Happy 70th birthday Kevin Keegan!

Kevin Keegan, two-time European Footballer of the Year and one of the best footballers HSV has ever had, celebrates a significant milestone today. 

The ‘Mighty Mouse’ celebrates his 70th birthday! The former Hamburg player shocked the footballing world when he moved from the reigning European champions Liverpool to HSV in 1977. Punching above his weight, the Englishman exceeded all expectations during his three years in Hamburg, and to this day is one of the formative players in the club’s history, on and off the pitch.

Born in Doncaster in 1951, from a young age Keegan displayed the mental and physical strength that would serve him well later as part of his career. After five years at his local club Scunthorpe United, Keegan joined one of the top European teams of the 1970s, Liverpool, developing into a bona fide superstar. Under the tutelage of legendary manager Bill Shankly, Keegan’s position changed from a winger to a striker, becoming one of the most dangerous attacking players in Europe and securing seven titles during his six years at Anfield, including the European Cup in 1977.

Towards the end of the 1976/77 season, the then-26-year-old confirmed his wish to leave the club at the end of the season for pastures new abroad. The Rothosen’s business manager, Dr. Peter Krohn, was able to secure Keegan’s services ahead of a host of other top European clubs for 2.3m Deutschmark, at that time double the Bundesliga transfer record. At the beginning of his time at the Volksparkstadion, Keegan had problems to adapt to the new city and language, and wasn’t accepted straight away by his teammates due to the hefty price tag on his head. A disappointing first season in the Bundesliga ended with a 10th-placed finish and 12 league goals for Keegan, but personal honours came in the form of ‘European Football of the Year’ (later renamed as the Ballon d’Or).

At the start of the 1978/79 season, Croatian Branko Zebec took over the reins at HSV, his no-nonsense approach and intense fitness regime bringing the best out of Keegan and the rest of the squad. Perhaps the most famous perm in the world began to be adored on and off the pitch, not just in Hamburg but throughout Germany. Keegan’s 1979 single “Head over Heels in Love” made it to the 10th spot in Germany’s Hit Parade, underlining his popularity away from football. On the pitch the Rothosen celebrated their first German title in 19 years, thanks in the main to 17 goals from the ‘Mighty Mouse’, who won ‘European Footballer of the Year’ for the second year in a row. He is one of only 10 players who have won the award twice or more. 

In the summer of 1979, the Yorkshireman had a number of lucrative offers to leave HSV, but decided he wanted one more shot at winning the European Cup with Hamburg. The Rothosen came ever so close, securing their place in the final with an astonishing 5-1 second-leg victory over Real Madrid at the Volksparkstadion. Yet it wasn’t to be, Keegan’s compatriots Nottingham Forest winning the final at the Estadio Bernabéu and Bayern Munich regaining their title in the league. The now-England captain returned to his home country in 1980 with Southampton, seeing out his career at his childhood team and his father’s favourites, Newcastle United, before hanging up his boots for good in 1984.

The passion for and dedication to attractive football accompanied him to his career on the sidelines, enjoying successful spells at Newcastle, Fulham and Manchester City. His honest style was popular wherever he went, wearing his heart on his sleeve, and ensuring that he is still one of the most popular players in HSV history, more than four decades after his departure from Hamburg.

The whole club would like to wish Kevin a happy birthday and all the best for the future!