Flashback: When Kevin Keegan suffered a title race meltdown at Elland Road

Kevin Keegan
Kevin Keegan
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THE VENUE was Elland Road and the date was 20 years ago today - when one of the most infamous moments of sporting broadcasting history was aired to a spell-bound audience of millions.

It became known as the Kevin Keegan rant. Or ‘meltdown’ if you prefer with the frenzied and impassioned Newcastle United manager letting rip on television after his title-chasing side’s 1-0 victory at Leeds United on April 29, 1996, thanks to Keith Gillespie’s strike.

“I will love it” ... It was certainly much more entertaining than the match.

The cause of the heart-on-sleeve Yorkshireman’s ire was one Sir Alex Ferguson, with the Manchester United supremo turning the screw in the Premiership Championship title stakes by suggesting that teams like Leeds and Nottingham Forest - who Newcastle United were scheduled to play three nights after on May 2 - might not try as hard against the north-easterners as they would against his own Red Devils side, in a two-horse race for silverware with the Magpies.

Doncaster-born Keegan, whose side of great entertainers had inexplicably let a 12-point lead in January slip, was in no mood to discuss the his side’s staying, just about, in the game by beating Leeds. Hell, no...

The outburst followed hot on the heels of Coventry boss and ex-Sheffield Wednesday chief Ron Atkinson blowing a gasket several weeks earlier in another moment of broadcasting gold.

ALL IN THE PAST: Kevin Keegan (left) gets to grips with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, some years after his outburst, live on TV. Picture:: Adam Butler/P.

ALL IN THE PAST: Kevin Keegan (left) gets to grips with Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, some years after his outburst, live on TV. Picture:: Adam Butler/P.

Big Ron clashed with Sky Blues fan Richard Keys after the Midlanders had lost a key game at Southampton. ‘You can play with your gadgets as much as you like...’

But Keegan’s implosion when questioned by Sky Sports anchor Keys and leading summariser Andy Gray was quite something else deep in the bowels of the main stand at Elland Road.

Keegan famously said: “When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce ...

“I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that.

I will love it ....

Newcastle United manager, Kevin Keegan.

“We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something. And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.

“But it really has got to me. I’ve voiced it live, not in front of the press or anywhere. I’m not even going to the press conference.

“But the battle is still on and Man United have not won this yet.”

Oh Kevin, bless ...

Leeds United fans show their willingness to show a sense of togetherness before Sunday's game against Middlesbrough. 
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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