Kevin Keegan’s move to Hamburg in 1977 is a good omen for Harry Kane ahead of his £100m Bayern switch – Germany has been a UNIVERSALLY happy home for English players
- Kevin Keegan was twice named European Footballer of the Year at Hamburg
- The English icon joined from Liverpool back in 1977 for a £500,000 transfer fee
- Click here to watch Mail Sport’s brand new show ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ in full
Kevin Keegan certainly faced challenges when he took the plunge and blazed a trail by signing for Hamburg and moving to Germany in the summer of 1977.
There was the language barrier, manifested when he and his wife tried to buy a fuse in a hardware store and were reduced to gesturing what they wanted. The shopkeeper brought out a plug. When the Keegans said ‘nein nein’, he disappeared and returned with a Christmas tree.
It wasn’t easy making a move like that back then. Liverpool manager Bob Paisley, whose club took £500,000 in cash for Keegan, declared he shouldn’t be picked for England and Brian Clough mocked him on national TV before the 1978 World Cup. (‘Who have you bet your Deutsche Marks on at this tournament, young man?’)
Yet the lesson to be taken by Harry Kane from Keegan and those who followed is that Germany has been an almost universally happy home for English players.
Of all the continental nations, it is the one which perhaps best fits the British footballer’s mindset: less chaotic and unpredictable and more organised than Italy and Spain, and with an appreciation of a work ethic which Keegan always felt was a fit with what he had known at Anfield.
Kevin Keegan moved to German outfit Hamburg for £500,000 back in 1977 from Liverpool
Harry Kane is set for a big-money move to Bayern Munich after a medical on Friday night
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The only reason Keegan’s team-mates called him Der faulte Englander — ‘The lazy Englishman’ — was because he came from a country where most people didn’t bother learning a language other than their own.
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The fitness levels demanded by manager Branko Zebec reminded him of Paisley and his coaches. The climate suits British players. And there is also the German appreciation of British football and its culture, which is very much still alive.
The Germans have loved our players, with the solitary exception of Dave Watson, who was sent off in his second match at Werder Bremen, got an eight-match ban and headed off to Southampton.
Tony Woodcock, Nottinghamshire’s finest, moved to Cologne in 1979, returned for a second spell seven years later, managed a couple of German sides and still speaks with a German twang.
He found the training even tougher than at Clough’s Nottingham Forest because there were fewer games and more sessions.
There was Alan ‘Rambo’ McInally, who remains a cult figure at Bayern, despite four years there wracked with injuries, and Mark Hughes. The new generation has included Jude Bellingham, Jadon Sancho and Reece Oxford, who is going into his seventh season in Germany.
Woodcock said he went to broaden his horizons and learn a new language and Keegan said: ‘I took the view that the footballer’s life was short and every chance should be seized.’
There is a message there for Kane, if ever there was one.
Keegan was known as ‘Mighty Mouse’ but everyone knew his name, as he was twice named European Footballer of the Year during those three years at Hamburg.
There is many a middle- aged man walking around in Germany whose first name is Kevin.
Keegan was twice named European Footballer of the Year during those three years at Hamburg
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