthday.[121] Keegan felt his career was finished after a cup game, a month prior, away at Liverpool. In this match Keegan was put through on goal from a pass that left him one-on-one with the keeper, Bruce Grobbelaar. He thought this was his moment to put Newcastle 1-0 up in front of the thousands of Newcastle fans behind the goal. Before he could finish his move and put the goal away, Keegan was intercepted by the recovering Mark Lawrenson. As Keegan was moving towards goal with his pace, Lawrenson caught up to him and stole the ball off him from the side. At this precise moment, it occurred to Keegan he had now lost his pace. At the end of the game a frustrated Keegan, whilst clapping off the fans, decided this would be his last season as a footballer.[122]

Keegan felt if he were to extend his career at Newcastle in the first division, he would have to adjust his game and move from the attacking role on which he built his footballing identity. Keegan did not want to move back into midfield, and instead decided to retire on a high note.[123]

'I was the mongrel who made it to Crufts, and that was fine by me...'

— Two-time European Footballer of the Year, Kevin Keegan, on his football career.[124]

Keegan's last league game was against Brighton & Hove Albion, scoring in a 3–1 victory. He played 78 times in his Newcastle career, scoring 48 goals and helping promote them from the Second Division in 1984. His final appearance for Newcastle came in a friendly against Liverpool some days later, leaving the pitch in a helicopter while still dressed in his kit.[125][126] Alan Shearer, a then-unknown 13-year-old who Keegan would later sign whilst manager of Newcastle, was a ball boy in Keegan's testimonial.[126]

Keegan moved with his family to Spain. He claimed he would never enter football management, but did carry out occasional work as a football pundit for British television.

1985: Blacktown City[edit]

In April 1985, Keegan briefly came out of retirement to play a two-game stint as a guest player for Blacktown City in Australia's National Soccer League. He scored in the first fixture in a 3–2 loss to Canberra City.[127]

International career[edit]

Keegan with England c. 1980, displayed on a Panini card

Keegan made his England debut on 15 November 1972 in a 1–0 World Cup qualifying win over Wales. Keegan managed only two appearances during this campaign, both against Wales, as England failed to qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup.[128]

He scored his first international goal in his third appearance, also against Wales, on 11 May 1974. He was given the captaincy by manager Don Revie in 1976 after Gerry Francis fell victim to a long-term injury. He went on to captain England 31 times, retaining the captain's armband until his international retirement after the 1982 World Cup.

Keegan captained England at Euro 1980. England failed to progress from the group stage after finishing third in their group behind Italy and Belgium.

He managed only one World Cup appearance, as England failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 tournaments. He finally reached the World Cup in 1982 in Spain. He was named in the squad for the tournament, but was suffering from a chronic back injury and was unfit to play in any of England's group games. In a last desperate effort to play in a World Cup—knowing that he would not be around for the 1986 competition—he secretly hired a car and drove from Spain to a specialist he knew in Germany for intensive treatment. He recovered sufficiently to appear as a substitute for the last 26 minutes of England's second-round game against Spain. While on the pitch, he missed a point-blank header which would have put England ahead. England needed to win by a scoreline better than 2–1 to progress to the semi-finals (a 2–1 victory would have left them tied with West Germany). England drew the game 0–0 and were eliminated from the competition.

Following the successful start to the 1982–83 season with Newcastle United, there was much controversy when newly appointed England manager Bobby Robson did not select Keegan for his first squad, a decision Keegan learned of from the media rather than Robson himself.[129] Keegan publicly expressed his displeasure at not being given the courtesy of a phone call from Robson, and never played for his country again. He finished his international career with 63 caps and 21 goals.

