Steve McManaman

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Steve McManaman
1 steve mcmanaman 2017.jpg
McManaman playing in a friendly in 2017
Personal information
Full name Steven McManaman
Date of birth (1972-02-11) 11 February 1972 (age 46)
Place of birth Kirkdale, Lancashire, England
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Playing position Midfielder
Youth career
1988–1990 Liverpool
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1990–1999 Liverpool 272 (46)
1999–2003 Real Madrid 94 (8)
2003–2005 Manchester City 35 (0)
Total 401 (54)
National team
1991–1993 England U21 7 (1)
1994–2001 England 37 (3)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only

Steven McManaman (born 11 February 1972) is an English former footballer who played as a midfielder for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester City.[1][2] McManaman is the most decorated English footballer to have played for a club abroad, with the UEFA website stating that "of all England's footballing exports in the modern era, none was as successful as McManaman".[3][4] He is currently a co-commentator on BT Sport football coverage.

After nine years at Liverpool, during which time he won the FA Cup and League Cup, McManaman moved to Real Madrid in 1999. The transfer became one of the most controversial and high-profile Bosman rulings of all time.[5][6] He became the first English player to win the UEFA Champions League with a non-English club in 2000, and two years later became the first English player to win the Champions League twice.[7][7] He also won La Liga twice before moving to Manchester City in 2003 and retiring from football in 2005. After his retirement, he worked as a football pundit for Setanta Sports, ESPN and BT Sport. In 2008, he was ranked third in a Top 10 of the greatest British footballers to play overseas, just behind Kevin Keegan and John Charles.[8]

Club career[edit]

McManaman at a memorial match for Liverpool in 2009.


Early days[edit]

McManaman grew up as an Everton supporter,[9] but when Everton offered the player a one-year contract (after McManaman had made a name for himself at tournaments for school and around Merseyside), McManaman's father rejected it in favour of a schoolboy contract and two-year apprenticeship offer from Liverpool.[9] McManaman signed as a 16-year-old apprentice upon leaving school in 1988.[1] As an apprentice, McManaman was under the mentoring of John Barnes - one of the players McManaman was a potential eventual replacement for.[10] A natural athlete and cross country champion at school level (once beating Curtis Robb),[11][12][13] he developed through the youth scheme at Liverpool and signed as a full professional on 19 February 1990 in what was to be Kenny Dalglish's final full season as manager.[14] He made his Liverpool debut under Dalglish as a substitute for Peter Beardsley in the Football League First Division on 15 December 1990, in a 2–0 league win over Sheffield United at Anfield,[15] and made his full debut in a 2–1 win over Oldham Athletic the following season, by which time Graeme Souness had become the new manager.[10] He scored his first ever professional goal with a diving header four days later on 21 August 1991 in the 2–1 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road.

The 19-year-old McManaman quickly became a regular first team player in the 1991-92 season, making 51 appearances in total, a result of both his form and his being thrown in the deep end after his mentor, Barnes, suffered a career threatening Achilles Tendon injury.[citation needed] He created and scored several goals that year and collected a winner's medal in the 1992 FA Cup Final as Liverpool triumphed 2–0 against Sunderland and was named as the man of the match having set up the winner for Michael Thomas[14] despite being the youngest player on the pitch. He also featured heavily in their run to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. His performances saw McManaman described by Ian Rush as the most promising young player at Liverpool.[14]

Success and fame[edit]

Although McManaman had a couple of quieter seasons with the advent of the Premier League, in which Liverpool initially struggled, he continued to develop a reputation as one of English football's two best emerging young wingers alongside Ryan Giggs of Manchester United.[7] A BBC article described the pair as able to "embarrass defences with their mazy runs, which too often lack the finishing touch they deserve".[16][17]

In 1993–94, McManaman showed fine form with two goals against Swindon Town and some assists including a spectacular run and assist against Tottenham Hotspur. However this form faltered following a confidence drop after an incident with Bruce Grobbelaar towards the end of a Merseyside derby, when the players exchanged blows after Grobelaar lambasted McManaman for a poor clearance which led to a goal being conceded (an incident later named as one of the top five bust ups between teammates in Premier League history).[18]

In 1994–95, McManaman won the first of his 37 caps for the senior England side, although it would be a while longer before he became a regular member of the national side. He also signed a new million pound contract, and was given a central, freer role by new manager Roy Evans, who wanted to utilise McManaman's natural running and dribbling ability to drift all over the park. It proved a successful decision as McManaman began mesmerising defences with runs that were later to become hallmarks of the Liverpool side of the 1990s. 1994-95 also proved to be a turning point for Liverpool after the lack of success during the previous two seasons. That season, he collected a League Cup winner's medal after scoring twice in his side's 2–1 win over Bolton Wanderers; such was his performance that fans named it "The McManaman Final".[19] For his second Wembley final appearance in succession he was awarded man of the match, earning the Alan Hardaker Trophy and a tribute from guest of honour, celebrated veteran winger Sir Stanley Matthews, who exclaimed after the final, "He reminds me of me when I was playing ...[20] I wish there are more dribblers like him."[21]

By the end of 1995–96, McManaman was top of the Premier League goal assists chart with 25 assists over the season,[22] including assists and top ratings in a match against Newcastle voted the best of the decade in the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards.[23][24] By now, McManaman was ranked as one of the finest midfielders in England and had developed a strong reputation on the European stage following UEFA Euro 1996,[25] earning praise from many at the time including Kevin Keegan, who said "there are few finer sights in world football than the sight of Steve McManaman running down the length of the pitch".[26]

McManaman had also been noted for his versatility in his free role, switching from right to left wings, and his ability to play in central midfield, behind the front pair, or as a forward, with many notable managers including then Ajax coach Louis van Gaal, describing it as a role few could pull off the way McManaman had.[27] McManaman was credited for making the free role that manager Evans gave him work[28], with the result being that Liverpool were playing some of the most aesthetically pleasing attacking football at the time in England.[29] McManaman was also said to have been one of only a handful of so-called "talismanic" players along with Eric Cantona and Gianfranco Zola in the league at the time believed to have the charisma to lift supporters from their seats each time they got the ball.[30] Managers would deploy a man-marker specifically to follow him for an entire game,[31] with Gianfranco Zola noting that McManaman was the player the Italian national players monitored the most.[32] Howard Wilkinson said McManaman was "virtually unstoppable" at times,[33] while then Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, was quoted as saying that "everyone in the Premiership knows that if you stop McManaman, you stop Liverpool".[34][35][36] According to interviews on an ITV documentary titled The Alex Ferguson Story (1998), Peter Schmeichel and Paul Ince both stated that Sir Alex Ferguson was also tactically fixated on stopping McManaman each time Manchester United played Liverpool[37], with Schmeichel saying Ferguson was so concerned about stopping McManaman dictating the play; it became "Groundhog Team Talk": "We’ve heard it every time we’re playing Liverpool – McManaman’s doing this … We know that,” said Schmeichel, while Ince added: "We (Manchester United) lost the league (title in 1994-95) at Anfield by not listening to instructions about McManaman..."[38]

Roy Evans, attempting to diminish the attention on marking McManaman, stated, "I would hate to think we are no more than a one-man team."[39] German coach Berti Vogts named McManaman as one of only three Premiership players in his select European XI Team.[40]

