by Frank Dacey
Many younger Reds are more likely to associate Kevin Keegan with Newcastle these days, but the Yorkshireman first burst onto the scene with Liverpool and indeed was, arguably, the club’s first superstar.
Keegan had first come to Bill Shankly’s attention in a long-running Scunthorpe v Tranmere FA cup tie which culminated in a second replay at Goodison Park. Shankly was impressed with Keegan’s effort and enthusiasm and at the end of that season signed Keegan up for the Reds.
His arrival was underwhelming, all eyes were on the upcoming FA Cup final against Arsenal and the Reds had made a habit of raiding the lower leagues, putting the signings in the reserves and promoting them if and when they were ready. Most Reds thought Keegan would be no different and didn’t expect to hear much more about the young man for a couple of years.
Pre-season seemed to confirm this pattern; I remember seeing Keegan playing for the reserves at Southport and being impressed by him but he was not in the squad for the final pre-season game at Leicester, where the Reds' attack fired a blank in a disappointing defeat. This was an on-going problem.
The previous season had seen only 42 goals scored in the league (42 games a season in those days) and Shankly had been trying to spice up the attack for some time. Many had been called (Hateley, Evans, Toshack and Whitham) but few had been chosen.
Shanks did select Keegan for the first league game, at home to Nottingham Forest. He scored after 12 minutes and made a fantastic impression. His energy, drive and effort lit up the side and the goals started going in regularly.
Over the next 6 years Keegan was Liverpool’s main man. He was the driving force behind 3 league titles, 2 UEFA cups, an FA Cup and the club’s first European Cup victory in his last game for the reds and in which he gave one of his best performances.
Signed for £33,000, he was sold to Hamburg in 1977 for £500,000. A £467,000 profit and 7 major trophies; no wonder Keegan is held in such high esteem by those fortunate enough to see him grace Anfield.