Managerial career[edit]

Newcastle United[edit]

On 5 February 1992, almost eight years after his final game as a player, Keegan returned to Newcastle United as manager. The club had been relegated from the top flight in 1989 and narrowly missed out on promotion in 1990 after losing in the playoffs to arch-rivals Sunderland. In 1991 they failed to make the playoffs and occupied last place in the Second Division at several stages. Following the dismissal of previous manager Ossie Ardiles, Keegan was appointed to prevent Newcastle from being relegated to the third tier for the first time in club history. The club was suffering from internal struggles and board room battles which were holding them back. After three or more years trying, John Hall had recently won the board room from the old regime. Though Hall was not yet confirmed as the chairman, he had accrued enough power to make the key decisions. Hall told board members one hour before Keegan's first press conference that Kevin Keegan would be the manager.[130] Keegan had only watched two live matches in seven years. One was the European Cup final in 1991 and the other being a Newcastle United 0–0 draw against Blackburn; as such, it was suggested that Keegan was unprepared and inexperienced.[131]

When Keegan turned up to Benwell for his first training session as manager, he noted the training ground was in a mess. He was surprised at the neglect of the facilities.[132] The training ground was in the process of being sold; despite this, Keegan paid for the clean-up of the grounds with his own money, with the cleaning work being done in one weekend. Keegan felt this clean-up work was an important move and an indirect message to the players that their professionalism had to be high.

Assessing the squad, Keegan felt the team was not good enough to reach the level at which he and Terry McDermott once played.[133] In five-a-sides he and McDermott, both in their 40s with a lack of conditioning, believed they were two of the best players. Keegan noted the club had an impressive crop of youth players. This crop included: Lee Clark, Steve Watson, Steve Howey, Alan Thompson and Robbie Elliott. These young players would form the core of Keegan's Newcastle squads from 1992 to 1997. Keegan noted Steve Watson would take throw-ins via a somersault throw and this amused and shocked him. He regarded it as a gimmick and could not believe the fans would take joy in it. The throw-in, to Keegan, was a sign of how far Newcastle had fallen.[134] He wanted the club to be known for scoring goals and thrilling football. Prior to his first game, Keegan made his first tough call with his squad of players when he dropped the midfielder Lee Clark.[135] Though he liked Clark's spirit, Keegan believed he was at risk of being sent off. Prior to the game Keegan arranged a training match for the reserves and included himself to make up the numbers.[136] In the training match a frustrated Clark went through the back of Keegan in a knee-high tackle on a hospital pass, in a similar way to a Romeo Benetti tackle on Keegan in an England versus Italy match. A melee ensued, resulting in Pavel Srnicek swinging a roundhouse kick at Lee Clark's head. Keegan was not upset and he did not punish either player. To Keegan, Srnicek and Clark's response showed they cared about their football. Keegan's first game, against Bristol City, ended in 3–0 victory in front of a capacity crowd.

Keegan managing Newcastle United in April 2008

On 14 March 1992, following a 3–1 win over Swindon Town, Keegan became frustrated with John Hall.[137] Keegan had been not given the transfer funds he was promised. As a result of this frustration, Keegan briefly walked out on the team. This resulted in a phone call between Keegan and Hall, where they settled their differences, and where Hall guaranteed millions of pounds to spend on new players.[138] Further assessing his squad, Keegan noted some players could not handle the pressure and would sneak in by a turnstile rather than meet and greet the big crowds at the front entrance prior to games.[139] Keegan decided to move these players on. With the club's transfer funds Keegan decided he needed a leader in the team.[140] Keegan signed the experienced Brian Kilcline. Keegan stated about Kilcline, "Even on his bad days his head never dropped, he was tough as teak, absolutely fearless," and "He was a ready-made captain, one of my more important signings as Newcastle's manager." Keegan's managerial guidance in the 1991–92 season helped Newcastle finish 20th out of 24 teams in the Second Division, avoiding relegation. This meant, with the establishment of the new FA Premier League, the team would play in the new Division One for the 1992–93 season.

Prior to the 1992–93 season, Keegan strengthened the defence with the acquisition of Barry Venison from Liverpool and John Beresford from Portsmouth. Newcastle began the season with 11 successive wins and led the league virtually all season. The club-record signing of Bristol City striker Andy Cole in February further strengthened their side; Cole netted 12 goals in his first 12 games for the club. The addition of Charlton Athletic's Rob Lee bolstered the midfield in the autumn. Newcastle finished first in Division One, eight points clear of second-place West Ham, and were promoted to the Premier League as Division One champions.