"Spice Boys"[edit]

However, things started to turn sour for McManaman and some of his teammates. As their fame increased, tabloid newspaper stories of lad culture excesses emerged and this, fused with underachievement on the pitch, brought criticism in the media. Defeat to Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in three title races (from 1995-96 through 1996-97) including the 1996 FA Cup final, a game where the Liverpool team arrived to inspect the pitch wearing cream coloured Armani suits intensified the criticism.[41] McManaman and other teammates were reported to have cashed in on their newfound fame as stars of the nascent Premier League, to live a high life involving groupies, clubbing and other "high jinks". Modelling contracts and deals with fashion labels like Top Man, Hugo Boss and Armani culminated in their collective nickname, the "Spice Boys".[42] The situation was further aggravated by stories of McManaman and Robbie Fowler's lifestyles off the pitch following an interview with the magazine Loaded, which depicted the duo as hedonists and scally characters, as well as stories about McManaman and Fowler's lack of decorum and disruptive influence in the dressing room.[29] McManaman responded by joining The Times to write a weekly column, becoming the first footballer of his generation to do so.[43]

McManaman was also criticised for scoring too few goals, although he did make up for this with a formidable rate of assists for the likes of Fowler and later Michael Owen, with Owen saying that "Liverpool at the time was built around McManaman"[44] and was an average team whenever McManaman was not on form.[45] The few goals that McManaman did score tended to be spectacular or memorable – most notably an injury time solo goal against Celtic in the UEFA Cup, when McManaman scored after a 75-yard dribble. Other outstanding goals during his Liverpool career included goals against Aston Villa, Newcastle United and scoring the winner in a match against Arsenal with a stunning volley, after which he won a PFA Player of the Month award in December 1997.[46]

Contract wrangles[edit]

In August 1997, Liverpool, having been unable to agree a new contract with McManaman and fearing that the player might leave on a Bosman free transfer, finally accepted a £12 million bid for the player from Barcelona[47][48]; Barcelona had previously tried (and failed) to sign McManaman twice before (after the 1996 Fa Cup Final and after Euro 96)[49]. The deal subsequently fell apart amidst recriminations about the player's remuneration demands and Barcelona's motives for the bid, being in negotiation with Brazilian superstar Rivaldo at the same time and snubbing McManaman when he travelled to Spain to meet them.[47][50] By the end of the saga, the whole fiasco seemed to be a non-affair, with Barcelona signing Rivaldo after Sir Bobby Robson changed his mind (he had earlier told LFC vice-chairman Peter Robinson that he wanted the player)[51] and intervened and told Louis van Gaal that he decided McManaman was a cosmetic player who would not score 18 goals a season for Barcelona,[52] while McManaman himself, while expressing that he was surprised Liverpool were willing to sell him in the first place[53], stated that he had no desire to leave Liverpool and with two years left on his contract was simply not in any rush to sign a new one.[54] A subsequent bid of £11 million from Juventus in November of the same year was rejected by both club and player.[55][56] In early 1998, Barcelona came back with another bid for McManaman [57], and former Deportivo La Coruna coach Augusto César Lendoiro later added that Barcelona did not actually want to sign his former player Rivaldo, and that they wanted McManaman, and put it down to a "coincidence" that they pulled out and opted for Rivaldo instead[58], with it being notable that the very fact that Barcelona came back again in 1998 (after having already signed Rivaldo five months earlier) was evidence of that point. Nonetheless, McManaman and Liverpool turned them down once and for all for the last time.[59]

McManaman was named Liverpool captain at the start of the 1998–99 season,[1][10] but contract negotiations continued to flounder as the club could not match the sums available to McManaman if he left as a free agent at the end of the campaign.[60] Having been overlooked by Glenn Hoddle for the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad in an underachieving Liverpool side,[61] denounced in the English media as being greedy and bolstered by advice from the likes of fellow professionals Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, David Platt and Chris Waddle,[62] McManaman publicly announced his desire to play abroad.[63]

Numerous European clubs circled the soon-to-be free agent, with Real Madrid quickly being seen as his most likely destination.[64] In January 1999, it was reported that McManaman was talking to Real with the player reportedly offered £60,000 a week and nearly £2 million as a signing on fee.[65] On 30 January, McManaman passed a medical and signed an official pre-contract with the club which would make him the best paid British footballer to date.[66][67] He declined to pose in a Real Madrid shirt at the contract signing event, out of respect for Liverpool's fans. McManaman later responded to those who nicknamed him "Greedy Macca" during his drawn-out move to Madrid [68], saying: "It's not all about money - it's not about being greedy," he said. "I was accused of being greedy, but really that was a bit unfair. I was at Liverpool for 11 years and when I signed as a professional at 18 or 19 I was on pounds 225-a-week...The true story never came out. Even when I left Liverpool in my final season I was still the worst paid of the senior players...I was on pounds 6,000 a week, which I know is a lot of money but most of the other players were on a lot more...I got a big-money move to Real but in a way I earned it because I spent so many years at Liverpool...I loved Liverpool but I always dreamed of playing for a top European club, even when I was a kid kicking a ball in the street. It was Real Madrid for me, or Barcelona or Juventus or Milan."

McManaman's image of being a contract rebel and mercenary at the time was also exacerbated by his involvement in a year-long dispute between 1997 and 1998 with Umbro, his football boot sponsor. Umbro sued him for breach of contract for knowingly wearing Reebok branded boots in contravention of the deal, and deliberately "blacking out" their logo on his boots in protest.[69] McManaman argued that his contract was unenforceable and an unlawful restraint of trade.[70] McManaman claimed that he was being exploited. He hired the services of agent Simon Fuller to help free him from the sponsorship contract.[71] The court initially ordered McManaman to fulfil his contract, plus an undertaking to pay Umbro's legal costs for launching contempt of court proceedings against him in 1997, which McManaman accepted and apologised for.[72] A year on, however, McManaman continued to dishonour the deal.[73] He finally won an out-of-court settlement in October 1998, freeing him to negotiate with other companies for what he regarded as remuneration appropriate to his status.[74] The case, in addition to his Liverpool contract wrangles saw the media describe McManaman as the "star performer in his own soap",[75] though McManaman's Liverpool manager Roy Evans defended the player, stating, "Macca is so laid-back you would never know he was hurting inside. But he has been. Some of the criticisms have been so unfair. Typical of Macca, he's responded magnificently."[75]


Having signed the pre-contract with Real Madrid, McManaman still had five months left on his contract at Liverpool. New manager Gérard Houllier, who had replaced Evans as full coach following the failure of their joint-managerial role, was widely believed to want to get rid of the "Spice Boys" mentality and cavalier attitudes at the club[76] having told many players they were surplus to requirements (including Jason McAteer, Phil Babb, Rob Jones, Stig Bjornebye and Paul Ince). While stating that he would have preferred that the player stayed, he said that the club had to respect McManaman's decision to exercise his right to leave at the end of his contract. Houllier said, "It wasn't unexpected. Steve had always maintained that he wanted to move abroad and I have to respect that ... Emotionally we will miss him because he's a Liverpool lad, and needless to say as a player you can't fault him because he has immense ability ... I will have to replace him, it's my job to go out and find another Steve McManaman."[77]

