Keown in 2015
|Full name||Martin Raymond Keown|
|Date of birth||24 July 1966|
|Place of birth||Oxford, England|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Playing position||Central defender|
|1985||→ Brighton & Hove Albion (loan)||23||(1)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Martin Raymond Keown (//; born 24 July 1966) is an English former professional footballer who played as a defender from 1984 to 2005, notably in the Premier League for Arsenal, where he made over 400 appearances for the club and won 10 honours.
He also played for Brighton & Hove Albion, Aston Villa, Everton, Leicester City and Reading. Keown made his England debut in 1992 against France and went on to win 43 caps for the national side over the next 10 years, gradually forming a respected defensive partnership with Arsenal teammate Tony Adams at both club and international level. Keown represented England at four major international football finals including the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
He is now a part-time scout and coach for Arsenal, as well as a pundit for the BBC, ESPN, TV3, and Al Jazeera Sports +3. He came out of retirement in 2012 and briefly played for Combined Counties League Premier Division side Wembley in their FA Cup fixtures.
A centre back from Oxford, Keown played for local sides and his local Gaelic football team as a boy, before joining Arsenal on a schoolboy contract in 1980, though he made his professional debut on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion in 1984. His debut for Arsenal came on 23 November 1985, when Don Howe was still their manager, and they drew 0–0 with West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns. He played 22 league games that season, mostly alongside Tommy Caton or David O'Leary, but when George Graham was appointed manager on 14 May 1986, he decided that Keown was not part of his plans to try and turn Arsenal into league title contenders and on 9 June 1986 he joined Aston Villa for £200,000.
Keown signed for Villa after a season in which they had narrowly avoided relegation to the Second Division, a mere four years after being European Cup winners and five years since being league champions. Manager Graham Turner was under a lot of pressure, and after their dismal form continued into the 1986–87 season he was sacked on 14 September 1986 and succeeded by Billy McNeill. Keown appeared in 36 league games that season, but he was unable to save Villa from finishing bottom of the First Division and being relegated after 12 successive seasons in the top flight.
Graham Taylor then arrived at Villa Park to succeed the sacked McNeill, and Keown was very much part of his rebuilding plans as he missed just two league games and scored three goals as Villa finished second in the Second Division and won promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt. Keown helped the team secure its top flight status the following season, but was sold to Everton on 7 August 1989, just before the start of the 1989–90 season, for a fee of £750,000.
Keown had a fine start to his Everton career, and they topped the table for a while in late autumn and there was hope that they could win the league title, but their form ebbed away after Christmas and they managed only a sixth-place finish. Keown managed 20 league appearances that campaign and a slightly better 24 in 1990–91, when Harvey was replaced by Howard Kendall as manager in November. He missed just three league games in 1991–92, which brought another mid-table finish, and he played just 13 more league games for the Toffees before accepting a £2 million return to Arsenal in February 1993.
Return to Arsenal
Keown did not feature in Arsenal's historic FA Cup and League Cup double of 1993 due to being cup-tied. However, he did manage 16 Premier League appearances, mostly at the expense of Steve Bould, forming arguably the most intense battle for central defensive positions in the Premier League at the time. He and Andy Linighan were high quality defenders competing alongside Bould and captain Tony Adams in the centre of one of the best English league defences of the 1990s.
Keown also missed out on Arsenal's Cup Winners' Cup Final win over Parma the following year (although he did play a part in the overall campaign after appearing in earlier rounds. However, he did start the final the following season when Arsenal were narrowly beaten by Real Zaragoza after extra time.
He rarely missed a game in his first four full seasons back at Highbury, though in the 1997–98 double winning campaign, the 31-year-old Keown was selected just 18 times in the Premier League by manager Arsène Wenger as he claimed the first two major trophies of his career after well over a decade of waiting. A particular career low for Keown came in the 1998-99 season when he failed to stop Ryan Giggs' famous solo goal in the FA Cup semi-final replay. Keown has publicly blamed Lee Dixon for the goal, but Keown's own poor positioning and failure to stay on his feet is considered by many to have been much more of a contributing factor in what Arsene Wenger would later call a devastating symbolic moment in the history of the Arsenal Football Club.
Keown later became an integral part of Arsène Wenger's double Double winning sides of 1998 and 2002, remaining a first team regular until the end of the 2002–03 season, when the Gunners won their ninth FA Cup but blew the chance of a unique fourth double due to a late loss of form in the league.
On 20 September 2003, during Arsenal and Manchester United's match at Old Trafford, Manchester United were awarded a late penalty, with the score at 0–0. Ruud van Nistelrooy stepped up to take the penalty, and hit the bar with it. After the penalty, Keown and Ray Parlour confronted van Nistelrooy, and Keown hit him on the back of the head. Keown remained at Arsenal until 2004, winning another Premier League title, before being released on a free transfer. His final season brought 10 league appearances – the minimum to qualify for a title winner's medal.
He signed for Leicester City, but left after less than six months and signed for Reading in January 2005 until the end of the season, after which he retired. As part of a publicity stunt Keown, and a number of other former professional players, including Ray Parlour, Danny Dichio, Jaime Moreno, Graeme Le Saux, Claudio Caniggia and Brian McBride, joined non-league Wembley in order to take part in their 2012–13 FA Cup run. Wembley were knocked out in a replay by Uxbridge after beating Langford out in the previous round.
Keown played U16 and U18 for England. When it was learned that his mother and father were Irish, Jack Charlton made an inquiry as to his availability to play for the Republic of Ireland but Keown choose to represent the country of his birth. He was also eligible to play for Northern Ireland as his father was from County Fermanagh. He made his England debut in 1992 against France. With an injury to Mark Wright he was called up into England's squad for UEFA Euro 1992, and played in all three of England's matches.
Keown's early ascension to the England team under Graham Taylor did not continue under Terry Venables, who ignored him completely. Keown earned a recall from Glenn Hoddle in 1997, and went to the 1998 World Cup, but did not play. Keown became a regular under Kevin Keegan (captaining the side against Finland) and played in two of England's Euro 2000 matches.
By the time Sven-Göran Eriksson became manager, Keown's age was starting to count against him, though he went to the 2002 World Cup, again as a non-playing squad member. Keown retired from international football the day after England's exit at the hands of Brazil. In all he played 43 times for England, scoring two goals.
Management and career outside football
Keown joined the coaching staff of Newbury in August 2005, but is now coaching back at former club Arsenal where he is taking his coaching badges. He has been identified by former Arsenal manager Terry Neill as a key figure behind the success of Arsenal's inexperienced "new-look" defence (which the team resorted to after ongoing injury problems in the 2005–06 season, notably setting a record for minutes played without conceding in the Champions League). In 2007–08 Keown was also a coach for the Oxford University Blues Football team on a part-time basis.
Keown regularly appears as a pundit on the BBC's football coverage and Match of the Day, as well as covering the Champions League for Irish broadcaster TV3. He was also working for ESPN UK during the 2011 Emirates Cup. Keown is known for regularly starting his analysis by saying 'Listen' despite the fact he is invariably being listened to by presenters, fellow pundits and the television audience.
- Premier League: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2003–04
- FA Cup: 1997–98, 2001–02, 2002–03
- FA Community Shield: 1998, 1999, 2002
- European Cup Winners' Cup: 1993–94
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