AN electrifying atmosphere greeted Kevin Keegan as the Newcastle United legend visited South Tyneside.
Hundreds of Magpies fans descended on Hedworth Hall to hear the club’s former manager and skipper speak.
Keegan’s last spell in the Newcastle hotseat was a short-lived one during the Mike Ashley regime in 2008 and ended in acrimony.
Yet the Toon talisman admitted he wouldn’t rule out a third stint at St James’s Park as manager – but only once the club was under new ownership.
He said: “It is very unlikely I would return as manager now.
“But if someone bought the club and asked me, I’d be very, very tempted I think.”
The news was welcomed by more than 200 fans who greeted Keegan at the venue, in Dean Road, South Shields.
As a player, Keegan skippered United to promotion to the top-flight in 1984 before returning as manager eight years later.
During his first stint as manager, he led the Magpies into the Premier League in 1993 and then built an incredibly exciting, star-studded team including the likes of Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, David Ginola and Tino Asprilla which although never winning silverware, captivated fans and neutrals alike. In 1996, he broke the world transfer record to bring Alan Shearer home to Tyneside in a £15m deal.
The 63-year-old was serenaded with chants of ‘There’s only one Kevin Keegan’ as he took supporters through a humorous picture-led history of his sporting career, starting with how football became his passion after his dad took him to see his local side, Doncaster Rovers at their Belle Vue ground when he was aged just six.
He went on to talk about his times at Scunthorpe United, Liverpool, SV Hamburg and Southampton before he joined the Magpies as a player in 1982.
Poking fun at his past, he spoke of how his famous permed hairstyle inspired a generation, showcased his Green Cross Code advert and his appearance on BBC sports show Superstars, which famously saw him fall from a racing bike as he tackled a cycling race with the same tenacity that marked his football career.
He spoke about his relationship with Toon supremo Sir John Hall and the signing of Shearer, adding: “As you know, we broke the world record signing Alan Shearer for £15m, and all he said to me was ‘Gaffer, I don’t want to get involved in financial things, all I want is the number nine shirt’.
“And I said ‘right, it’s yours’.”
Keegan praised the passion of the Geordie fans, saying: “Newcastle United – we used to say is a very special club.
“You have clubs who have thousands of fans, but they are made up of people from all over the world, but Newcastle doesn’t need that, Newcastle has thousands of fans. They are all from Newcastle and that is very special.”
He added: “I really enjoyed it, I haven’t been to South Shields many times, I have done the Great North Run and I’ve pushed a wheelchair in it once.
“It was such a fantastic reception, and there are a lot of Newcastle fans here who love their club.
“The future will always be good for a club like Newcastle. They have had a bit of a tough end to the season, there are a lot of things that aren’t right, but the fans know what they are and hopefully they’ll get them sorted out.
“They have some good players, but the one thing they have always had is the best fans in the world.”
Gavin Yanetta, manager of Hedworth Hall, said: “The atmosphere has been absolutely fantastic and we have had some great feedback.
“Kevin took the time to talk to fans individually, sign photographs and pose for pictures which helped make the night even more special for the fans who attended.”
n Tickets to see Alan Shearer at Hedworth Hall on Thursday, are still available. Prices start at £35. Contact 456 3112.