In McManaman's final games for the club in the second half of the 1998–99 season, he began turning in mixed performances, with the media accusing him of playing out his final season in a "desultory manner".[78] His form dipped at times, arguably due to a combination of injuries, being restricted to substitute appearances (as Houllier wanted to cut the side's dependency on his gameplay and replace him[2]), and loss of confidence in certain games where even the home fans turned against him over the contract debacle, with some labelling him a "traitor" and a Judas figure.[79] McManaman told the media after one such game where he became victim of the "boo boys", saying, "That's understandable, when I came off the other day I knew the reaction there was going to be. But I think if they put themselves in the same predicament, and the fact that I have been at Liverpool for 12 years and that I would like to test myself in a foreign country, that's understandable."[80]

McManaman also suffered personal tragedy when his mother Irene, died aged 50 after a long battle against cancer.[81]

The combination of these factors meant McManaman suffered a loss of form, but, McManaman managed to rally and pick up his play right at the end of that last campaign. McManaman scored a crucial goal away at Blackburn Rovers, set up a dramatic injury time equaliser with a through-ball for Paul Ince to score in front of the Kop against Manchester United,[82] and scored the winner from outside the area with a half volley to complete the full turn around result against Tottenham Hotspur after trailing 2–0 at half-time.[83] In what was the final match of the season, and what would be McManaman's final match and final contribution on the pitch for the club, McManaman assisted Karl-Heinz Riedle with a goal at the Kop with a trademark right wing run and pull back as Liverpool won 3–0 against Wimbledon, enabling McManaman to end his career at the club to a standing ovation, a lap of honour at Anfield,[84] and a two row squad farewell at the entrance of the players' tunnel.[85]


In spite of the side only winning two trophies during nine seasons in the Liverpool first team, McManaman's achievements at the club were exceptional for a player in a side often labelled negatively. McManaman finished alongside Nick Barmby as joint runner up to Ryan Giggs in the PFA Young Player of the Year awards in 1993,[86] was named in the PFA Team of the Year for 1996–97[87] and also made the five man shortlist for PFA Player of the Year for three seasons from 1995–96 to 1997–98, with the PFA website describing him as one of the most gifted players of his generation.[7]

For a time, McManaman held the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances as an ever-present at Liverpool for four seasons including a club record for most appearances, and at the time of leaving the Premiership had the second highest ratio of Premier League assists per game, with 112 assists in 272 appearances,[88] with a total of 142 assists for the club;[89][90] an average of one assist per two-and-a-half games. As of 2011–12, McManaman holds the 14th position on the Premiership's All Time Assists charts.[91] Until 2011, McManaman held the record for greatest number of assists in Liverpool history, ahead of Steven Gerrard, who has since overtaken him.[92] McManaman is also ranked fifth on the Premier League all-time assists charts for number of games it took to hit 100 assists, and also in terms of being the fifth youngest player to hit 100 assists in Premier League history, with only Thierry Henry, Cesc Fàbregas, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham above him on the list.[93]

On 5 September 2006, Steve McManaman was named #22 in the official Liverpool website's "100 Players Who Shook The Kop" list,[94] in which Jamie Carragher described McManaman as "the best midfield player in the country for three or four years" running.[10] Both Rob Jones[95] and Robbie Fowler gave two interviews in 2012–13 in which they stated McManaman was the greatest player they ever played alongside,[96] with Fowler saying, "I've played with many, many great players. Paul Gascoigne was fantastic and I could sit here all day and talk about Liverpool players – John Barnes, Ian Rush, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan and Steven Gerrard, who is an unbelievable player. He would probably be my number two. The best player I've ever played with is Steve McManaman ... he really was that good."[97] In 2013, McManaman was named #20 in the official Liverpool website's second "100 Players Who Shook the Kop" list, rising up by two positions.

When Mark Lawrenson and Jim Beglin named McManaman in their team of the 1990s, they said that most managers in the league used the same tactic of marking McManaman to stop Liverpool and whilst it was a tremendous compliment to McManaman,[98] the opposition could stop Liverpool because the tactical system of 3–5–2 or 3–4–1–2 was too dependent on McManaman and would fail if McManaman was off form, or if the team was not complemented by a quality defence (players who could play both wingback and centre half to cope with onslaughts), or the presence of a steely defensive midfielder, which was what happened with the team of that time. Nevertheless, McManaman was voted in on the official Liverpool FC website as the club's midfielder of the 1990s,[99] was named by Ruud Gullit as one of his top two players from the entire Premier League era,[100] and despite Liverpool fans' disappointment over the nature of how McManaman conducted his departure, it is believed that many fans still regard McManaman (along with Fowler) as the two players who carried Liverpool through the 1990s.[101][102]

In 2018, Sky Sports named McManaman and Fowler the third greatest goals-assists partnership in the Premier League era, just behind Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, Teddy Sheringham and Darren Anderton and just ahead of Robert Pires and Henry. [103]

In 2012, as part of the FA Premier League 20 Seasons Awards, Steve McManaman was named on the shortlist for the award of best right midfielder,[104] which was eventually won by Cristiano Ronaldo.[105]

Real Madrid[edit]

Early success[edit]

On 1 July 1999, after 364 appearances and 66 goals for Liverpool, McManaman transferred to Real Madrid as Guus Hiddink's last signing[106] (before being sacked, and while the club was under president Lorenzo Sanz).[107] Before McManaman arrived, the club was described as undergoing a management and debt crisis and Raúl told the press, "The dressing room is a cesspit of lies, treachery and whispers ... I feel sorry for new players like Steve McManaman coming into the club. If McManaman thinks he is coming to one of the world's top clubs then he has made a big mistake."[108]

According to The Independent, "as Steve McManaman was unveiled at a press conference at the Bernabeu stadium, a mile up the road Clarence Seedorf was explaining his part in a dressing-room altercation with Fernando Hierro...The Madrid newspapers had carried a word- by-word and blow-by-blow account of the spat that morning. Pitched unwittingly into the mayhem, McManaman must feel as if he has left the Spice Boys for Oasis."[109] The club had appointed John Toshack as its new coach and had already been forced to sell key players like Predrag Mijatović, Davor Šuker and Christian Panucci due to mounting debt, while Seedorf was later released shortly after McManaman arrived. [110][111]

McManaman's arrival saw him become only the second English player to ever play for the club, after Laurie Cunningham had played for them in the 1980s. He became the first ever player from the Premier League to move to play for Madrid[112] and was also the most high-profile English footballer to move to Spanish football since Gary Lineker had moved to Barcelona from Everton in 1986. Thereafter, he proved an instant hit with the fans at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium after scoring three times and creating several goals in his first few games for Los Merengues.[113]

McManaman made his debut for Madrid on 22 August 1999 in the 2–1 La Liga win over Mallorca at the Son Moix stadium, Mallorca, where he assisted Fernando Morientes in scoring the injury time winner. He scored his first goal for the club a week later on his home debut on 29 August in a 4–1 thumping of Numancia at the Santiago Bernabéu.