Top scorer David Kelly and influential midfielder Gavin Peacock were both sold after the season, and Keegan brought striker Peter Beardsley back to Newcastle from Everton, six years after he had been sold by Newcastle to Liverpool.

1993–94 was an enormous success for Newcastle as they finished third in the Premier League and qualified for the UEFA Cup, bringing European football to the club for the first time since the 1970s. Andy Cole was the Premier League's top scorer with 34 goals in 40 games, and he sest a club record with a total of 41 goals in all competitions.

Keegan then strengthened his side by signing Swiss defender Marc Hottiger, Belgian defensive midfielder Philippe Albert, and Norwich City's quick winger, Ruel Fox.

Newcastle won their first six games of the 1994–95 season to top the league and they appeared capable of winning their first league title since 1927. But the shock departure of Andy Cole to Manchester United in January weakened their attack, and they finished the season in sixth place—not enough for another UEFA Cup campaign. In the meantime, autumn signing Paul Kitson was partnered with Beardsley in attack.

Keegan made several important additions to the Newcastle side in the summer of 1995: Reading goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, Paris Saint-Germain's French winger David Ginola, QPR striker Les Ferdinand, and Wimbledon defender Warren Barton. Ferdinand was Newcastle's biggest signing at £6 million, while the £4 million paid for Barton was the highest fee paid for a defender in English football at the time.

Newcastle excelled in the first half of the 1995–96 season, leading the league by ten points on 23 December 1995 and holding a 12-point lead from early in January to 4 February. After a 2–0 defeat at West Ham on 21 February, the lead was cut to nine points. A 1–0 defeat at the hands of fellow title-challengers Manchester United cut the gap to a single point on 4 March. Within two weeks, Newcastle's lead evaporated and they were unable to recover it. Newcastle's 4–3 defeat to Liverpool on 3 April is widely considered to be a classic Premier League match. With two games remaining, Newcastle and Manchester United both had 76 points. Newcastle managed a 1–1 draw against Nottingham Forest on 2 May, and another 1–1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur on the final day of the season. The title was won by Manchester United, whose 3–0 triumph at Middlesbrough would have been enough to win, regardless of Newcastle's result against Tottenham. Keegan stated in 2018 that if Newcastle United had won the title in that season, the squad, which included players such as Les Ferdinand, Darren Peacock, David Ginola, Peter Beardsley, Faustino Asprilla, and Rob Lee, would have stayed together, built up momentum, and won more trophies.[141]

During the race for the 1995–96 title, Keegan directed remarks at the Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, during a post-match interview live on Sky Sports. His outburst—"I would love it if we beat them! Love it!"—is frequently referred to when describing their relationship.[142] In April 2003, it was named as Quote of the Decade in the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards and Most Memorable Quote in the 20 Seasons Awards in May 2012. It also appeared in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Sporting Moments.[143]

Keegan then broke the world transfer fee record by signing and English striker Alan Shearer from Blackburn Rovers in July 1996. Shearer, who had been the Premier League's top scorer the last two seasons, was born in Newcastle and had grown up as a fan of the club.[144] He made an instant impact on his native Tyneside. The club lost his debut, a 4–0 Charity Shield defeat at the hands of Manchester United, but redeemed themselves two months later with a 5–0 victory against United in which Shearer scored. Newcastle briefly led the league at several stages in the first half of the season, and Shearer led the league scoring 25 goals.[145]

On 8 January 1997, Keegan announced his resignation as manager. A club statement following his resignation read:

Newcastle United Football Club today announce the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan. Kevin informed the board of his wish to resign at the end of the season, having decided he no longer wishes to continue in football management at this stage in his life. Following lengthy discussions of which the board attempted to persuade Kevin to change his mind, both parties eventually agreed that the best route forward was for the club to, reluctantly, accept his resignation with immediate effect.

Keegan left the club with a short statement reading:

It was my decision and my decision alone to resign. I feel I have taken the club as far as I can, and that it would be in the best interests of all concerned if I resigned now. I wish the club and everyone concerned with it all the best for the future.

