'There were 30-40 kids in Doncaster better than me:' Football legend Kevin Keegan on his childhood in rare archive clip

Doncaster born football legend Kevin Keegan says there were ‘30-40 kids better than him’ in recently rediscovered archive BBC footage from more than 40 years ago.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 1:35 pm

The ex-England and Liverpool legend, one of the game’s biggest stars during the 1970s and 80s, spoke about life growing up in Doncaster – and revealed how his dad once bought him a second-hand pair of football boots for £3 after winning some money on the Grand National.

He also revealed how he had to walk ‘a mile and a half’ to find ‘a bit of green’ to play football – and how he used his younger brother in a pram as a goalpost!

The archive interview with broadcaster John Stapleton and first shown on Nationwide on June 20 1977 when the footballer was 26, has just been added to the BBC archive of retro news footage.

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Kevin Keegan was interviewed for Nationwide in 1977. (Photo: BBC).

It comes from the time when Keegan had just completed his final season at Liverpool ahead of his move to German club Hamburg.

Born at 32 Elm Place, Armthorpe in 1951 to miner Joe and his wife Doris, Keegan was the middle of three children, with an older sister Mary and younger brother Michael.

He attended St. Peter's High School in Cantley and played football in Hyde Park.

Famously, he was rejected by Doncaster Rovers and worked at Balby’s Pegler as a tea boy and messenger, playing for Elmfield House and Lonsdale Hotel football teams before getting his break at Scunthorpe United.

In the footage, Keegan tells Stapleton: “I had a very good upbringing.

"My mother and father never had very much money. At Christmas they used to borrow money from a money lender and we’d have more toys than the fella up the road who could probably afford more for his kids.

"We never went short of anything and I think is why my sister and brother and myself always look after me mum and always will look after her, because we realise how lucky wer were.

"Times were hard then and that is why I appreciate what I have got now and I wouldn’t want to chuck it all away over doing some stupid things."

The footage also sees Keegan talking about on his first steps in the beautiful game which led him to a glittering career.

He said: “My dad used to back the horses. He used to like a drink like most miners.

"He won a few quid on the Grand National one year and he took me down for some second hand boots.

“When you think back now, I like to think I’ve paid him back. That £3 to him back then was a lot of money and he just gave it to me without even thinking about it.

"Things like that keep cropping up fo me and remind me just how far I’ve come.”

The interview then goes on to discuss Keegan’s early football career – and how he would trek miles to play the game – and use his brother as a goal post.

He said: “Uncle Frank fetched me a big leather football which I could hardly lift – it had a big lace in it.

"I wanted to be a footballer, but as I got older, 12 or 13 years old, I more or less resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t be.

"There was probably five or six lads in our school team better than me and definitely 30-40 in the Doncaster area better than me.

"I worked it out that if there’s 30-40 better than me here and there’s all these places all over England, I’m not going to get a club.

"But luckily I was a late developer. I was very small. Big lads used to knock me out of the way. I started doing weights and at 16 I couldn’t stand up to them.

"We lived in a very old part of Doncaster. We had to go a mile and a half to find a bit of green which was a place called Hyde Park and I used to carry the football.

"I would take my little brother as a goalpost, stuck him in the pram. It was nothing new to him to get the ball in the face and tell mum we’d used him as a goal post.

"It was an excuse to get away from home. Mum never used to worry about me. I never did anything stupid. Never smashed windows or anything like that like a lot of kids did.

"We never thought about things like that. It was football every minute of every day.”

Beginning his career at Scunthorpe in 1968, he went on to play for Liverpool, Hamburg, Southampton and Newcastle, captained England and also managed Newcastle United, Fulham and Manchester City, winning promotion as champions in his first full season at all three clubs.

He also won the Ballon d'Or twice in 1978 and 1979.

His club honours included three First Division titles, the UEFA Cup twice, the FA Cup and the European Cup and was capped 63 times for England, scoring 21 goals.

The football legend celebrated his 70th birthday earlier this year.

You can watch the full length clip HERE