In December 1999 to January 2000, McManaman and the Madrid team took part in the controversial inaugural FIFA Club World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, where McManaman missed an injury time chance to win the game, and then the penalty kick against Necaxa that would have sent Madrid into third place.[114] McManaman and the team then returned to Spain and established themselves as the side that went all the way to the 2000 Champions League final under new coach Vicente del Bosque, who had replaced John Toshack in November. McManaman's form in the buildup saw him receive several man of the match awards, forming a strong midfield partnership with Fernando Redondo,[115] as Madrid beat holders Manchester United and Bayern Munich to reach the final.[116] It was at this Champions League final (played at the Stade de France, Paris) that McManaman experienced his finest hour as a player, scoring a spectacular volley in a 3–0 victory over Valencia. His performance on this greatest of club football stages saw him hailed the man of the match by the English press,[117][118] a view endorsed by his Madrid teammate Iván Helguera,[119] and even Sir Alex Ferguson, who added: "I thought McManaman was excellent...there is no question he was man of the match...He was a threat all night and gave Real great penetration from midfield. The boy has always been blessed with marvellous stamina and he has the confidence to go past players."[120] McManaman's part in Madrid's eighth European Cup win also saw him become the first English player ever to win Europe's premier club competition with a foreign club.

2000–01 season[edit]

Despite the Champions League final performance and having established himself as a valuable player in his first year in Madrid, the arrival of a new club president in Florentino Pérez, closely followed by former Barcelona superstar midfielder Luís Figo in a club record transfer, saw the club forced to sell several key players to reduce debt. Fernando Redondo, Nicolas Anelka, Christian Karembeu and McManaman were suddenly told they were surplus to requirements before the start of the 2000–01 season and were sold.[121] When McManaman refused to leave unlike the others, manager Vicente del Bosque told McManaman that he had "little chance of playing this year",[122] and in case he did not understand his position, the club also declined to give him a squad number for the forthcoming season.[123] With the club already in debt, and having just spent another £37 million on Figo, the board were keen to cash in on McManaman and remove his $4.5 million salary from the wage bill.[123] McManaman, however, with an iron-clad contract until 2004, declined to leave and instead stated his determination to win back his place in the team.[119]

Real Madrid subsequently accepted first an £11 million bid from Middlesbrough and then a £12 million bid for McManaman from Chelsea[124] that included the exchange of Tore André Flo, in the summer of 2000, both of which the player rejected. A Sky Sports report in August 2000 also stated that eight other clubs were racing for his signature at the time, including Manchester United, Parma and Fiorentina,[125] but McManaman remained adamant even as Sir Alex Ferguson also declared his admiration for McManaman by arranging a contingent to convince him to sign[126] but McManaman said he wanted to succeed in Spain. His stance was rewarded when Real relented after a Spanish poll in El Mundo showed 90% of the fans demanded the club keep McManaman, while Míchel Salgado complained to the management about the way McManaman was treated after McManaman turned down yet again, another transfer attempt, this time to Lazio, who came in with an £8 million offer.[127][128] Real's change toward McManaman began when Del Bosque gave him his first appearance of the 2000–01 season as a substitute in a 3–3 draw against Málaga in September.[129] McManaman reportedly won over the manager by October, and managed to feature in two thirds of the club's matches, becoming a first team regular for the remainder of the campaign- holding the unique distinction of being described as the only top class football player from England playing overseas at the time.[130] McManaman shone in this second season as Madrid advanced all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League (only to lose to eventual winners Bayern Munich), and won their 28th La Liga crown by a seven-point margin over the previous season's champions, Deportivo de La Coruña; the club's first La Liga title in four years,[113], with McManaman making 42 appearances in all competitions that year despite missing the first two months of the season.[131]

Galácticos policy[edit]

McManaman increasingly saw his playing time reduced each year, as the club initiated their now well known Galáctico policy, with world class names like Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane, and Ronaldo arriving each year and standing above him in the pecking order. At the time, however, McManaman was known for his dogged determination to stay positive for the club's cause, even if it meant he had less playing time. In 2002, McManaman also turned down a transfer to Internazionale at the time when he was made available for exchange as part of Ronaldo's signing.[132] It was widely reported in the Spanish media that McManaman's resilience to the team won the respect of his fellow professionals like Raúl, Zidane, Guti, Iván Helguera and his two best friends and golf buddies at the club, Figo and Ronaldo,[133] who backed him publicly on several occasions in press interviews.[134] McManaman was also twice voted as the Real Madrid supporters' favourite player at the club during his tenure,[135][136] who adored him for his workrate,[137] and where the Spanish media would rave about him regarding anything from his love of the Madrid lifestyle, his willingness to learn the language and immerse into their culture,[138] to his home in La Moraleja, or even his androgynous resemblance to Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman,[139][140] all of which, curiously resulted in bolstering his "affable and amiable" image as the darling of the team at that time. According to El País, in 2001, fans saluted him with their 'white handkerchiefs' (as a terrace favourite) after he acrobatically scored a 'wonder goal' (an incredible long-range high volley) against Real Oviedo that year.[141]

McManaman also forced himself to reinvent his game, and transform himself with a versatility that enabled him to play utility roles in the side, thus helping him shake off a derogatory nickname he was initially given by the Spanish press, "El Cartero" ("the postman"), the implication being that though he could dribble long distances, he seemed to collect the ball and deliver it who knows where, in the manner of the Spanish postal service.[142] It was widely regarded as a credit to McManaman that he managed to constantly reinvent himself to be effective and useful in a squad that was widely regarded at the time as the "best team in the world" under the Galácticos policy.

Yet the policy had its detractors, and according to certain critics in the Spanish press, McManaman and several other players became "victims" as the policy was based more on marketing and revenue generation, and sometimes meant players were picked not according to form, but because of their money-making potential off the pitch. To his credit, McManaman never spoke ill of the Galáctico policy's effects on him during his tenure, only critiquing the policy and ultimately describing it in his autobiography El Macca (a book that was shortlisted as the William Hill Sports Book of the Year),[143] in 2004 as the "Disneyfication of Real Madrid" upon his departure from the club; a piece of foresight that proved telling for the future as the club never reached its heights in the period ensuing with the policy, and with the term becoming somewhat pejorative to this day.

