Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Football: I'll Always Love This Club Says King Kev; Toon's Former Messiah in Emotional Reunion with Fans

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Football: I'll Always Love This Club Says King Kev; Toon's Former Messiah in Emotional Reunion with Fans

Article excerpt

Byline: By LEE RYDER

KEVIN KEEGAN made a sensational return to Tyneside last night - and admitted his love affair with the Toon Army was still alive and kicking.

Special K sent 850 lucky and privileged fans into a frenzy at the Federation Brewery's Lancastrian Suite in Dunston, with Geordie fans turning back the clock with chants of "Keegan" and "Walking in a Keegan Wonderland".

With the packed audience hanging on every word from the Messiah, Keegan spoke of both good times and bad in reference to a five-year period in which he not only transformed Newcastle United but almost changed the face of football with an exciting brand of attacking soccer.

Keegan - who now runs his own successful Soccer Circus theme park in Glasgow - and fellow United legend Peter Beardsley were in Toon for a talk-in organised by Graeme Forster's www.grass.uk.com which supports local grassroots sports.

KK talked about a wide range of subjects, including: the day he pleaded with fans for patience on the steps at St James's Park following the sale of Andy Cole; how he once lambasted and subbed Steve Watson at half-time for a poor performance before recalling him from the showers 10 minutes later to tell him he was back on following another injury; how Eric Cantona showed the humility to shake Keegan's hand after Man United were thrashed 5-0, and admit United were a great team; looking back on the 1995/96 season, when Newcastle came within a whisker of being crowned Premier League champions.

But addressing the crowd - which included ex-players Kevin Carr, Rob Lee, John Beresf ord and Paul Bracewell - at a sell-out dinner, Keegan said: "It's always great to come back for me and not just to see Pedro - I have a lot of friends here.

"I played for the club and I managed the club. It was my dad's favourite club too, he was from Hetton.

"My grandfather was in the Stanley pit disaster and was one of the few who got out alive. So my roots are here.

"I'll always love Newcastle United and, more importantly, the fans."

Keegan's era resulted in the former Toon boss guiding United from the brink of relegation to Division Three and possible extinction to within touching distance of the Premier League trophy after building up a 12-point lead, only to be pipped by Manchester United. …

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