On the Newcastle United DVD Magpie Magic, it is said that chairman John Hall asked for a long-term commitment as manager from him, which Keegan was unwilling to give. It also states that the pressure and criticism of selling Andy Cole, and the failed title challenge in 1995–96, took a toll on him.[146]

He was succeeded by Kenny Dalglish, the same man who had replaced him as a player at Liverpool 20 years earlier. Newcastle finished second place that season, and in the following season finished outside the top ten in the Premier League, although they were FA Cup runners-up. They did not return to the top five of the Premier League until the 2001–02 season, when they finished fourth under Sir Bobby Robson.

It was during his time as coach that Keegan gained the nickname "King Kev" from Newcastle fans.


Keegan returned to football on 25 September 1997 as Chief Operating Officer at Division Two Fulham, with Ray Wilkins as head coach. Fulham finished sixth in the final table, but Wilkins was sacked just before the first leg of the playoff semi-final and Keegan took over as manager.

His appointment came a few months after the takeover of the club by Harrods owner Mohamed Al-Fayed, who gave Keegan £10 million to spend on players that season. That was the first part of a £40 million attempt to deliver Premier League football to the Craven Cottage club, who had been outside the top flight since 1968, and had not played in the league's second tier since 1986.[147]

Keegan was unable to inspire Fulham to overcome Grimsby Town in the playoffs, but good form in 1998–99—helped by the acquisition of players who would normally have signed with Premier League or Division One clubs—clinched them the Division Two title and promotion to Division One. Keegan left at the end of the season to concentrate on his duties as England manager, having succeeded Glenn Hoddle in February 1999.[148]

Fulham replaced Keegan with Paul Bracewell and reached the Premier League two years later under Bracewell's successor, Jean Tigana. The squad still featured many of the players bought by Keegan or Wilkins.[149]


Keegan as England manager with a Newcastle United fan in Malta

After weeks of speculation,[150] Keegan was named as the new England manager on 18 February 1999. He succeeded Glenn Hoddle, who had been sacked two weeks earlier for a newspaper interview in which he suggested that disabled people were being punished for their sins in a previous life.[151][152] Keegan led the team to a winning start with 3–1 victory over Poland to reignite England's campaign to qualify for Euro 2000 in Group 5.[153] Points dropped in draws against Sweden, Bulgaria, and the return fixture against Poland left England facing elimination as they sat out the last round of matches. Poland lost their last match to Sweden, and England snuck into the qualification playoff with Scotland. Two goals from Paul Scholes gave them a 2–0 win in the first leg,[154] and despite a 1–0 defeat in the second leg,[155] they qualified for the championships for the fourth straight tournament.

This success brought goodwill, but Keegan began to come under fire for his perceived tactical naivety. This came to a head during the unsuccessful Euro 2000 tournament. England began with a 3–2 defeat against Portugal, despite having a 2–0 lead after 17 minutes.[156] England beat Germany 1-0 in their next game, the first English victory over Germany in a competitive match since 1966. In the final group game against Romania, England once again lost 3–2, this time after taking a 2–1 lead, and their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals were over.[157]

Keegan resigned as England manager on 7 October 2000.[158][159] This came after England lost to Germany in their first 2002 World Cup qualifier, the last game played at Wembley Stadium before the old stadium was rebuilt. [160] Keegan won only 38.9% of his games in charge, the lowest such percentage of any permanent England manager—although unlike Don Revie (1974–1977) or Steve McClaren (2006–2007), Keegan achieved qualification to a major tournament for England.

When Sven-Göran Eriksson became England manager, he appointed the 64-year-old Tord Grip as his assistant. This caused Keegan to complain that when he was England manager, the FA had told him that he could not have Arthur Cox as his assistant because at 60, Cox was too old. Keegan went on, "I wasn't allowed to bring in the people I wanted and that was wrong. Mr. Eriksson was and I'm delighted for him because that's the way it should be."[161]

Manchester City[edit]

On 24 May 2001, Keegan returned to football as successor to Joe Royle at Manchester City, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. Keegan signed experienced international players such as Stuart Pearce, Eyal Berkovic and Ali Benarbia. That season, City were promoted as Division One champions after scoring 108 league goals. Keegan was the first manager in the Premier League era to win the Division One title with two clubs.[162]

