Depending on your age, Kevin Keegan is either a Liverpool legend, a Newcastle legend or that guy who called out Sir Alex Ferguson in a live interview that has become the stuff of legend. But whether you think you know Kevin Keegan or not, reading his autobiography will almost certainly make you think again. Not only does it reflect on the early years before his fame and his unconventional route to the top that is less well-documented than his subsequent successes, but it also shows in a starkly frank way the situations Keegan found himself in behind the scenes, especially as a manager, and they make for some very interesting reading. Indeed, if there is one thing that this autobiography is it is honest – often unflinchingly so, which is commendable and eye-opening. It sheds entirely new light on some of the characters, clubs and stories behind some of the most iconic moments in Keegan’s career and he doesn’t hold back when he feels there are injustices that need to be accounted for. But, admirably, he’s quick also to acknowledge his own failings.
Despite only having been out of management over the last ten years, Keegan’s portrait of the world of football offers a very different vision to the heady days we find ourselves in now, and especially in respect of the early decades of his career, there is a very clear sense of how times have changed. And certainly that early journey into football makes for a fascinating read of the history of the game. For those who can’t remember Kevin Keegan’s playing days, the autobiography also serves to highlight his footballing ability – he was the third ever Englishman to win the prestigious Ballon D’or, after legendary figures Stanley Matthews and Bobby Charlton, and the only Englishman to have ever won it twice, and that in consecutive years. In terms of his managerial career, the bulk of this is given to his two spells at Newcastle, including that difficult second spell, but the autobiography also serves to remind readers of his successes, securing promotions at all of the teams he managed, which notably included getting Manchester City promoted from the First Division to the current Premier League, since which they’ve gone on to become the powerhouse they are today.
This autobiography really does put Keegan’s achievements into perspective and reminds readers of the footballing significance of a player and manager who has become something of a myth in recent years. And just like that infamous interview, Keegan’s book brims with that same forthrightness and tenacity.
Jade Craddock 4/-
My Life in Football: The Autobiography by Kevin Keegan
Macmillan pbk 9781509877232 Apr 2019