Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Happy 65th Birthday, KK

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Happy 65th Birthday, KK

Article excerpt

Byline: Dave Morton Nostalgia Editor david.morton.editorial@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE Chronicle extends the very warmest birthday wishes to the one and only Kevin Keegan.

For a man born 65 years ago tomorrow, there remains genuine love and affection in the region for the one-time Newcastle United captain and manager.

He is without doubt one of the most important figures in the chequered 124-year history of the club, rescuing the Magpies from footballing oblivion not once, but twice.

If the last of Keegan's three stints at Gallowgate in 2008 is best forgotten (like much that has happened there in the last decade or so, in fact), his first two were remarkable.

When he sensationally arrived as a player from Southampton in the summer of 1982, United were in the seemingly inescapable doldrums of the second division.

The 31-year-old was one of the most famous faces in Britain.

An England captain, twice European footballer of the year at Hamburg, as well as scorer of seven career goals for Liverpool against the Magpies, Keegan was a real-deal football superstar His reported PS3,000-aweek salary may seem peanuts by today's standards, but in 1982 it was "top-whack" money, and Kev duly made his debut against Queens Park Rangers on August 28.

His impact was felt immediately. The previous season's average gate had been just over 17,000.

More than 35,000 were rammed into a white-hot St James' Park for his first match.

The sun was shining and, inevitably, he scored, sending the Gallowgate End, into meltdown.

Looking back, Keegan's boundless energy and self-belief were utterly infectious not only at the football club, but also across the city and the region at a time when, for many, life was tough.

In that first season, he helped nurture the brilliant young talent of Chris Waddle as United narrowly missed out on promotion.

There would be no mistake in 1983-84, when another prodigious young

Geordie talent, Peter Beardsley, returned from Vancouver Whitecaps, and a Keegan-inspired Newcastle United returned to the top flight after an enforced absence of six seasons. …

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