Agree with most of it and especially about the tripe he's had to endure as NU Manager this year. If that is the future of management, then managers are stuffed.
May I add a little history that may help put into perspective why you are quite right to say that he isn't held in the same reverence as other LFC heroes.
Cast your minds back, if you are old enough to, to the time before transfer targets had to be "Big Stars". Our way was to buy a player from the lower divisions, the news of which would be greeted with a unanimous - "who?"
The season before KK landed, Liverpool had raided Scunthorpe for an unheard of Goalkeeper who let in 5 or 6 goals during the match that Shanks went to see him in action and make a decision. As you can imagine, such a goalie cost buttons (£30k I think) and that particular "Who?" was Ray Clemence.
The next year, Shanks paid some more dosh to Scunthope and took this young Keegan chap off their hands. Many of us thought it was a bit of a thank you for the bargain that was Clem.
To our surprise and delight Shanks put him in the side almost straight away and the transformation was unreal.
This kid MADE things happen. More skillful players before and since? Lot of them. But to this day I have seen no-one who buzzed like KK. He was perpetual motion scurrying about like a terrier with rats.
He was Hero #1 - winning lots of stuff and the future was Keegan.
We are a strange breed Scousers - above everything else, we believe we own a football club and along with that we believe that our stars hold that same view of the club and of us.
Put your mind back to when you heard Stevie G was seriously thinking of going to Chelsea. Imagine it had happened and you have some idea of the impact of KK quitting the Kop.
At the time he said that he was leaving for “bigger and better things” – what it looked like to us was that he was going for the money, and with hindsight he almost certainly was.
With the passing of time, it seems to me that he lost some of the joy of playing after Shanks retired – and the consequential circus of trying to stop Shanks undermining Uncle Bob can’t have helped matters. Perhaps KK’s choice of explanation for his decision to leave was his biggest error.
I think what hurt was the “bigger and better” - we were the biggest and best in the UK and Europe at that time
Had he said it was for money, we’d have understood and been more sympathetic. (That was why when Souness left, but was upfront about it being for money he got little flak(as a player))
The fact that King Kenny was about to land meant absolutely nothing at that time. Many footballing pundits rated Kenny but most predicted that he’d not thrive in the English first division, and most of us had little clue about who he was or what he could do.
KK leaving felt like the wife running off with your dad – and it felt no better when we could see his talents wasted elsewhere. To us he went from being one of a great side to being the big star in relatively little teams
It is conceivable that had he stayed, Keegan could have played for Liverpool until 1984, in which case he could have won:-
Three more European cups
Five more league championships
Four League cups
Contrast that with his “great things with other clubs” haul of trophies playing after his LFC days....
Keegan's transfer to Hamburg was agreed between the FA Cup final (for which he need not have turned up for all the effect he had) and the European Cup final of 1977, although Keegan had negotiated a maximum transfer fee the season before. On his arrival in Germany, Keegan was the highest paid player in the country, and was built up by the press and club as the "saviour" of Hamburg. He scored in pre-season friendlies against Barcelona FC and former club Liverpool, but the club suffered defeat in the European Super Cup against the Merseysiders, and was sent off in a mid-season friendly against FC Lübeck after knocking out an opposition player with a punch. An unhappy first few months at the club gave way to a more successful season. Although the club finished tenth in the league in 1977-78, Keegan's 12 goals helped him pick up a personal honour, the France Football European Footballer of the Year award for 1978.]
The 1978-79 season saw a vast improvement on the club's 1978 finish. New manager Branko Zebec imposed a tough training regime, and Keegan's increasing grasp of the German Language, coupled with the newly imposed discipline meant that Hamburg finished as league champions for the first time in nineteen years. The club's success also translated into individual recognition for Keegan, who picked up the European Footballer of the Year award for a second consecutive year, as well as the nickname Mighty Mouse from the fans, after the cartoon superhero.
Hamburg's European campaign of 1979-80 saw Keegan score two goals to help Hamburg past FC Dinamo Tbilisi, Soviet champions who had beaten Liverpool to reach the latter stages. The club lost to Nottingham Forest in the final in Madrid, however, and this was coupled domestically with being beaten to the Bundesliga title by Bayern Munich. Having negotiated a maximum transfer fee of £500,000 in his contract the year before and agreeing a move in February, Keegan left Hamburg for Southampton in the summer of 1980. Liverpool had first refusal when he left Hamburg – but chose NOT to re-sign him.
On 10 February 1980, Lawrie McMenemy called a press conference to announce that the European Footballer of the Year would be joining Southampton F.C. in the forthcoming summer. The news caused surprise throughout the world of football and around the city of Southampton, as Southampton were a relatively small club. The club were beginning to become established in the top division, but this signing showed how persuasive their manager could be, especially when Keegan captained England in the 1980 European Championships in Italy
Keegan's two seasons at The Dell saw him as part of a flamboyant team also containing Alan Ball, Phil Boyer, Mick Channon and Charlie George and in 1980–81 Saints scored 76 goals, finishing in 6th place, then their highest league finish.
In the following season, Keegan was able to produce some of his best form and at the end of January 1982 Southampton sat at the top of the Division 1 table, but a run of only three wins from the end of February meant a rather disappointing 7th place finish. Despite this, Keegan was voted the PFA Player of the Year, and awarded the OBE for services to Association Football. Keegan had scored 26 of the team's 72 goals and was voted the club's Player of the Year.
He finally reached a World Cup when England got to the 1982 finals in Spain. He was duly named in the squad for the tournament but was suffering from a chronic back injury and was unfit to play in all of England's group games. In a last, desperate effort to play in a World Cup (he knew that he would not be around for the 1986 competition) he secretly hired a car and drove from Spain to a specialist he knew in Germany for intensive treatment. It worked to the extent that he came on as a substitute for a crucial second round pool game against the host nation which England had to win. Unfortunately, his few minutes of World Cup football saw him miss a point blank header which he directed wide.
When Bobby Robson became the new England coach after that World Cup, Keegan was left out of his first squad, a decision he learned of from the media rather than Robson himself. Keegan expressed his public displeasure and never played for his country again. He won a total of 63 caps in a period in which England had failed to qualify for three major tournaments and scored 21 goals. He captained his country 31 times.
Keegan had fallen out with McMenemy over the manager's failure to strengthen Southampton's defence (which conceded 67 goals in 1981–82) whilst the team was at the top of the table. There were also rumours that McMenemy had charged the whole team of cheating after a 3-0 defeat by Aston Villa in April 1982 to which Keegan took great exception. Although Keegan joined Saints' next pre-season tour, he had already decided to move on to seek a new challenge, and a few days before the start of the 1982–83 season he signed for Second Division Newcastle United for a fee of £100,000.
Newcastle United (1982-1984)
Keegan joined Newcastle United and spent two seasons there, during which time he was extremely popular with the supporters. He played 78 times, scored 48 goals and helped them to promotion from the Second Division in 1984, within a team which also contained Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Terry McDermott. His contribution to Newcastle's promotion, which ended their six-year absence from the First Division, earned him iconic status on Tyneside.
Keegan announced his retirement prior to the end of the 1983-1984 season.
Nevertheless, he was a superb exciting footballer – and as one who saw the majority of the games he played for us, I can tell you that we have seen no-one remotely similar to him since - he was one of a kind.