Today marks the 20th anniversary of Kevin Keegan’s famous ‘I will love it’ rant.
The then-Newcastle manager gave a post-game speech after his side’s 1-0 win over Leeds United that has gone down in Premier League folklore.
The win left the Magpies three points adrift of leaders Manchester United and Keegan decided to respond to Sir Alex Ferguson’s suggestion that Nottingham Forest, Newcastle’s next opponent, wouldn’t try as hard against Keegan’s team as they did against Ferguson’s.
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“Honestly, I will love it if we beat them,” Keegan exclaimed. “Love it.”
And with that, Manchester United became champions.
Newcastle had a 12-point lead atop the table but drew their final two game after Keegan’s rant. It was one of the most remarkable collapses in the Premier League era.
One player who benefited was David Beckham. Then a 22-year-old, the former United winger won the first of six Premier League titles in 1995-96 and has now revealed how Keegan’s outburst affected United’s dressing room.
Were United’s players nervous after hearing the Newcastle boss’s public message? Were they heck.
“Watching that game, we all came in the next day to training and we were all laughing about it,” Beckham told Sky Sports, per Goal. “We were that young but even as players, we knew we’d got to Kevin and Newcastle.
“I love Kevin, I think he’s a great manager, a really amazing person, but you could tell he felt so strongly about what the manager had been doing, but we came into training and knew we’d won the league by then.”
Beckham: Ferguson was the best
It was the first time Beckham witnessed Ferguson’s mind games and the former England international was in disbelief after watching the Scot work his magic.
“It’s amazing because it was my first full season as a Manchester United player in the first team,” Beckham added.
“We’d seen and grown up with Sir Alex Ferguson, we knew how the boss was, we knew he knew how the mind games worked, how exactly to get to someone, how to get to a team, the players. Other managers didn’t think it was fair at times.
“We weren’t that aware but we were aware of what the manager was capable of. Because he was the best.”
Rafa's 'facts' rant
Rafa Benitez became the next Keegan when he cracked under Ferguson’s pressure in the 2008-09 season.
Benitez’s Liverpool led the league in January but the Spaniard felt the need to react when Ferguson made one too many references to his perceived injustice at the hands of referees.
He went on a tirade now known as the ’facts’ rant, even reading out a list of incidents involving Ferguson and referees.
And with that, United became champions.