Keegan and Liverpool striker Lauri Dalla Valle in 2007

In preparation for his second season as manager (2002–03), he signed Nicolas Anelka, Peter Schmeichel and Marc-Vivien Foé. That season saw mixed results. Manchester City beat Liverpool at Anfield and took four points from Manchester United (their previous win in the Manchester derby being in September 1989), but conceded five goals away to Chelsea and again at home to Arsenal. They secured their Premier League status comfortably by finishing ninth. Keegan also guided City into the UEFA Cup, qualifying via the UEFA Fair Play ranking.[162]

For 2003–04, the club's first season at the new City of Manchester Stadium, Keegan added Steve McManaman, Paul Bosvelt, David Seaman and Michael Tarnat to City's squad.[163] City started well and were fifth in the league on 5 November. However, a draw at home to Polish minnows Groclin led to their second-round elimination from the UEFA Cup, and was followed by a slump in form. City did not win again in the league until 21 February, and finished 16th in the league. The most notable match of the season came at Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup on 4 February 2004. Despite being down 3–0 at halftime (with ten men after Joey Barton was sent off), City came back to win 4–3.

2004–05 brought better form for Manchester City, but Keegan agreed to leave as manager on 10 March 2005 after telling the chairman his desire to retire from football at the end of the season.[162] The club went on to finish eighth under his successor Stuart Pearce, and only missed out on a UEFA Cup place when Robbie Fowler missed a penalty in stoppage time of a 1–1 draw with Middlesbrough on the last day of the season. Earlier that season, while still under Keegan's management, City beat Chelsea 1–0 which turned out to be the only defeat in the league that season for Chelsea, who ended up as Premier League champions.[164]

After declaring his retirement from football in 2005, Keegan remained out of the media spotlight, working at the Soccer Circus football school in Glasgow.[165] In October 2007, he indicated he was unlikely to manage again.[166]

Return to Newcastle[edit]

Following the dismissal of manager Sam Allardyce,[167] Keegan made an unexpected return to Newcastle United on 16 January 2008. Newcastle fans welcomed the manager back as he arrived to see the FA Cup third-round replay against Stoke City, alongside owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort.[168] He managed his first game at the club since 1997 against Bolton Wanderers on 19 January 2008.[169] He awarded the club captaincy to Michael Owen, stating, "He's not scared to give his opinion when he's right, and he's not scared to say what he feels. He's a tremendous professional, and he trains properly every day."[170] Keegan announced on 22 January that he and Alan Shearer held talks about the two linking up, with Shearer as his assistant, but decided against the idea, leaving the door open for Shearer to take other roles.[171]

Keegan's first eight games back at Newcastle passed without a win. On 22 March 2008, Newcastle earned the first win of Keegan's second managerial spell, a 2–0 victory against his former club, Fulham.[172] The team followed it up with wins over Tottenham and Sunderland, maintaining his perfect record over the club's local rivals in the Tyne-Wear derby, and also putting Newcastle on top of the league's form chart.[173][174] This run of good form was hugely thanks to a new 4–3–3 formation, spearheaded by the productive strike trio of Obafemi Martins, Michael Owen and Mark Viduka. The trio scored 11 of the club's 14 goals in this run, which safely secured the club from a relegation battle. Newcastle's seven-game unbeaten run came to an end in a home defeat to Chelsea, and they finished the season in 12th place.[175]

That summer, Newcastle signed Argentine winger Jonás Gutiérrez,[176] as well as his countryman, defender Fabricio Coloccini from Deportivo de La Coruña, among others.[177][178] Newcastle began the 2008–09 season with a 1–1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford, having lost the previous season's fixtures 6–0 and 5–1.[179] They beat Bolton 1–0 the following week,[180] and Coventry City 3–2 in the second round of the League Cup on 26 August.[181]

Resignation and Premier League Arbitration Panel[edit]

As the 2007–08 season drew to a close, rumours of tensions between the club's directors and Keegan began to surface, as he publicly criticised the board, claiming they were not providing him the financial support necessary to break into the top four of the Premier League standings.[182] His accusations caused bad press for owner Mike Ashley, who was already battling reports that he had lost hundreds of millions of pounds in a disastrous stock market venture.[183]

