Book Review: My Life in Football – The Autobiography by Kevin Keegan

Depending on your age, Kevin Keegan is either a Liverpool legend, a Newcastle legend or that guy who called out Sir Alex Ferguson in a live interview that has become the stuff of legend. But whether you think you know Kevin Keegan or not, reading his autobiography will almost certainly make you think again. Not only does it reflect on the early years before his fame and his unconventional route to the top, but it also shows in a starkly frank way the situations Keegan found himself in behind the scenes, especially as a manager, and they make for very interesting reading. He opens up on the characters, clubs and stories behind some of the most iconic moments in his career. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t hold back when he feels there are injustices that need to be accounted for, but, admirably, he’s quick also to acknowledge his own failings. Indeed, if there is one thing that this autobiography is it is honest – often unflinchingly so.

Despite only having been out of management over the last ten years, Keegan’s portrait of the world of football offers a very different vision to the sport we know now, and, especially in respect of the early decades of his career, there is a very clear sense of how times have changed. For those who can’t remember Kevin Keegan’s playing days, the autobiography also serves to highlight his footballing ability – he was the third ever Englishman to win the prestigious Ballon D’or, after legendary figures Stanley Matthews and Bobby Charlton, and the only Englishman to have ever won it twice. In terms of his managerial career, the bulk of this is given to his two spells at Newcastle, including that difficult second period, but the autobiography also recalls his successes, not least securing promotion with Manchester City from the First Division to the Premier League, which in many ways became the springboard for their later successes.

Reading the autobiography gives a very clear picture of who Kevin Keegan is both as a man, a footballer and manager, and just like that infamous interview, it’s apparent he’s lost none of that forthrightness and tenacity.

Jade Craddock

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Sharing the Love: From Fulham to Leeds

 There are times when your faith in what football is all about is restored. What we are talking about is that 90 minutes of activity that takes place on the pitch. Forget all the hype, the punditry………just solid focus……….22 men………the right result………out there, in front of you. For that duration all the issues surrounding your club are put to one side. You can just focus as the events unfold before your eyes……..the raw emotion. That time was last night. Fulham FC v Hamburg SV…The biggest game in the clubs history. A capacity crowd, vociferous away fans and a palpable tension. The nervousness of the home fans seemed to translate to the players, or was it the other way round? Movement and noise……..missed tackles……close shaves…….great saves. The ebb and flow is ceaseless, and then time stands still….you suddenly look up at the scoreboard…..where did that first 22 minutes go. They get a free kick; you just know they are going to score. You and the rest of the home crowd hold their breath……….and your worst fear is confirmed. You see the ball bulge in the net…… explosion of sound from the away fans………your losing and your dream is shattered. The home team and fans respond……..but it is all too brief……..a lull develops……’s half-time.

The break reduces noise levels to a hum………an uneasy, restless sound. Conversations exchanged about what the manager should do…….some nod, others disagree.

And so it’s “shit or bust” as the second half begins. “Stand up if you still believe” rings out amongst the home faithful. The first challenge of the second half leaves the home leading goal scorer limping… fear the worst. On 57 minutes the inevitable happens and he has to be substituted… seems to have no impact. Nervous glances at the scoreboard clock become more frequent……..and like drifting sand, time is slipping ever quicker away. Whispers start to surface that perhaps there is no escape this time……the last 20 minutes looms. Just when the belief is on the wane……a flick, a turn, a shot……’s one all……….the tension bursts…. “Stand up if you still believe” is the refrain once more. Can we do this? Can we really? Suddenly the bouncing, buoyant away fans are silent and still. Do they feel it? Do they know what is coming? And it does……….just seven minutes later…….a scrappy goalmouth melee and then suddenly there’s a chance and it’s in……2-1! Pandemonium…….delirious, riotous joy. Is time now friend or foe? 14 minutes and you’ve done it. But you know another goal for them and it’s all over again……that’s how fragile that your dream is. And so you live every second of that last 14 minutes. It is a blur, but you sense the frantic events of the away team as they desperately try to claw their way back. Three minutes of added time…….the agony is extended. Wasted possession……..loose passes………just steady it!

Then it happens…………..the final whistle. Joy, so much joy. Tears, hugs, handshakes, clapping, screaming, waving, chanting……disbelief, relief. A collective orgasm of satisfaction. A warm feeling that leaves you smiling.

It’s what we all dream of from our 90 minutes each week. I hope that this sensation applies to the games that Leeds have to come. Unless you’re a fan, you just don’t get it…………it’s our games, our team, our passion and our love. Are you listening Ken?