Monday, October 02, 2006

100 Players Who Shook The Kop Top 10

#8 - Kevin Keegan

Name: Kevin Keegan

Years at Liverpool: 1971 to 1977

Position: Forward

Date-of-birth: 14/2/1951

Birthplace: Armthorpe

Signed from: Scunthorpe United (May 1971)

Games: 323
Goals: 100

Honours: First Division Championship (1972/73, 1975/76, 1976/77), European Cup (1977), FA Cup (1974), UEFA Cup (1973, 1976), Charity Shield (1974, 1976)

Bought for a bargain £35,000 from the lower leagues in 1971, Kevin Keegan's high-profile departure in the summer of 1977 may have left a bitter taste but there can be no denying his stature as a true legend of this club.

In the six years he wore a red shirt, Keegan went from unknown rookie to an internationally renowned star, attracting a type of hero-worship that was almost pop idol-esque at times. Like Michael Owen two decades later, he became not only a Kop hero but also the golden boy of English football and a player who shouldered the hopes of a nation.

One hundred goals, three League Championships, the European Cup, FA Cup and two UEFA Cup's, not to mention a multitude of magical memories mean he'll forever be revered in the red half of Merseyside.

'Robbery with violence' was how Bill Shankly described the capture of Keegan from Scunthorpe, such was the belief that he'd got himself a bargain buy to beat all others. And he was right.

Although he'd been signed with a view to replacing Ian Callaghan in midfield, the confident new recruit immediately impressed in an attacking role during pre-season. So much so that he was handed a surprise debut at home to Nottingham Forest on the opening day of the season – an occasion he marked by scoring in front of the Kop after just 12 minutes.

Energetic, enthusiastic and one hundred per cent committed to the Kop cause, Keegan was a born winner who provided Shankly's second great side with the spark that ignited a renewed assault on the major honours.

In 1972/73, Keegan fired the Reds to an unprecedented domestic and European double, topping the Anfield goalscoring charts in the process and netting what proved to be a crucial brace in the UEFA Cup Final first leg against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Another two-goal Keegan blast clinched FA Cup success the following year as Newcastle, a club that would play a big part in his future life, were overwhelmed at Wembley. The effervescent number seven had already struck four times on route to the twin towers that season, including a perfectly lobbed effort over Leicester's Peter Shilton in the semi-final replay at Villa Park.

On the eve of the 1976/77 season every Liverpudlian's worst fears were confirmed when Keegan served notice of his intention to quit the club and join Bundesliga outfit Hamburg in twelve months time.

His decision was understandably met with disdain from certain sections of the Kop and his once soaring popularity dipped significantly in the months that followed as some fans questioned his loyalty.

Four days after being made the scapegoat by some for the FA Cup Final defeat by Manchester United, which had scuppered dreams of the treble, Keegan won back the everlasting affection of the supporters with a dazzling performance against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

On a balmy night in the Olympic Stadium his tireless work-rate and close control bamboozled experienced German international Bertie Vogts to such an extent that he had no option but to bring him down for the penalty that sealed a momentous victory.

Keegan may have gone on to be crowned European Footballer of the Year twice during his spell in Germany but it was at Anfield where he enjoyed his greatest success and spent his best years.

One of Liverpool Football Club's favourite sons, there'll always be a special place in the heart of the Kop for Kevin Keegan – an iconic figure of an era that no Liverpudlian who lived through it will ever forget.

Sold to: SV Hamburg (July 1977)

Claim to fame: Scoring twice in the 1974 FA Cup Final victory over Newcastle

Did you know? Liverpool had first option to buy Keegan back when he left Hamburg but Bob Paisley opted not to take up the offer and he went to Southampton instead

Where is he now? Not much has been seen or heard of him since leaving his post as Manchester City manager in 2004/05 but he was recently linked with the vacant managerial position at Doncaster

Brian Hall on Kevin Keegan: "Kevin turned out to be a brilliant footballer. For me, his contribution to that seventies team was quite phenomenal. The media tried to make him into some kind of superstar but he was a team player and when he pulled on his red shirt was one of the lads. I thought he was a terrific person and a terrific footballer."

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