Birthdate: 11 February 1972
Birthplace: Kirkdale, Liverpool, England
Other clubs: Real Madrid (1999-2003), Manchester City (2003-05)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1987 - Professional 19.02.1990
International debut: 16.11.1994 vs. Nigeria
International caps: 37/3 (24/0 at LFC) - 06.10.2001
Liverpool debut: 15.12.1990
Last appearance: 16.05.1999
Debut goal: 21.08.1991
Last goal: 01.05.1999
Contract expiry: 01.07.1999
Win ratio: 48.9% W: 178 D: 97 L: 89
Games/goals ratio: 5.52
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 2 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 272 / 46
Total LFC games/goals: 364 / 66
"We've another boy who's ten and if he sees a tin can on his way to school, he steps over it. Steven was the opposite." Steve McManaman's father could see that his son was born to play football. Steven grew up as an Everton supporter, but joined Liverpool at 14 years of age. Ten days after his first England u-21 international, the 18-year-old got his first taste of first-team action when he came on against Sheffield United at Anfield on 15 December 1990. He made a couple more substitute appearances before making the starting line-up in the opening game of the 1991/92 season. McManaman had a sensational campaign, playing 51 games and scoring ten goals willing to run with the ball at length on the right wing armed with an unbelievable stamina, vital as John Barnes was out for most of the season. 'He has the chance to be one of the great players,' Graeme Souness judged after McManaman's first start. In the following game he scored his first goal with a diving header in a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City. Liverpool reached the FA Cup final and with Barnes unavailable Liverpool were relieved McMamanan had recovered from injuring his cartilage in the semi-final against Portsmouth a month earlier. McMamanan showed no rustiness as he delivered a masterful performance in the 2-0 win over Sunderland in the final. Barnes was impressed by the Red prodigy. "He played very well today, but I had no qualms about that because he is the fittest player at the club," Barnes said. "For me, he was the man of the match. He's always been a good dribbler and now he's conscious of people around him and how to bring them into the game. Crossing may not be his strongest point, but too many people try to find the perfect player. He appears to be frail, but that is deceptive. There are a lot of good players around but no one is more exciting than him.'' Injuries curtailed McManaman's progress in the next couple of seasons as Souness' disastrous spell as manager came to an end. The 1993/94 season only produced two goals for McManaman and he was criticized for his goalscoring ability. When Roy Evans took over in 1994, McManaman was given a free role and no longer being tied to the wings inspired him to greater heights. Liverpool beat Crystal Palace 6-1 in the first game of the season and McManaman scored twice, his first goals in 363 days. The League Cup was won for the fifth time, McManaman scoring both goals with another man of the match performance at Wembley. He continued his good form into 1995/96 when Liverpool showed championship form at times but disappointed in the end. The summer went well though for McManaman when he starred for England in Euro 96, reaching the semi-finals. He later failed to reproduce his form for England, drawing comparisons with John Barnes.
Liverpool sparkled again in 1996/97, but weren't the finished product. A number of teams tried to stifle McManaman by having one player chase him around for 90 minutes. Despite the close attention he did well enough to be on the five-man shortlist for the Player of the Year. In 1997/98 captain John Barnes left Liverpool and McManaman, now the most experienced player in the side, became vice-captain to Paul Ince. He scored 12 goals that season, including two superb solo goals against Celtic and Aston Villa. Rumours had been rife for a while that Juventus and Barcelona were going to offer £12 million for him and Liverpool allowed Barca to negotiate with McManaman. However, when McManaman arrived in Spain there was no one to meet him. It seems that he was effectively used as a patsy in Barcelona's quest to secure the signature of Rivaldo. McManaman's ninth and last season at Liverpool was not a pleasant one. His contract had been allowed to run into its last year sparking fears of a Bosman exit. "Roy and I have talked many times about Steve's position and what we might do to try and keep him at the club," said Houllier shortly after his arrival in July 1998. "And we are in complete agreement that our next big signing has got to be Steve." Chairman David Moores is said to have agreed to McManaman's wage demands at Liverpool, but the majority of the Board didn’t want to sanction that kind of money for fear of sparking a wage explosion. In January 1999 McManaman announced he would be leaving for European champions Real Madrid in the summer. "This was a big, major important contract and if I were to sign for Liverpool, a 3, 4, 5 year deal, it would’ve taken me into my early thirties and I don’t think I’d have played abroad then," McManaman explained later. "And it was something that if I didn’t do now, at 35, 36 I’d look back and would’ve regretted it I think and I don’t want that to happen."
It soon became apparent that Real only wanted to make a quick buck off McManaman as the club tried to sell him for £6 million soon after his arrival. Real discovered however the lad could also play and he starred in the Champions League final in his first season, scoring a superb goal in a 3-0 win over Valencia. McManaman would win a second Champions League winners' medal with Madrid in 2002 when he came on as a second-half substitute for Luis Figo in Glasgow but on the whole the amount of playing-time he was given was being reduced season by season. After around 150 matches and 16 goals for Real in four campaigns McManaman returned to England in August 2003 with Manchester City, then managed by Kevin Keegan, where he was reunited with former Liverpool teammates Robbie Fowler, Nicolas Anelka and, later, David James. McManaman stayed with City for two seasons, playing in 44 first-team matches, but failed to score a single goal even though he created a few. Keegan resigned in March 2005 and his successor, Stuart Pearce, released the midfielder on a free transfer towards the end of May. Since McManaman's retirement as a player he has been involved in quite a lot of media work, including being a UEFA ambassador as a former Real Madrid player in the build-up to the 2010 Champions League final at the Bernabeu in Madrid. He has also worked for the ESPN Star channel based in Singapore and was a television analyst at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Journalist Tony Barrett rightly considers Steve McManaman one of the best players to grace Liverpool's shirt in the 90's. "There was a buzz about McManaman from early on. He comes from Kirkdale and everyone on Scotland Road was talking about Steve McManaman and from the moment he came into the side you could see why. He had that ability to beat defenders with ease and with just a drop of the shoulder or a jink he would be away. He was so naturally talented but it was easy to forget how much work he got through in a Liverpool shirt. There was no-one who ran more and he was a natural athlete and he ran and ran and ran."