Kevin Keegan – Life, Career & Where He is Now

Kevin Keegan is one of Yorkshire’s most famous footballers. His impressive career throughout the 70’s and 80’s saw him become one of the best and distinctive characters of the era.

After a successful football career, he turned his hand to management where he oversaw five roller coaster years at Newcastle United through the 1990’s and also had a go at the England job. Although most of his success lay outside the boundaries of Yorkshire, he has never forgotten his roots.

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Growing Up

Joseph Kevin Keegan was born on the 14th of February 1951 in Armthorpe, Doncaster at his Aunt Nellie’s house. His aunt’s house was specifically chosen as she was the only one in the family who had electricity which would make it safer for childbirth.

While he was young, Kevin’s Uncle Frank gave him his first football and his father gave him his first football boots. Kevin took his football and his pair of boots to the park where he used his sister’s pushchair as a goal post.

When Kevin left school, he got a job for the local Pegler brass works. Although he loved playing football, he didn’t stand out as a future England International or European Cup winner and had been rejected by both Doncaster Rovers and Coventry City at the age of sixteen.

Despite being rejected, Kevin Keegan was still determined to create a career in football. He worked hard at this game in order to become the player in which he was to be in the future.


Kevin Keegan’s Debut

Eventually after lots of hard work, Kevin was spotted by Scunthorpe United which was then only one of two professional clubs in the old English Fourth Division. He was turning out for the Pegler reserve team at the time and was signed for the Iron instantly in 1967.

As a youth player, it was his job to clean the first team player’s boots, paint the turnstiles and help clean the stadium. Kevin Keegan was known to the Scunthorpe coaching staff for his hard work and willingness to develop his game.

The following year all of his hard work paid off. Kevin made his league debut against Peterborough United and went on to make 120 appearances for Scunthorpe, mainly playing in midfield.

Playing for Liverpool

Kevin Keegan’s performances caught the eye of then Liverpool manager Bill Shankly. Bill was always on the lookout for a bargain from the lower leagues and bought the young Keegan for £35,000 in 1971 something which the boss later described as “robbery with violence”.

The Yorkshire lad made his debut for the Reds against Nottingham Forest. After just twelve minutes, he scored in a 3-1 win which would endear him to Liverpool supporters for many seasons to come.

Under Shankly, Kevin was moved further forward into an attacking midfield role just behind John Toshack. The two would soon become known as “The Dynamic Duo” who destroyed their opponents defences throughout the decade both at home and abroad.

The following season, Kevin Keegan helped the Anfield Club to win the league title and UEFA Cup. He scored a memorable brace in the first leg of the final against the German team Borussia Monchengladbach.

Kevin’s performances for Liverpool soon attracted the attention of England when he scored 22 times in 64 appearances. In November 1972 he made his senior international debut and helped the team to a 1-0 win over Wales.

Clash with Leeds United

Arguably one of the most memorable incidents of Kevin’s playing career was his clash with Leeds United Captain Billy Bremner. At the start of Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure as Leeds United’s boss, both Kevin and Billy were sent off and banned for eleven matches.

Kevin Keegan’s Best Season

The best season for the Yorkshireman in a Liverpool shirt was between 1975 to 1976. He guided the team to another league and European cup double, most notably with a brace against Bruges in the final.

Rise to Fame

Off the field, Kevin Keegan was starting to become quite the celebrity as his status, along with his hair, was continuing to grow. He became the first England player to become the focus of the media’s attention.

Kevin appeared on a game show called “Superstars” where he famously fell off of his bike. He also grew his famous bubble perm earning the nickname “poodle perm” and released a single called “head over heels in love” which charted the top 10 in Germany.

Leaving for Hamburg

In 1977, Kevin Keegan sent Merseyside into a state of shock after he announced that he was leaving the club to sign for Hamburg. The German club seemed to be a surprising choice but the £500,000 transfer fee, which is equivalent to £3,310,094.94 today, was too good to turn down.

After the initial difficulties in settling into the new team, Kevin set about replicating his form for Liverpool at Hamburg. The Yorkshireman abroad helped them win a domestic league title in 1978 earning him the first of his consecutive Ballon d’ors.

The semi had seen Kevin Keegan and his teammates produce one of the best attacking displays in European football. They showed their skills when they overcame a 2-0 first leg deficit to overturn Real Madrid 5-3 on aggregate.

By now, Keegan had already made noises that he wanted to move on and so his Hamburg swansong came against old adversaries Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest in the UEFA Cup final. Unfortunately for Kevin, his team lost 1-0 meaning that his Hamburg career ended in defeat.

Joining Southampton

Despite this, there were still several top European clubs after his signature. Instead Kevin chose the stripes of mid-table Southampton under the management of Lawrie McMenemy and spent two seasons here making 68 appearances.

Moving to Newcastle United

In 1982, Kevin Keegan moved up to the North East to play for Newcastle United. The Magpies were a Second Division club at the time but Kevin helped them win their promotion with 48 goals in 78 appearances.

Debut as England Captain

On the England front, Kevin had a mixed international career. The mid to late 70’s was a fallow period in England’s history when the team failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups in Germany and Argentina respectively.

Kevin Keegan made his debut as England Captain in 1976 and soon forged a great understanding with fellow midfielder Trevor Brooking. The first major tournament he played in was not until 1980 at the European Championships in Italy where they went out in the group stages.

Under the new manager Ron Greenwood, Kevin was officially made captain and England finally qualified for a World Cup for the first time in twelve years. Aged 31, Kevin Keegan was going to play on the biggest stage of all.

Back Injury

Kevin had been suffering from a back injury which had been troubling him in the domestic season when he played for Southampton. Just before the tournament, the Yorkshire football player’s injury was starting to flare up.