Following the closure of the transfer window at midnight on 1 September 2008, various media sources reported that Keegan had either resigned from the club or had been sacked,[184] leading to fan protests around St James' Park.[185] The club released statements denying that Keegan had left, but stated that talks were ongoing between the manager and members of the board.[186][187] On 4 September 2008, Keegan issued a statement confirming that he had resigned the same day, stating that, "A manager must have the right to manage and that clubs should not impose upon any manager any player that he does not want."[6] Late on Friday 12 September 2008, it was reported Keegan met owner Mike Ashley in London in an attempt to resolve their differences, but the meeting ended without a satisfactory conclusion for either party.[188]

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers Association (LMA), stated the following month that Keegan would consider a return to the club but only if those who held the ownership were willing to develop a structure which he was happy with.[189] The club was also warned by the LMA on 5 September 2008 to develop a structure which would satisfy the next manager to replace Keegan to avoid a similar situation repeating itself and damaging the club's image.[190] Following Dennis Wise's resignation as director of football in April 2009, many fans directed the blame for Keegan's exit at both Wise and owner Mike Ashley, as a result of such a position being established and poorly used.[191]

In December 2008 it was reported that, following Ashley's decision to withdraw the sale of Newcastle, a legal dispute over Keegan's departure from had arisen; Keegan claimed unfair dismissal and Ashley claimed damage to his public image.[192] In September 2009, it was reported that Keegan had met with Ashley and the Newcastle board—including former members—in a Premier League arbitration hearing for a claim of £10 million in compensation for his shock resignation.[193] All sides agreed to the arbitration being held publicly.[194]

Keegan's dispute with the club was resolved in October 2009. The tribunal ruled in favour of Keegan, agreeing that Newcastle had constructively dismissed him by insisting on the signing of midfielder Nacho González on loan, against his wishes. The move was made to replace James Milner following his move to Aston Villa, after a bid for Bayern Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger was rejected.[195] Although Wise's signing of Spanish striker Xisco was not mentioned in the hearing, Keegan stated that this had also been a central factor in his departure.[196]

The ruling was based around seven issues.[197] The panel declared that Keegan had been led to believe he had the final decision on player transfers, and was never explicitly told in writing, his contract, nor by word of mouth that he did not, nor that his role would see him report to others. Given the generally understood role of a Premiership manager, the panel agreed he could reasonably expect that this was not a factor. The club's signing of González meant that they had violated his employment contract, which amounted to constructive dismissal. While González was the main issue in the decision, the club's alleged mistreatment of Keegan, claiming they were in a position to sack him should he not agree to the terms they offered, as well as his decision to remain at the club until 4 September instead of resigning on 1 September, allowing the club to reach a compromise, led to the ruling in Keegan's favour. Keegan was awarded £2 million (plus interest accrued) according to severance clauses in his contract. Claims for more were turned down on the basis that the standard contract severance clauses covered constructive dismissal. Keegan stated afterwards that the purpose of his claim had been to restore his reputation, and was delighted with the outcome, allowing him to move forward.[198]

In pursuit of winning the tribunal, the club admitted to misleading the media and their fans. Several key senior staff, including Dennis Wise and Derek Llambias, had publicly claimed that Keegan had "the final word"; they claimed to the tribunal that this was not in fact the case and that their claims were just "PR". It was then revealed that Wise asked Keegan to sign González after watching him "on YouTube". On 21 October, a subsequent meeting of the same panel found that the club should pay all legal and associated costs incurred by Keegan as a result of the tribunal. They reached this conclusion based on their view that the club's "defence on the primary liability issue was, in our view, wholly without merit".[199]

Keegan stated after the hearing he still wanted to manage top flight football, and would consider returning to his position at the club, but felt the fans may be exhausted from his last tenure and would prefer him not to.[200] In June 2013, Keegan stated he would only consider a return should owner Mike Ashley leave the club.[201] Keegan has continued to criticise Ashley, accusing him of a lack of respect for the fans.[202]

