England football star Kevin Keegan lay in hospital last night unaware that his club Liverpool had turned down a Real Madrid offer of around £700,000, that would make him the highest priced player in British football history.
Keegan is in hospital with stomach trouble and knew nothing of yesterday’s drama. Augustin Dominguez, Real’s general secretary rang John Smith with an open ended offer worth up to £700,000, but was told politely: “Nothing done.”
Last night Smith said: “It was a most friendly discussion but Senor Dominguez was told we were just not interested in doing business.” He also spoke with our secretary Peter Robinson.
“Keegan is under contract; we are in the European Cup and we are all looking forward immensely to the new season.”
Miljan Miljanic, the Real manager, made his fourth and final check in two months on Keegan, in an exhibition match in Paris last week. He said: “I have watched several players extensively in Europe and South America, and Keegan is unquestionably exactly the player we want to replace Gunther Netzer to link Paul Breitner in midfield and Santilana in attack. There is no other player I know of in world football today who has the same kind of professionalism and energy as Keegan.”
Liverpool’s refusal – predictable in spite of the price – will be a big blow to Miljanic’s team building with a side containing seven players of 28 or over. Liverpool were expecting the offer, and knew that money was no object to Real. But as manager Bob Paisley said: “Money is of no use to us.”
Don Revie, England’s manager, last night heaved a sigh of relief. Keegan’s departure to the Spanish champions would inevitably have complicated the player’s availability for the World Cup squad.
Revie said: “What happens between Liverpool and Real is none of my business, but I would merely hope that any England player going abroad would have sufficient pride in playing for his country that he would get in his contract, his release for international matches.”
Madrid, who appeal against their European ban in Zurich on Friday, will now probably turn to the Argentine or Brazil. But whoever they get will be very much a second choice to Keegan.
Copyright - Daily Express, 29-06-1976 - Transcribed by Kjell Hanssen