Kevin Keegan breaks silence on sorry end to England reign after quitting in TOILETS
Kevin Keegan has finally broken his silence on his England reign – and admitted he wanted to quit as manager even before his shock Wembley walk out.
Keegan stunned football when he resigned in the dressing room toilets after England lost to Germany in a World Cup qualifier in October 2000.
In his new autobiography, he admits he wanted to go straight after Euro 2000, was damning about the FA and former technical director Howard Wilkinson and admitted he stood no chance because there were so few England players in the Premier League.
Keegan said: “Maybe, in hindsight, it would have been better if I had resigned after Euro 2000. I did consider it but, once I started thinking about the next assignment, qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, I still had the appetite to do the job.
“Despite everything, it was still an incredible honour to be in that position and I never lost sight of that fact. I wanted to have another go, reach another major tournament and make sure we did better next time.
“I was still backing myself. Yet the minute that game against Germany ended – the last match at the old Wembley – I knew that was it for me.
“I gave it my best shot. I worked hard and tried my best to bang the drum for the English game. But I had also come to realise it wasn’t the job it was cracked up to be. I didn’t enjoy dealing with the FA.
“I didn’t like the way I had so little time with the players. I didn’t like the long, frustrating periods between games when the job could feel soulless and it wasn’t easy knowing how to fill my time, sometimes bored rigid. I didn’t like all sorts of things.
“In the end, I had stopped enjoying the job. In fact, that began a long time before I set off on the lonely, unforgiving walk from the England dugout to the tunnel at the old Wembley, listening to the vitriol of the supporters after losing 1–0 to Germany in our first qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup.
“The crowd was vicious and, as I entered the dressing room, I already knew it would be the last time I addressed the players. Some of the lads – Tony Adams and a couple of others – tried to talk me out of it. If they had known me better they would have understood it wasn’t negotiable. ‘I can’t go on like this,’ I told them. ‘I’m not getting the results. I want to thank you for what you’ve done but I’m done now.’ It wasn’t a long conversation.
“David Davies, the FA’s executive director, came in and we went into the room, adjacent to the changing area, where there was the bath and the toilets. The press loved that: ‘Keegan quits in toilets!’
“But where else could we go? The corridor outside was crawling with television reporters. The dressing room was full of wrought, emotional players and we needed somewhere quiet. I told David I couldn’t face it any more.
“I knew I would be branded a quitter. I knew it would be a permanent regret and that all kinds of hell would be unleashed in the press, but I didn’t see any point carrying on. I was honest. ‘It’s a step too far for me,’ I said. And that was it.”
MY LIFE IN FOOTBALL by Kevin Keegan is published on Thursday.