Following the sale of Newcastle United to the Public Investment Fund, Keegan spoke publicly at an event in Cramlington, stating his delight at Ashley's departure and excitement at the new ownership's ability to compete financially with the wealthiest football clubs in the world.[203]

Personal life[edit]

In September 1970 Keegan met his future wife, Jean Woodhouse, on the Waltzers at Doncaster fair.[204] They married on 23 September 1974 and have two daughters.[205]

Keegan became renowned for his "poodle perm" hair in the 1970s, and has regularly appeared at the top of "worst hairstyles" surveys.[206][207]

In July 2008, Flybe International announced the naming of one of their new Bombardier Q400 aircraft in honour of Keegan's service to Newcastle United, both as a player and as manager. The plane was used on the regular service from Newcastle International Airport to London's Gatwick Airport.[208]

He is known for aiding charities, including appearances at cricket matches for Lord's Taverners and Sussex Cricket Club.[209][210]


In 1976, Keegan competed in the BBC's television programme Superstars. Despite suffering severe cuts after crashing his bicycle, he insisted on re-racing and secured second place in the event, before going on to win that edition of the programme.[211] He also advertised Brut aftershave alongside boxer Henry Cooper.

In 1979 Keegan and his wife were featured on ITV's "Brian Moore meets Kevin Keegan," a documentary filmed over the course of the season. Cameras documented activities at the family's Hamburg home and Keegan's personal business appearances, offering a rare glimpse into the life of a modern millionaire footballer away from the pitch.[212]

The same year, during his daughter's christening reception at a London hotel, Eamonn Andrews, the presenter of This Is Your Life, emerged from a giant cake to surprise Keegan and his guests with his famous big red book. The TV show was broadcast on Keegan's 28th birthday, ten days later. Keegan quipped, "I'm so glad that I wore brown trousers."

He narrated the 90-minute documentary Keegan on Keegan, released via Castle Vision on VHS cassette in 1992.

In August 2009, nearly a year after his departure from Newcastle, Keegan resurfaced after being confirmed as the lead pundit on ESPN.[213] During the course of the 2010 World Cup, Keegan featured as a pundit for ITV broadcasts. He was part of ESPN's live coverage of the 2011, 2012 and 2013 FA Cup finals, with pitch-side build-up and post-match commentary.


Keegan released a single in 1972 titled "It Ain't Easy". His song "Head Over Heels in Love", written by Chris Norman and Pete Spencer, was released on 9 June 1979. It peaked at number 31 in the UK charts, but climbed to number 10 in Germany where Keegan was based at the time, and where Norman's band Smokie was popular.[214] He released another single, "England", on his return to England from Germany, but it failed to chart.


In April 1991, he was attacked while sleeping in his Range Rover by the M25 at Reigate Hill in Surrey. His assailants later said in court that they needed money for a drug debt and had no idea they were attacking Keegan.[215]

Career statistics[edit]


Appearances and goals by club, season and competition[216]
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Continental Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Scunthorpe United 1968–69 Fourth Division 33 2 1 0 1 0 0 0 35 2
1969–70 46 6 7 3 1 0 0 0 54 9
1970–71 45 10 6 0 1 1 0 0 52 11
Total 124 18 14 3 3 1 0 0 141 22
Liverpool 1971–72 First Division 35 9 3 2 1 0 3 0 42 11
1972–73 41 13 4 0 8 5 11 4 64 22
1973–74 42 12 9 6 6 1 4 0 61 19
1974–75 33 10 2 1 3 0 3 1 41 12
1975–76 41 12 2 1 3 0 11 3 57 16
1976–77 38 12 8 4 2 0 8 4 56 20
Total 230 68 28 14 23 6 40 12 321 100
Hamburger SV 1977–78 Bundesliga 25 6 4 4 4 2 33 12
1978–79 34 17 1 0 35 17
1979–80 31 9 3 0 9[a] 2 43 11
Total 90 32 8 4 0 0 13 4 111 40
Southampton 1980–81 First Division 27 11 4 1 1 0 0 0 32 12
1981–82 41 26 1 1 2 1 4 2 48 30
Total 68 37 5 2 3 1 4 2 80 42
Newcastle United 1982–83 Second Division 37 21 2 0 2 0 0 0 41 21
1983–84 41 27 1 0 2 1 0 0 44 28
Total 78 48 3 0 4 1 0 0 85 49
Blacktown City 1985 National Soccer League 2 1 2 1
Career total 592 204 58 23 33 9 57 18 740 254
  1. ^ Appearances in European Cup


