London: Kevin Keegan’s famous words beat out all other comers and won a vote taken by leading football figures, journalists and commentators. Here’s how it came about…
Kevin Keegan’s swashbuckling Newcastle side had dominated most of the 1995/96 campaign and held a 12-point lead over their nearest rivals at one point. But never ones to throw in the towel, Manchester United had clawed their way back into the title race. With the season reaching its denouement, Alex Ferguson upped the ante with three matches to go by suggesting that other teams may not try as hard against Newcastle as they would against his side.
Keegan was furious and, asked about Ferguson’s comments after the Magpies had defeated Leeds, the manager – voice cracking with emotion – launched into the famous tirade live on TV. It has become the stuff of legend. Everyone knows what happened next – Newcastle went on to draw their final two fixtures as Manchester United won the title by four points.
“When you do that with footballers like he [Ferguson] said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce,” began Keegan.
“I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it. But it really has got to me. I’ve voiced it live, not in front of the press or anywhere. I’m not even going to the press conference. But the battle is still on and Man United have not won this yet.”
THE FOUR QUOTES KEEGAN’S RANT BEAT
ERIC CANTONA, 1995: “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea. Thank you very much.”
ALAN HANSEN, 1995: “The trick is always buy when you’re strong so he needs to buy players. You can’t win anything with kids. You look at that line-up Manchester United had today and Aston Villa at quarter-past two when they get the team sheet, it’s just going to give them a lift and it will happen every time he plays the kids. He’s got to buy players, as simple as that.”
SIR ALEX FERGUSON, 2003: “We have to carry on doing our best. It’s getting tickly now – squeaky-bum time, I call it. It’s going to be an interesting few weeks and the standard of the Premiership is such that nothing will be easy.”
JOSE MOURINHO, 2004: “Please don’t call me arrogant because what I am saying is true. I am European champion so I am not one of the bottle. I think I am the special one.”