The Andy Cole column: Keegan is a man driven by belief and emotion – not by a fast buck
Thursday 08 October 2009
I was in a coffee shop in Cheshire recently and a lady walked in who looked really familiar. I couldn't place her immediately so stayed at my table. She sat by herself. Within a minute, Kevin Keegan of all people walked into the place.
He clocked me. He clocked the woman, who was his wife, Jean, a connection I was just making. Then he said: "Blanking my missus, were you? That's not very polite is it? Eh, eh?"
Then he burst out laughing, gave me that big Keegan grin, and we spent a while catching up. He just happened to be in the area. He knows I'm interested in a coaching career and when we parted company he gave me his mobile number and said any time I wanted help or advice, to call.
I mention this because Keegan is one of football's good guys, not everyone's cup of tea, certainly, but a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and who has always been passionate about his work. When I heard on Friday that he had won a £2m settlement from Newcastle for constructive dismissal, I was pleased for him not because of the cash – after a long career, I assume he's a wealthy man anyway – but because Kevin felt it was a matter of principle and he'd been very unhappy with the way he was treated.
As and when I get into management, I'll be taking contract details seriously. A lawyer contact of mine tells me it was not explicitly stated in Keegan's contract that he had final say on transfers. Kevin was successful in arguing his contract effectively gave him the final say, but if such "deal breakers" are explicit, it would avoid confusion down the line.
I know Keegan to be a man driven by belief, instinct, emotion. He gambled £1.75m of Newcastle's money in 1993 to buy me – a relative unknown – from Bristol City.
In 1993-94 in the Premiership, I scored 34 league goals and 41 altogether to set a few records. When we won, Kevin would be up. When we lost, we knew it – but he bounced back quickly.
We had one memorable falling-out, in October 1993, in a week when he lost successive games 2-1, first in the League at Southampton, then at Wimbledon in the League Cup. We were having a training session in London and I felt a bit jaded that day. "Don't fancy it, today, Coley?" Keegan said.
"I'm just a bit tired boss," I said.
"Well if you don't fancy it, you can eff off," he said.
So, I effed off. I just got a taxi and left, and spent a few days with my girlfriend (now my wife), who was living in London at the time.
The relationship healed a while after that. Keegan loves his centre-forwards, after all, and we had an amazing '93-'94, before I was sold to Manchester United in January 1995.
Asked for my top managers, the No 1 is a no-brainer: Sir Alex Ferguson. But Keegan was good too, Chris Coleman was fun, and Owen Coyle was up there.
Shaka's success isn't rocket science
I've just come back from a part-work, part-leisure trip to Jamaica, where I spent a few enjoyable days as a guest of my old mate Shaka Hislop, the former West Ham, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper. We played a bit of golf, and Shaka also introduced me to some people from ESPN America, for whom he does commentating and interviews.
Shaka's an exceptionally clever man with an amazing story. It's not something that people know about him but before becoming a pro, he graduated with honours in mechanical engineering from a top US university and spent some time with Nasa. He could have become a rocket scientist, literally.
I asked him once why he took the risky path of footballer and his answer was, I guess, obvious: he's just engrossed by the beautiful game. So much so, I joked, that after he left the Premier League in 2006, he even played in the MLS! He really enjoyed his time with Dallas but he did say it took some adjustment, and he retired in 2007.
Why I won't be paying to log on for England
Let's face it: England's match in Ukraine is being screened solely on the internet because it's no longer important. If it had any meaning, a broadcaster would have paid. It's not a game I would have stayed in to watch anyway; England have qualified for the World Cup so the job's done. I certainly wouldn't spend £4.99 or more to see it on the web. I've got nothing against technology but we pay enough to watch football already.
The fee for Andy Cole's column is donated to Alder Hey hospital and sickle cell anaemia research. He works on charitable projects with the sport and media team at the law firm Thomas Eggar
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