GMF remembers a true Kop legend: Kevin Keegan
Liverpool - King Kev left a lasting legacy
With a heart of oak and enough raw energy to light up Anfield, Keegan Keegan is indeed one of the most celebrated footballers to have played for Liverpool.
Rejected by his native Doncaster, sunny Scunny was the first port of call for Keegan in 1968. But, earmarked for a calling to a higher office, he left Scunthorpe in 1971 to join the Red revolution at Liverpool.
Keegan was the glittering superstar in Bill Shankly’s team and his transition to Bob Paisley’s ship was a smooth one. His superstar status remained intact and it was unprecedented success all the way as Paisley's Liverpool men fulfilled Shankly's dream and legacy.
Keegan brilliantly spearheaded the Liverpool attack as the red half of Merseyside racked up three league titles, an FA Cup, UEFA Cup and the European Cup during 7 years of dazzling service. At Anfield Mighty Mouse’s little and large pairing with Welshman John Toshack is revered as a cult partnership, and within the top five of Liverpool’s greatest strike duos.
Keegan was an outstanding servant to Liverpool where his speed of movement and thought, wholeheartedness, and lethal shooting boots made him the darling of the Kop. For a small man, Keegan possessed a mighty salmon-like leap and his timing and accuracy left many a big defender in his wake.
There was also a red hot streak within the armoury with the famous Wembley Charity Shield spat with Mr William Bremner springing to mind.
Though Johnny Giles was at fault Keegan wasn't to know and turned on the Leeds terrier. The pint-sized pair traded punches and sent off, hurling their shirts to the ground. Both received a £500 fine and banned for 11 games - laughably eight were for throwing down the shirts.
In the 1974 FA Cup final against Newcastle, Keegan scored just before the hour mark after Brian Hall had dummied a cross into his path. The BBC’s David Coleman was in raptures, proclaiming: "Goals pay the rent, Keegan does his share!"
An unforgettable moment of the game featured Keegan tapping in to complete a fluid chain of 13 Liverpool passes to make it 3-0.
Renowned for making bold spur of the moment decisions, the 1975-76 footballer of the year announced that he would be leaving at the end of the season to join SV Hamburg. Englishmen did not generally travel well, so it was a surprising career choice. The half a million pound transfer broke the British and Bundesliga transfer records.
Many Kopites became apprehensive that Keegan's departure to the German giants would leave an irreplaceable abyss..
They were very wrong. Paisley had lined up a replacement from north of the border – a wee lad called Kenneth Mathieson Daglish. It was the start of a new chapter in the glorious history of Liverpool FC.
King Kev won the league title with Hamburg and also reached the final of the European Cup, and Keegan was rewarded with the European player of the year accolades in 1978 and 1979.
The Yorkshireman, capped 63 times, scoring 21 goals for England, was always an ardent man who let his emotions occasionally run amok. This was sometimes to his disadvantage. His finger prodding ‘I would love it if we could beat them’ outburst on Sky is a remarkable moment in the history of the Premier League.
"Only one team can win this now – England," shouted Keegan to ITV viewers moments before Dan Petrescu struck a Romanian winner in the 1998 World Cup showdown with England. It is these moments that have added to the Kev’s legend and a reason why there is genuine warmth felt by fans towards the ex England boss.
Mighty Mouse may have gone on to become a managerial top dog, but it was his performances on the luscious green grass of Anfield which made him a Kop legend.