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Positional problems with Robbie Keane and 4 other things we learned from Stevie G's book

Also, thoughts on Andrea Pirlo, Roy Keane and the mistakes of his youth.

Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane were team-mates briefly at Liverpool.
Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane were team-mates briefly at Liverpool.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

1. He partially credits former Irish international Steve Heighway with turning him into the player he became

“Steve Heighway, a Liverpool legend as a player, Dave Shannon and Hugh McAuley were three football coaches who transformed me. They showed me the Liverpool way and at the Academy, they gave me the belief I could become a professional player. Under their guidance, Wrighty (Stephen Wright) and I were invited to start training with the first-team squad.”

2. He got in trouble with the law as a youngster

“I was only eleven when, with one of my mates, being silly little scallies, I tried to nick some stationery from Woolies. I needed it for school and Mum and Dad had given me the money. But we had other plans: we’d use the cash to buy a Coke and burger instead at McDonald’s. Of course, we were hopeless shoplifters, and as I was sticking pens in my pocket and paper inside my coat, the Woolies security guard clocked us straightaway. He made us give our names and tell him which school we went to and where we lived. I was so scared of my dad finding out that I lied and gave him my aunt’s address.”

3. He was humbled by praise from Alex Ferguson (in his first autobiography) and Roy Keane

“We beat Man United that day, with Danny Murphy scoring from a free kick. Roy Keane shook my hand afterwards and said, ‘Well done.’ He didn’t need to say it, after a home defeat, and so the praise from Keane and Ferguson meant a lot to me.”

4. He quickly sensed Robbie Keane’s move to Liverpool would fail

“He wanted to play as a 10 at Liverpool…  But, more often than not, Rafa played me as a 10. There wasn’t room for both Robbie and I in Rafa’s team… It was obvious that his relationship with Rafa would never work. Instead of letting Robbie be the player he had signed, Rafa tried to change him. He had Robbie attempting movements which clearly made him uncomfortable. Robbie would have been a success under most of the Liverpool managers I played with at Liverpool. But Rafa made it personal. I couldn’t understand why Rafa tried to change a top player. Let him play his own game — that’s why we signed him.”

5. He was not as impressed as everyone else by Andrea Pirlo’s display against England at Euro 2012

Soccer Euro 2012 England Italy Italy's Andrea Pirlo scores in a penalty shootout during the Euro 2012 soccer championship quarterfinal match between England and Italy. Source: Matthias Schrader

“Pirlo, we were told, had played more passes on his own than I and England’s three other midfielders combined. But I looked at it differently. Pirlo had not really done anything magical in that game. He dinked his penalty, which was magical, but in 120 minutes of play… Italy looked technically superior, but if we’d held our nerve and won on penalties — only Wayne Rooney and I scored in the 4-2 shoot-out — we would have made the semi-finals of Euro 2012.”

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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