Despite this injury, manager Ron Greenwood decided to include him in the squad with a view of him playing the forward for the second round of group games. In those days, the World Cup second round was made up as a group of three teams who had qualified from the previous stage.

Make or Break Game

Keegan’s one and only World Cup appearance famously came in a make or break game against the hosts, Spain. He was brought on as a later substitute and flashed a header just wide of the post.

Keegan’s one and only World Cup appearance famously came in a make or break game against the sports hosts – Spain. Kevin was brought onto the pitch as a late substitute where he flashed a header that ended up being just wide of the post.

If he’d have scored that goal, England would have gone through to the Quarter finals. Kevin Keegan was famously never selected to play for England again and his international career was over after 63 caps and 21 goals.

Announcing His Retirement

Two years later when Kevin was 33 years old, he decided to announce his retirement from the game during the 1983 to 1984 season. He then spent the rest of the 1980’s in Spain playing golf and making the occasional appearance as a football pundit after swearing he would never go into management.

Manager for Newcastle United

Kevin Keegan always knew how to spring a surprise or two during his career. In 1992, eight years after he played his last game for the club, Newcastle United came calling.

By this point, the Toon had fallen out of the top flight once more. They made it known that they were looking for somebody to restore the ailing club back to the big time and immediately set their sights on none other than Kevin Keegan.

Kevin decided to join the club in February 1992. However, he promptly walked out again after the money he was promised to revitalise the squad never showed up and at that point in time there were no transfer windows.

After a short while, the chairman Sir John Hall managed to persuade him to return back to the club. Kevin’s first job was to ensure Newcastle United’s status in the 2nd Division which he managed to achieve.

With the promise of money now in hand, the Keegan era at Newcastle had begun and he splashed out on several new players including £1m on Andy Cole from Bristol City. This new team stormed to the 2nd Division title in May 1993.

Premiership Title

The following years are thought to have been some of the most exciting by Geordie fans. Newcastle United were now challenging the big teams for the newly formed Premiership title.

During Kevin’s management reign for the team, he showed everyone that he wasn’t afraid to splash the cash. This was illustrated when Newcastle United paid a record £15 million to buy Alan Shearer from Blackburn.

In the year of 1996, Newcastle United had opened a 12 point gap at the top of the league over Manchester United. However as the second half of the season played out, the Red Devils caught up with Keegan’s men and Newcastle had a 1-0 defeat at the hands of their title rivals.

By the final weeks of the season, Kevin was beginning to feel the heat. In a now famous interview on Sky Sports, he ranted about Manchester United and comments that had been made by Alex Ferguson about smaller teams trying harder against his side than Newcastle.

As we know, Manchester United won the title yet again that year along with the FA Cup. Kevin and Newcastle United would get their revenge when they demolished Man United 5-0 in October 1996.

Three months later, Kevin Keegan sprung yet another surprise on his team and its fans. His era at Newcastle was over when he resigned suddenly in January 1997.

Managing Fulham

Despite his resignation, this would not be the last we would hear of Kevin Keegan. He returned to manage 2nd Division, now League 1, Fulham that was now rich from the investment of Mohammed Al-Fayed.

Mohammed Al-Fayed’s money along with Keegan’s stewardship would ensure a progression into the 1st Division (Championship) and eventually the big time.

England Manager

By this point, Kevin Keegan had moved onto the biggest footballing job of them all. In 1999 he replaced the disgraced Glenn Hoddle to become manager of the England team.

Kevin finished off the qualification for the European Championships in 2000 with a 2-1 aggregate win over Scotland in the playoffs. After this win, the rollercoaster began.

In the teams first match against Portugal, England was 2-0 up within 17 minutes of the game. However, despite these early wins, celebrations were cut short when Portugal ended up scoring three times ending the game with a 3-2 loss for England.

England’s second game was against Germany where they won 1-0 which brought the team their first competitive win against them since 1966. After their win, they suffered a 3-2 defeat against Romania after failing to hold a 2-1 lead which saw Keegan’s England crash out of the tournament.

More drama soon followed in autumn during a World Cup qualifier against the Germans in October 2000 which also marked the final game at the old Wembley stadium before its demolition. Football fans witnessed what is arguably one of the most bizarre resignations in sporting history.

After a poor 1-0 defeat, Kevin Keegan decided to resign in front of the entire nation during a post-match interview. During this he stated that he would never set foot in the old, or new, Wembley as the England teams manager again.

Managing Manchester City

Kevin’s managing career was not finished yet despite his resignation. In 2001, he was hired by the manager of an ailing Manchester City who were still on their way back up to the big time after a spell in the 2nd Division doldrums.

Similarly with Newcastle and Fulham, Kevin managed to win promotion with the flair and style associated with a Keegan team. They scored 108 goals while notching 99 points in the process.

Second Retirement

After four years at the club, Kevin made the decision to retire from football in 2005. He worked for some time on developing his own “Soccer circus” football school in Glasgow and took some well-earned time out of the game.

Third Retirement

Much to the delight of the Geordie fans, in 2008 Kevin Keegan came out of retirement and made his second return to the club as manager. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to produce the same miracles of the 1990’s.

Kevin once again resigned and retired in October of the same year. This was down to not being able to help Newcastle United win their games and also because he had a clash with tycoon owner Mike Ashley over transfers.

Where is Kevin Keegan Now?

Nowadays, Kevin Keegan tries his best to keep out of the spotlight. He has since appeared as a pundit on both ITV and ESPN during the World Cup.

This Yorkshire lad from Armthorpe has achieved such a lot in his career. Kevin’s hard work, dedication and tenacity has got him to the pinnacle of his sport and is somebody who is respected highly by all in the world of football.