Appearances and goals by national team and year[216][217]
National team Year Apps Goals
England 1972 1 0
1973 1 0
1974 7 2
1975 8 2
1976 9 2
1977 8 2
1978 6 3
1979 8 5
1980 6 3
1981 5 1
1982 4 1
Total 63 21
Scores and results list England's goal tally first, score column indicates score after each Keegan goal.[217]
List of international goals scored by Kevin Keegan
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1 11 May 1974 Ninian Park, Cardiff  Wales 2–0 2–0 1974 British Home Championship
2 5 June 1974 Stadion FK Crvena Zvezda, Belgrade  Yugoslavia 2–2 2–2 Friendly
3 11 May 1975 Tsirion Stadium, Cyprus  Cyprus 1–0 1–0 Euro 1976 qualifier
4 3 September 1975 St. Jakob-Park, Basel   Switzerland 1–0 2–1 Friendly
5 13 June 1976 Helsinki Olympic Stadium, Helsinki  Finland 2–1 4–1 1978 World Cup qualifier
6 4–1
7 30 March 1977 Wembley Stadium, London  Luxembourg 1–0 5–0 1978 World Cup qualifier
8 16 November 1977 Wembley Stadium, London  Italy 1–0 2–0 1978 World Cup qualifier
9 19 April 1978 Wembley Stadium, London  Brazil 1–1 1–1 Friendly
10 20 September 1978 Parken Stadium, Copenhagen  Denmark 1–0 4–3 Euro 1980 qualifier
11 2–0
12 7 February 1979 Wembley Stadium, London  Northern Ireland 1–0 4–0 Euro 1980 qualifier
13 26 May 1979 Wembley Stadium, London  Scotland 3–1 3–1 1979 British Home Championship
14 6 June 1979 Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia  Bulgaria 1–0 3–0 Euro 1980 qualifier
15 13 June 1979 Praterstadion, Vienna  Austria 1–2 3–4 Friendly
16 12 September 1979 Wembley Stadium, London  Denmark 1–0 1–0 Euro 1980 qualifier
17 6 February 1980 Wembley Stadium, London  Republic of Ireland 1–0 2–0 Euro 1980 qualifier
18 2–0
19 13 May 1980 Wembley Stadium, London  Argentina 3–1 3–1 Friendly
20 6 June 1981 Népstadion, Budapest  Hungary 3–1 3–1 1982 World Cup qualifier
21 23 February 1982 Wembley Stadium, London  Northern Ireland 2–0 4–0 1982 British Home Championship

Managerial statistics[edit]

As of match played 30 November 2013.
Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Newcastle United 5 February 1992 8 January 1997 251 138 51 62 054.98
Fulham 7 May 1998 9 May 1999 61 38 12 11 062.30
England 18 February 1999 7 October 2000 18 7 7 4 038.89
Manchester City 24 May 2001 11 March 2005 176 77 39 60 043.75
Newcastle United 16 January 2008 4 September 2008 22 7 6 9 031.82
Total 528 267 115 146 050.57








Newcastle United


Manchester City



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  2. ^ a b "Kevin Keegan factfile". BBC. 7 October 2000. Retrieved 14 July 2006.
  3. ^ "The 50 greatest footballers of all time". 90min. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
  4. ^ "Kevin Keegan: how Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle fell Head Over Heels In Love with King Kev". FourFourTwo]. 26 December 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2023.
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  • Hodges, Michael (19 September 1997). Kevin Keegan (first ed.). United Kingdom: Boxtree. ISBN 9780752224763.
  • Keegan, Kevin (1998). My Autobiography. London: Warner Books. ISBN 978-0-7515-2377-5.
  • Keegan, Kevin (4 October 2018). My Life in Football: The Autobiography. United Kingdom: Pan Macmillan. ISBN 978-1509877201.

External links[edit]