Second Champions League[edit]

Eventually, the Board, including Florentino Pérez, relented, declaring that a "man like that would always have a place in my club", adding that "McManaman is in now in the team because his behaviour has been in accordance with the true values of the club".[144] Towards the end of the 2001-02 season, former Madrid legend Emilio Butragueño also added: "McManaman is a gentleman, an excellent player and very popular."[145]Johan Cruyff, meanwhile, described McManaman at the time as the most useful player in the Galácticos because he was "everyone's best partner on the pitch".[146] A further honour was also extended on the pitch by the club in December 2002, whereas part of Madrid's Centenary Celebrations, McManaman was made the first Englishman to captain Real Madrid in a game against a FIFA World XI, to the applause of the ultras, with whom he was a cult favourite.[147] Arguably his second greatest moment in the white of Madrid also took place that year, in the 2002 UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on 23 April 2002. In this match of monumental proportions, due to El Clásico being a massive game in its own right, but also the fact that it was a Champions League semi-final, McManaman appeared as a second-half substitute to score a critical goal in second half injury time to secure a 2–0 first-leg advantage, chipping over goalkeeper Roberto Bonano after being played in by Flávio Conceição, after Zidane had scored the first goal on 55 minutes. After the game Jorge Valdano added: ""McManaman? McManaman is connected to everybody. A football match is a game of little societies and McManaman is a member of them all."[148] This notable victory, Real's first at the Camp Nou since 1993, helped secure their place in the final of the 2002 Champions League at Hampden Park, Glasgow, where he came on as a replacement for Figo – and thereby ensuring his second Champions League winners' medal, after Madrid secured a 2–1 victory over German team Bayer Leverkusen.[113]

Final season[edit]

McManaman was used as a late substitute for games at the start of the campaign and after scoring a goal and assisting in several of new signing Ronaldo's goals,[citation needed] he was given surprise starts. In one of his starts, he scored a brace against AEK Athens in the Champions League. McManaman also started in a famous game in 2003, where Madrid were beaten 4–3 at Old Trafford against Manchester United in the Champions' League, even as Ronaldo hit a hat-trick.[149] Nonetheless, after only playing 21 games of which he started only nine times, and making a meagre 15 appearances in La Liga, questions constantly arose throughout the season about McManaman's ability and reasons for staying in Spain considering his diminished role, lack of first team action and international attention. Suggestions that McManaman had "sold out" for money and had grown indifferent and lackadaisical to his football were rampant in the British Press, though the media were also described as suffering from "a selective media amnesia over McManaman's time in Spain".[150] Nonetheless, McManaman managed to pick up a second La Liga medal for the year, and was in the squad that won the Intercontinental Cup in Japan.

At the start of the 2003–04 pre-season, the signing of fellow Englishman David Beckham proved the last straw in eventually forcing McManaman down the pecking order at Real Madrid. McManaman remained with the club for its full pre-season, even after coach Vicente del Bosque was given a shock sacking 24 hours after having won the club's last La liga title,[151] but in the close season, and the arrival of Carlos Queiroz as new coach, McManaman was released by the club after helping Beckham settle in with the language and despite Beckham's pleas to the management for McManaman to remain.[152]

Legacy at Madrid[edit]

Having won eight trophies and having played in 11 cup finals in four years as well as constantly making the semi-finals of the Champions League in each of his four years at the club, McManaman became the most successful English football export to ever play overseas (not just in Spain) in terms of trophies. In addition to honours, according to Forbes magazine in 2001, McManaman was listed as sixth on the list of the highest earning footballers in the world,[153] and is believed to have pocketed anywhere between an estimated €15 million (just under £10,250,000) to £14 million in his four years with Madrid.[154]

In a tribute to McManaman, four years after he left the club, ex-coach Vicente del Bosque told Spanish newspaper AS Marca, that McManaman and Geremi were the two most important players in his squad, because "together they kept the whole team united".[155] Del Bosque added, "I was very happy with Macca. He was a caballero, a gentleman, a stupendous guy; he always had a smile, he never complained, he was great, a leader. He related to everyone very well; he united people. He had a bad time [towards the end] with achilles pain, but every day he trained with the same attitude. He was exemplary ... and a good footballer too, very good. A fantastic player in every sense."[156]

McManaman is also listed as a club legend on the official Real Madrid website, with his legacy being that of being fondly remembered as "The versatile Englishman", and described as one who "in only four seasons, won the hearts of Madrid's followers. The mixture of his gentlemanly nature both on and off the pitch, combined with teamwork and quality made sure that this Englishman was one of the most loved players by the fans...McManaman's natural position was on the right, but during his time at Real Madrid he played in every midfield position. His ability to change position made him a very versatile player."[157]

McManaman also paved the way and influenced other British players to join Madrid in the ensuing years, with players such as Michael Owen saying they asked him for advice before signing with Madrid,[158] and later encouraged Gareth Bale to sign for Madrid a decade later,[159] going so far as to even declare that Bale "needed the Madrid move" on Real's official Twitter account.[160] When Bale signed, McManaman gave Bale advice on how to succeed at Madrid.[161][162][163] Bale would later become the first player to emulate McManaman when he ended up winning the Champions League with Madrid in his first season, something McManaman was delighted with, and expected all along.[164]

McManaman was also listed in Spanish-based British sports reporter Sid Lowe's Real Madrid Team of the Decade for the 2000s.[165]

Manchester City[edit]

In 2003–04, along with teammates Claude Makélélé, Fernando Hierro and later Fernando Morientes, McManaman headed back to the Premier League. Initially reported to be joining Arsenal[166] or Everton,[167] McManaman eventually decided to join long-time admirer Kevin Keegan on 30 August at Manchester City, resulting in a reunion with several ex-colleagues including Robbie Fowler, Nicolas Anelka, and later, David James, prompting the media to state that Keegan was "reuniting the Spice Boys".[168]

McManaman made his debut on 14 September 2003 in a 4–1 win over Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium, and quickly showed good early form,[169] with the club starting with a run of wins[170] and progressing in the UEFA Cup,[171] with McManaman hailed by Keegan to great hype, but by Christmas that year, results had fallen, the team languished[172] and ended the season, well out of European contention, and McManaman injured again. By 2004–05, McManaman's time at City was ultimately deemed a disappointment and he was increasingly vilified by City fans,[173] who later jeered him off the pitch following a draw with Norwich City.[174] Fans also nicknamed him "McMoneyman" pejoratively in reference to old quibs about his reasons for leaving Liverpool, staying in Spain and picking City.[175]

On the pitch, a combination of niggling injuries and the rise of an in-form and up-and-coming Shaun Wright-Phillips saw him lose his preferred right midfield position. When McManaman did play, he failed to rediscover his old form and speed, only occasionally demonstrating the ability he had shown in his earlier career.[176] Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that in order to find a role at Madrid he had changed his playing style, cutting down on the flair play (as Madrid had a surfeit of flair players) and instead focusing on being a holding player and making short, simple passes of the ball in central midfield, where he was known for his one touch passing and ability to never give the ball away.[113] Youngsters Wright-Phillips, Joey Barton, Stephen Ireland and Lee Croft cited McManaman as a major motivating influence on them.[177] McManaman was criticised by Sir Alex Ferguson after an FA Cup Manchester derby at Old Trafford for "intimidating Gary Neville" to get him sent off in a headbutt incident in 2004, adding a derogatory comment that he had no idea what other role McManaman had in the game [and possibly for Manchester City].[178]

Off the field at City, Fowler and McManaman were caught up in a sex scandal[179] that appeared in the News of the World following a failed attempt by the pair to gain an injunction to prevent publication, costing them £50,000 in addition to making the case look like an invariable admission of guilt.[180] The court case came fast on the heels of football's "roasting" and rape allegations at Chelsea earlier that year[181] and served only to exacerbate their situations and affected their reputations off and on the pitch at the club, while an incident involving Fowler and McManaman and three other players deliberately missing the team bus at Leicester also did not go down well with the fans, manager and media.[182]

In 2004, McManaman was linked to the MetroStars, who confirmed that the club were interested in him. However they eventually decided to relinquish their bid stating that "MLS clubs were keen to lose the reputation that top stars only arrive to play in America for a final swansong in their careers".[183] McManaman played for City for only two seasons and following Kevin Keegan's resignation in March 2005, never played another game for the club. Keegan's replacement, Stuart Pearce, released McManaman on a free transfer on 20 May.[184]

Though McManaman failed to score a single goal for City, his earlier successes enabled him to end his career across all his three clubs with a total of 560 appearances, scoring 80 goals,[185] and with 182 assists, 142 of those coming in his time at Liverpool.[186]

International career[edit]

For England, McManaman would forever remain an enigma at international level. England coaches, except for Venables and Keegan, utilised McManaman's talents sparingly. McManaman was capped 37 times for England scoring three goals, and with the side only losing three times in the games that he played;[187] two of them significant results: the infamous UEFA Euro 1996 penalty shootout defeat to Germany at Wembley in 1996, and the opening day defeat against Portugal at Euro 2000.

