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Kevin Keegan in Shropshire: Spending the evening with a living legend

By Jonny Drury | Oswestry | Oswestry entertainment | Published:

On the football field Kevin Keegan won numerous titles. And at a packed venue in the county he charmed his audience. Jonny Drury reports.

Kevin Keegan

As a player Kevin Keegan delivered on the field by winning league titles, a European Cup and two Ballon D'ors.

And at a packed out Lion Quays Hotel in Oswestry he delivered on a different front, and the 300 strong crowd who paid to see him talk about his new book My Life In Football, left feeling like they had well and truly spent an evening with a legend.

Keegan's appearance at the Booka Bookshop event was one of a string of big names to come to Oswestry, a place where the former Liverpool and England star says he can remember driving through on the way home once.

He took the room full of football fans of all clubs through a journey from his hobby of train spotting, to suffering from bronchitis because of the smog that hung over his native Doncaster.

Then all the way to finally breaking into football, the success of Liverpool, and the struggles of his ill-fated reign in charge of England.

Kevin Keegan

But one of the explosive talking points of the book is his second spell as Newcastle United boss, where fallings out with controversial owner Mike Ashley led to him leaving the club under a cloud.

However, the man who was the first superstar poster boy for English football is pleased he now has chance to tell his story.

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He said: "On that front I could have told my story before, it has been 10 years since I left the club.

"But with the book coming along this is the perfect chance to tell the supporters what really happened.

"Some know stories and have approached me and I tell them the stories. It is a great club and I feel it is the chance to tell my side of the story.

"It was fantastic to look back into the past, because I don't do it very often.

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Kevin Keegan

"To write with Danny Taylor too was great. I think we got things right, although you always think you've scored more goals that you have done."

The controversial extracts have recently been serialised by a national newspaper, and Keegan explains the strange goings on that occurred.

They include a former Chelsea steward running the rule over transfers, with one story claiming he turned down the chance to sign the now Fifa men's player award winner Luka Modric because he was too small.

Another anecdote includes having to sign a player on a £26,000 per week wage as a favour.

It is fascinating stuff that people will learn in the book, along with how Keegan has only once returned to St James' Park since 2008 and it was in disguise for the leaving party of an employee.

Keegan added: "When you play up there, you feel something, you can't help but feel affection towards the fans.

"That is why they loved Beardsley, Waddle, Shearer.

Kevin Keegan

"I would love to return one day but at the moment it is what it is."

I once heard someone say the higher the profile of the player and manager, the more humble they are, and that was certainly true with Keegan.

Both during a talk with him, and watching him during his hour long illustrated talk, Keegan oozed of a man who had no airs and graces, but of a normal kid who made it big and now years later wanted to tell his story to delight others.

The way he humoured with the crowd and spoke at length about various parts of his life and career showed that he was enjoying the evening, just as much as those who had paid money to see him.

One of the loudest laughs of the evening was when he couldn't get his slide show to work.

His talk began with his life in Doncaster, and how he almost never played football due to bronchitis.

It went on to rejection at Doncaster and Coventry for being to small, then to him being given his chance by Scunthorpe.

A chance third cup replay at Goodison Park led to Keegan being spotted by the Liverpool boss Bill Shankly, and that move led him to super stardom.

Aftershave

A European Cup, Green Cross Code adverts, Ballon Dor's and aftershave advertisements followed.

Keegan was the best known footballer during the best years of his career, but the man who appeared in Oswestry was as down to earth as sportsmen come.

He also talked about the modern game, how he opened up Newcastle training sessions to the public, and how the clubs now price fans out of football despite all the money in the modern era.

A phrase he repeated the most was that 'the fans are always the most important'.

If Keegan's book was half as entertaining and humorous as his talk then people who buy it will be in for a treat.

Keegan was due to head to Newcastle and Liverpool after his Oswestry appearance, and in keeping with the evening's entertainment he finished by saying 'that will be a bit of a come down'.

Jonny Drury

By Jonny Drury
@JonnyDrury_Star

Senior reporter covering Oswestry and Mid Wales.

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