MARTIN KEOWN: Marvelling at Kevin Keegan as a kid in 1974… How I fell in love with football

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Kevin Keegan


MARTIN KEOWN: Newcastle fans buying all the ale from my parents’ supermarket ahead of the 1974 FA Cup final and marvelling at Kevin Keegan as a kid… How I fell in love with football

  • Kevin Keegan played a key role in getting me into football during my childhood
  • I watched him on TV for Liverpool against Newcastle in the 1974 FA Cup final
  • The passion of the fans that day convinced me that I wanted to be a footballer 

In a 1987 Q&A for a magazine, I was asked who my childhood hero was, and I said Kevin Keegan. That was because he played a part in me getting into football in May 1974. 

I was seven at the time, and my mum and dad ran a mini-supermarket that also sold alcohol in Oxford. 

One day, two Geordie chaps came in, and bought all the Newcastle Brown Ale we had on the shelves. They cleared us out of the stuff! 

Kevin Keegan’s performance in the 1974 FA Cup final was part of the reason I got into football

He scored twice in a 3-0 win and I remember fans buying alcohol from our shop pre-match

He scored twice in a 3-0 win and I remember fans buying alcohol from our shop pre-match

It was to drink while they supported their team in the FA Cup final that afternoon. Their excitement was infectious and, at the time, I was the only member of my family with an interest in football. 

Later that day, my mum put BBC One on our television for me, and I got to watch Liverpool face Newcastle. 

I watched every minute of it, from the build-up, to the players walking out in front of 100,000 at Wembley, to Keegan scoring twice for Liverpool in a very one-sided 3-0 win. 

My mum put the match on TV and the passion of the fans made me desperate to be a footballer

My mum put the match on TV and the passion of the fans made me desperate to be a footballer

I was taken aback by the passion of the fans. From that moment on, I knew what I wanted to do in life.   

I told anyone and everyone that I would become a professional footballer and play in a final like that, in front of all those people, someday. 

‘Yeah, yeah, of course you will,’ I’d get back. But that match became my inspiration, and Keegan became my hero. He was the star of the show, and I was officially hooked.

After that, I spent the summer of ’74 watching the World Cup. I’d ask my parents: ‘When are the orange team playing?’ Holland had Johan Neeskens and Johan Cruyff. I’d watch them strut their stuff then be out in my back garden, practising my Cruyff turn. 

I’d pass the ball against the wall for hours until I perfected my technique. That’s what we do as kids — we watch, then try to copy. 

Johan Cruyff became someone I looked up to and I used to try to copy him in the back garden

Johan Cruyff became someone I looked up to and I used to try to copy him in the back garden

I feel for the youngsters out there who cannot take in any football right now. At the age of eight, I started playing for my local Sunday team, and was in the extremely early stages of moulding a career for myself. 

My parents supported me the entire way. Both of them had tremendous determination and were immensely driven. They equipped me with the work ethic I needed to make it in football. 

But it’s funny to think of the chain of events that led me to where I am now. Imagine if those two guys had not visited the shop and snapped up all our ale. Imagine if I hadn’t watched the FA Cup final that day. Imagine if my subsequent summer was not spent admiring that wonderful Dutch side.

But I’m so glad all that happened, because that was how I fell in love with football. 

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