Euro 2000, held in the Netherlands and Belgium, was McManaman's last major tournament for England, despite backing from the press, fans and teammates, including Zinedine Zidane.[188]

England U21[edit]

McManaman made history by becoming the first player without first team experience to play for the England under-21 team, being handed a debut call-up by Lawrie McMenemy against Wales at Tranmere in October 1990, two months before he debuted for the Liverpool first-team, famously quoting in the process that he had seen "more fat on a chip" in reference to McManaman's skinny physique.[7] In February 1993, McManaman captained the under-21 team for the first time against San Marino and scored the last goal in a convincing 6–0 win.

Terry Venables and Euro 96[edit]

Terry Venables gave McManaman his full debut on 16 November 1994 in an international friendly with Nigeria at Wembley, McManaman coming on as a replacement for Newcastle United's Robert Lee. By 1995, McManaman was accused of struggling to repeat his fine club form with his country, drawing comparisons to his mentor at Liverpool, John Barnes. However, he managed to string together a series of splendid match winning performances for his country at Euro 96, earning praise from even Pelé, who according to the BBC touted him as the tournament's best player[189] and said he was the player he "was most impressed" by[190] going on to say that he was "one of the best players in Europe" and could be the "best in the world",[187][191]tags that McManaman later admitted that he could not live up to. Together with teammates David Seaman and Alan Shearer, McManaman was also listed in the official Team of the Tournament, as well as shortlisted behind eventual winner, Jürgen Klinsmann, for the Most Valuable Player award.[192]

Glenn Hoddle and World Cup 98[edit]

McManaman, however, failed to win over new England coach Glenn Hoddle despite being in excellent club form in the years Hoddle was in charge,[193] raising questions about either his effort, his attitude, or his relationship with the manager, with some sections of the British press even lobbying Hoddle to pick McManaman. Hoddle stated in interviews that he wanted McManaman to take up the licence to be the bridge between David Beckham and Paul Gascoigne,[194] and often spoke highly of McManaman's ability, but noted that McManaman's best position was "floating" dangerously and it was hard to fit him into a system to suit the team[195] and so he often selected Paul Merson and the rising Beckham instead. When McManaman (and Fowler) opted out of Le Tournoi in 1997 to choose to undergo non-urgent medical operations ahead of international duty, it was noted that this reportedly lost them their team spots as Hoddle though angered at losing them, found a winning team in their absence, and this made it even harder for McManaman to regain his place later.[196] McManaman made a total of four appearances under Hoddle,[197] and only one appearance at the 1998 World Cup against Colombia, as a substitute for Paul Scholes.

When interviewed by FourFourTwo magazine, McManaman stated, "I think I probably least enjoyed my time when Glenn Hoddle was the manager. But I wouldn't say he was necessarily the worst. He had his ways of training and ways of acting and all managers have different ways of doing things; it's the same with club managers. Sometimes when you join up with England and you don't play as often as you did under a certain other manager – then you'll think it's terrible. I loved going to play with England. For instance, I did get to go to the World Cup even though I only played for 17 minutes. That kind of experience leaves an indelible mark on your mind. So I don't really think of it in terms of "worst"; but going to the World Cup and not playing much was a big thing for me, really, and that was under Glenn, of course."[198] Hoddle also notably arranged for McManaman to meet a disabled fan (and thus fulfill his lifelong wish of meeting McManaman) while the fan was on the verge of death, in 1997, to great media acclaim,[199] though the story only broke a year after Hoddle had been sacked from the England job for alleged disparaging comments about disabled people.

Kevin Keegan and Euro 2000[edit]

Kevin Keegan quickly reinstated McManaman to the England starting lineup after coming on the job. John Barnes spoke about McManaman in his autobiography in 1999 as "probably the greatest individual talent in English football and has to be presented the correct way",[200] and Keegan gave several interviews in 1999 backing up that point; adding that he was finding out how best to utilise McManaman. Keegan eventually decided on deploying McManaman on the left wing on several occasions in 1999[201] and under Keegan, McManaman finally broke his international goal scoring duck when he scored twice on 4 September 1999 in the 6–0 Euro 2000 qualifier victory over Luxembourg, again, at Wembley. Keegan took McManaman's new career at Madrid to reinstate his confidence in him, and handed him a coveted free role ahead of Euro 2000,[202] stating that "in the past we compromised him ... but [following McManaman's UEFA Champions League success], we said 'we'll fit in with you, you've earned that chance'.[203][204] Unfortunately, McManaman's free role for England was shortlived as he played only once in Euro 2000, scoring (the last of his three England goals) in a famous opening game against Portugal, where McManaman put England 2–0 ahead, only for it to end because McManaman got injured after scoring, forcing a tactical switch.[205] McManaman never played for Keegan again as Keegan left the England job two months later in October 2000.

Post-2001 omission[edit]

The last of McManaman's caps came in 2001 when Sven-Göran Eriksson utilised him for his first games in the 2002 World Cup qualifiers, including a game back at Anfield against Finland – where McManaman set up David Beckham's winner[206]– but then apparently left a message on McManaman's answering machine to inform him that he was not going to be in the final World Cup squad in early 2002.[207] Despite the pleas of McManaman's Real Madrid team mates Zidane[208] and Fernando Hierro for McManaman's case, McManaman said he never ever heard from or met Eriksson again. Zidane went on to state England had made a mistake, and described McManaman with a rare passion as one of the highest quality players he ever played with: "I was surprised when McManaman was left out of the last England squad. I couldn't believe they would ignore a player of his quality. Now people are talking about the fact that maybe he will get his chance because David Beckham is injured. But McManaman is far better than just being a replacement for Beckham. McManaman should be in the starting line-up anyway."[209] Support for McManaman also came before the 2002 World Cup in the British media, after Sky Sports published an article based on OPTA statistics, revealing that despite a poor goalscoring record, McManaman had in fact an 88% dribbling completion rate (having embarked on a run every 17 minutes), and an 84% pass completion rate, all three of which were higher by over 15% than any English midfield Premiership player at the time.[210]

By late 2001, however, after coming on as a substitute when England beat Germany 5–1 in the Olympiastadion, McManaman put in a display against Albania of "such apathy" according to The Guardian that the paradox of McManaman was stated as follows: "If McManaman is thought of at all in England now, it is as a man for whom exclusion beckons. Given his status at Real, England's World Cup squad should be comfortably within his grasp but McManaman, befitting someone who patrols the flanks, is drifting towards the periphery of Sven-Goran Eriksson's radar. The question is not whether McManaman, 30 a month ago, has the ability to force his way back into the centre of Eriksson's considerations but whether he has the will. In England's World Cup qualifier against Albania at St James' Park last September, four days after Munich, he made a fleeting appearance of such apparent apathy that even he was taken aback, never mind Eriksson."[211] That performance saw McManaman banished from Eriksson's team,[212] as that was his final game; making just one substitute appearance after that in the critical qualifier against Greece in 2001. Later that year, he did himself no favours by "choosing not to play" in the game against Sweden by calling the FA to have himself dropped from the squad,[213] before assistant coach at the time, Tord Grip "put the knife" in his international career when he said "McManaman has never played well for England".[214] and following that, McManaman was not selected for another England squad.

