‘I wouldn’t swap with Hodgson’

DESPITE playing at the highest standard and managing at international level, Kevin Keegan is a football fan just like the rest of us.

Ask him about England’s chances at Euro2012 and he speaks to you just like a mate would down the pub.

“I’m pretty much the same as everybody. I’ve no real expectations for England. It’s unrealistic to say we are definitely going to win it.

“The best chance we’ve had of winning a tournament was when we hosted Euro96, but that was 16 years ago.

“But because there is no hype, and the players are not under such pressure to do well, maybe that will build their confidence.

“We’ve had all sorts of things happen at European Championships over the years. Greece won it in 2004 and Denmark won it when they hadn’t even qualified, so you have to believe there is still a chance.”

It sounds like what most England fans have been saying over the past month or so. But unlike your mate down the pub, Keegan can say: “The players believe. I know a lot of them. I have managed some of them.”

A legend at Liverpool and Newcastle, he was in Bridlington as one of the keynote speakers at the Yorkshire Internation Business convention at the Spa.

His speech drew heavily on his Yorkshire roots as he was born in Armthorpe in South Yorkshire - and he knew of the connection between his home town and Bridlington, with Armthorpe Welfare playing in the same league as Bridlington Town.

Keegan led England into Euro2000, but his 18-month stint at the helm ended in the rain in the last match played at the old Wembley Stadium. Germany won 1-0 and Keegan resigned after the final whistle.

Does he long for the days of leading his country at a major tournament?

“I wouldn’t swap with Roy Hodgson. I don’t envy him. I like Roy and I know him quite well, because managers are all in contact with each other.

“I’ve always found him a very likeable man, very knowledgable and respectful and the players respect him.

“But he is under so much less pressure than some of us were because he has only been in the job six or eight weeks, and he has lost some key players - one of them through his own choice.”

The decision to leave Rio Ferdinand behind has divided pundits, players, fans, everyone. So, if he had been in charge, would Keegan have taken Ferdinand to Poland and Ukraine?

“It’s impossible to say because I don’t know what conversations went on at the FA but certainly I think that Rio Ferdinand is one of the top 23 English players on merit.”

As friendly and chatty as ever, Keegan had warmed up for his speech in Bridlington by strolling into a town centre cafe and having a full English breakfast - you can’t imagine Sven or Fabio ever being so down-to-earth

His tip for England’s match against Sweden, England to win 2-0, was slightly wide of the mark, although he admitted he was not going to be able to watch the match because of family commitments.