Critics' and fans' analysis[edit]

McManaman was once described as "England's forgotten man"[215] but was also accused of being apathetic and having a laidback attitude and having a reputation for being a troublemaker, which began after an infamous "dentists' chair" incident before Euro '96,[216] where along with Teddy Sheringham and Gascoigne, McManaman was photographed drinking and accused of causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to a Cathay Pacific first class flight cabin,[217] although this was later revealed to have not been caused by McManaman or Fowler as the whole England team took collective responsibility for Gascoigne's antics[218]. McManaman's reputation was also not aided by the fact that he was also known for being a serial prankster with Fowler,[219] which did nothing to help new coaches' negative opinions about him,[220] with the Spice Boys' image also making it worse, although, colleague Gareth Southgate did say McManaman and Fowler's antics though "silly", helped foster team spirit.[221] In 2004, certain journalists even called for McManaman to be included in the Euro 2004 squad, arguing that McManaman's experience would have been worth his inclusion in the side alone,[170] but to no avail as McManaman himself decided to retire shortly after.

Style of play[edit]

A hard-working, versatile and technically gifted player, McManaman was usually deployed as a winger, or occasionally as a central midfielder; his preferred position, however, was that of a more offensive and creative attacking midfielder, an uncommon position in the Premier League throughout his career. McManaman was a quick, strong, creative, and energetic player, with good dribbling ability, as well as accurate passing and crossing ability with either foot, which allowed him to create chances and provide assists for teammates as a playmaker. He was often criticised, however, for his inability to score many goals, although he would later improve upon this element of his game during his career.[222][223]

Post playing career[edit]

McManaman retired from his playing career after being released by Manchester City in 2005.[224] In early 2006, McManaman nearly came out of retirement to sign for the Hong Kong Rangers, a club owned by an admirer of his football, Carson Yeung, but the deal fell through due to McManaman's recurrent injuries which scuppered his fitness test.[225]

Film and charity appearances; UEFA Ambassador[edit]

In October 2006, McManaman played in a charity match for Liverpool Legends against Celtic Legends.[226]

In late 2006, McManaman joined production for the film, Goal II: Living the Dream, the sequel to Goal!. By the time of release in 2007, McManaman had also become an associate producer of the film,[227] and appears in the film as one of the coaching staff for Kuno Becker's lead character. McManaman was also active in promoting the film with star Anna Friel at its premiere.[228]

In June 2008, McManaman participated in Steve Nash and Claudio Reyna's Showdown in Chinatown, an 8-on-8 charity soccer game at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Nash scored two goals in his team's 8–5 victory, which included McManaman scoring one goal and making five of the goals in a team including Thierry Henry, Robbie Fowler, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, and Phoenix Suns teammates Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa.[229]

In 2010, McManaman became an ambassador for UEFA alongside Christian Karembeu in its Champions League Trophy World Tour, as well as at the Madrid Festival leading up to the 2010 Champions League final at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.[230] McManaman, has also been taking part in several "legends" squads for testimonial matches and fundraisers, most notably, at domestic level with the likes of ex-Liverpool players, but also for the European Association of Former Players (EFPA) along with a host of retired stars like Hristo Stoichkov, Enzo Scifo and Lothar Matthaus.[231] In May 2010, McManaman played for the Real Madrid Veteranos against Milan's Glorie team for charity known as the Corazon Classic, in front of a crowd of 80,000 at the Santiago Bernabéu, and in an all-star game featuring Emilio Butragueño, Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Chendo, Alfonso, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Rui Costa and other world class football stars to a great reception.[232]

In 2011, McManaman joined a number of former star players including Diego Maradona and former teammates Luís Figo and Robbie Fowler in a select World XI to play against Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and his select XI in a match to mark the opening of the new national stadium in the war torn nation's capital of Grozny.[233] The match drew criticism from some commentators and human rights groups due to Kadyrov's alleged human rights abuses.[234][235] McManaman commented "This is not a piece of propaganda for us ... We are not here politically. We are just here to play football."[236] In December 2011, McManaman was also invited to be a part of the United Nations Development Programme Football Squad by ex-teammates Zidane and Ronaldo (ambassadors of the UNDP), to take part in a series of friendly matches to raise funds known as Match Against Poverty.[237]

In 2012, McManaman was officially declared as UEFA's sole ambassador for the 2013 UEFA Champions League Final to be held at Wembley.[4]

In 2015-16, McManaman was nominated by former team mate Raul Gonzalez[238] to take part in the "Shoot for Love" challenge- a competition to raise funds for children suffering with cancer. [239]

In 2018, McManaman was officially named a La Liga ambassador.[240] McManaman spent a month in 2018 travelling around Europe, the USA and Asia, promoting the competition[241]

Corporate work[edit]

In July 2007, McManaman was named executive director of Carson Yeung's Hong Kong-listed company Grandtop International Holdings Ltd, which subsequently took a 29.9% stake in Premier League side Birmingham City. In August 2009, Yeung confirmed that once his proposed take-over of Birmingham City went through, a role at St Andrew's would be given to McManaman, although he did not specify what role that would be,[242] and by 2010, McManaman was appointed as a board director at Birmingham City, where McManaman assured Steve Bruce at the time that he was not part of some scheme to take over his job as coach.[243] On 4 June 2012, it was announced that he had resigned as an executive director of Birmingham International Holdings, the company that owns Birmingham City.[244][245] On 19 September 2012, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange criticised McManaman "... for failing to use best endeavours to procure Birmingham City International Holdings' compliance with the Exchange Listing Rules".[246] The exchange said the company failed to disclose a large deposit it had to make as it was preparing to buy the English football club Birmingham City in 2009. The exchange also said the purchase of the club should have been put to the company's shareholders for their approval, which it was not.

In 2007–08, McManaman also got involved with corporate dealings in Hong Kong with companies like Sure Trace Inc, which was set up by another porn baron and stock market and IT entrepreneur, James MacKay, who transferred two-thirds of the company to him.[247] The company made news for wrong reasons as Sure Trace had made a number of major contract announcements which had not become actual, revenue-generating contracts and was delisted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company then setup True Product ID as a company to conduct technology joint ventures in China and the company was transferred to McManaman. To protect investors, the SEC suspended Sure Trace Security in August 2005, citing the accuracy of public information regarding its technology sales.[248]

Management intentions & Coaching Role[edit]

In January 2009, McManaman gave a press interview where he revealed his intention to go into management. "I'm still thinking of getting back into the game and hopefully I will do my coaching badges at some point this year ... It is going to be hard, though. There seems to be far less jobs available for the younger guys. Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Tony Adams – it seems as if people have got it in for them. It's becoming a bit less attractive ... If I do get back in, I don't want to be a coach ... I want to be a manager, but that's easier said than done ... I want to be able to pick the team, make the decisions and everything that goes with it. That said, I can't do anything without my badges", he told the Liverpool Echo.[249]

In October 2013, it was announced by Brendan Rodgers that McManaman would be taking up a coaching role with Liverpool at the academy to help nurture the club's future talents.[250][251]

Media career[edit]

McManaman first got a taste for media work in 2005 after he became active as a freelance media commentator and pundit, providing analysis to ITV for the 2005 Champions League final, in which he provided the analysis as his old club Liverpool won the trophy. McManaman then went on to take up opportunities for Asia's largest football broadcasters, ESPN Star, in Singapore in 2006, where he worked alongside commentator John Dykes and ex-players such as fellow ex-Liverpool star Steve McMahon.[252]

By 2007, also McManaman became a full-time media pundit, having joined Setanta Sports as a football analyst and, for the 2007–08 season, he was given his own television show -Macca's Monday Night- reflecting on life in the Barclays Premier League.[253] On the show, he played host and was joined by Neil Warnock, the former Sheffield United manager, James Richardson, Emmanuel Petit, Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand. The show was finally axed in favour of "Football Matters", a live late Monday-night discussion show hosted by James Richardson and Rebecca Lowe. Renowned for his direct comments, in one of McManaman's broadcasts in February 2008, McManaman found himself criticised in the Liverpool press and by former Liverpool fans when his comments for Setanta after a Merseyside derby, on the ownership issue concerning debt involving Tom Hicks and George N. Gillett, Jr. at Anfield went down poorly with the supporters.[254]

Since July 2010, having joined commentator Ian Darke and former Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann as well as Dutch International Ruud Gullit on the ESPN coverage team as a commentary analyst for the 2010 World Cup, McManaman has since signed on with the network to be an in-game analyst for Major League Soccer and MLS Cup 2010,[255] the Premier League and even the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup, and has become a permanent co-commentator alongside Ian Darke. In late November 2010 and in May 2011, McManaman was the halftime in-studio analyst alongside Gary Lineker and Trevor Francis for La Liga's El Clásico broadcast on Al Jazeera Sports +3. McManaman and Darke were the main ESPN commentary team for Euro 2012,[256] while McManaman was also a guest on daily panel show, ESPN PressPass (now re-branded as ESPN FC), alongside Steve Nicol, Robbie Mustoe, Shaka Hislop, Robbie Earle and Gabriele Marcotti.[257]

From the 2013–14 season, McManaman joined BT Sport as one of its lead co-commentators for its new Premier League coverage,[258] McManaman is known for his frank yet candid comments that despite tendentiously staying safe and stating the obvious, are always good humoured. He was also known for his flamboyant dress sense – once causing a Twitter stir for turning up to a live broadcast in an Inspector Gadget-like outfit[259]. In 2014, McManaman and Darke partnered each other for one last time as co-commentators exclusively for the United States' ESPN coverage of FIFA World Cup 2014, in which Darke & McManaman famously commentated on the Brazil 1 Germany 7 game; and got plaudits for their incredulous statements, reactions[260] and colourful comments during the game[261]. From the 2014-15 season onward, McManaman then returned home to be permanently based in England and also could be regularly seen as a guest on BT Sport's Champions League coverage, and on shows like "Premier League Tonight"[262]. In 2018, McManaman returned to ESPNFC as a pundit for the first time since 2012, and on June 29th became the only pundit to correctly predict 12 out of the last 14 in the knockout stages of FIFA World Cup 2018[263], getting the semi-finals, final, and ultimate winner exactly correct[264], and prompting a Twitter stir after the end of the competition with several media articles questioning the probability of such a feat; and querying whether this was down to McManaman's expansive football knowledge.[265]

Personal life[edit]

Together with Robbie Fowler, McManaman has invested in several racehorses through a company named The Macca and Growler Partnership, their most prolific horse being Seebald, winner of 2003 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase.[266] In 2013, veteran jockey Tony McCoy named his horse for the Chepstow races, "El Macca" in reference to McManaman.[267] "El Macca" is five years old as of 2018 and is owned by JP McManus[268].

McManaman's grandfather was a bookmaker and his father described the family as having "horseracing in their blood".[269] According to the English FA website, McManaman is a distant relative of Callum McManaman, who plays professional football as a winger at Wigan Athletic [270]

McManaman married his longtime girlfriend, Victoria Edwards, a barrister and law lecturer (who taught at the Complutense University of Madrid[271] during her time in Madrid with McManaman), on 6 June 2002, in Mallorca's Palma Cathedral. Victoria gave birth to their daughters Ella in 2006 and Lara in 2009, and son Lucas James in 2012. The family divides its time between homes in Bay of Palma, London and Cheshire.[272]

Career statistics[edit]

Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National Cup League Cup Europe Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Liverpool 1990–91 First Division 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
1991–92 30 5 8 3 5 3 8 0 51 11
1992–93 Premier League 31 4 1 0 5 2 3 1 40 7
1993–94 30 2 2 0 2 0 0 0 34 2
1994–95 40 7 7 0 8 2 0 0 55 9
1995–96 38 6 7 2 4 1 4 1 53 10
1996–97 37 7 2 0 4 2 8 1 51 10
1997–98 36 11 1 0 5 0 4 1 46 12
1998–99 28 4 0 0 0 0 3 1 31 5
Liverpool Total 272 46 29 5 33 10 30 5 364 66
Real Madrid 1999–2000 La Liga 30 3 10 0 0 0 7 1 47 4
2000–01 26 2 6 0 0 0 10 0 42 2
2001–02 23 2 2 0 0 0 13 2 38 4
2002–03 15 1 4 1 0 0 6 2 25 4
Real Madrid Total 94 8 22 1 0 0 36 5 152 14
Manchester City 2003–04 Premier League 22 0 3 0 1 0 4 0 30 0
2004–05 13 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 14 0
Manchester City Total 35 0 4 0 1 0 4 0 44 0
Career Total 401 54 52 6 37 10 70 10 560 80



Year Apps Goals
1994 1 0
1995 6 0
1996 9 0
1997 3 0
1998 3 0
1999 4 2
2000 5 1
2001 6 0
Total 37 3

International goals[edit]

England score listed first, score column indicates score after each McManaman goal.

# Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 4 September 1999 Wembley Stadium, London, England  Luxembourg 2–0 6–0 UEFA Euro 2000 qualifying
2. 5–0
3. 12 June 2000 Philips Stadion, Eindhoven, Netherlands  Portugal 2–0 2–3 UEFA Euro 2000




Real Madrid


Further reading[edit]

  • McManaman, Steve & Edworthy, Sarah (2003). El Macca: Four Years with Real Madrid. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7434-8920-9.


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External links[edit]