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Silkmen A-Z: Kevin Keen

11 June 2019

We continue our look back at the Silkmen stars of yesteryear by featuring an illustrious midfielder who ended his playing career at the Moss Rose during the early noughties.

Born in February 1967, Kevin Keen had football in his blood from day one. His father Mike was a successful midfielder in the 1960's and 1970's - captaining QPR to League Cup and Third Division glory.

Growing up in and around the game, Kevin watched his dad as a player and then as manager at Watford, Northampton and Wycombe. It was during Mike’s four years as manager at Wycombe that Kevin was handed his first playing opportunity.

Aged just 15 years and 206 days old, Kevin made his debut for The Chairboys in 1982 and still holds the record for the youngest ever player to turn out for the club. After just three appearances, Kevin caught the eye of West Ham United and was offered an apprenticeship in 1983.

During his first year with West Ham, Kevin was selected for both England Schoolboys and England Youth sides, before signing his first professional contract with The Hammers in 1984 - aged 19.

A slightly-built, mercurial winger, he initially struggled to win over the Upton Park crowd.

“I always gave my best and tried to play football the West Ham way” he said in 2004. “But I think they thought of me as being a bit of a softy!”

Sticking with West Ham turned out to be the right decision however. In ten years wearing claret and blue, Kevin scored twenty-one times in two hundred and nineteen league appearances, gaining a runners up medal for Hammer of the Year in 1993.

The final game of the 1992/93 season, when West Ham beat Cambridge 2 - 0 to gain promotion to the Premier League turned out to be Kevin’s final game for The Hammers and he was subsequently sold to Wolves for £600,000.

After just one season with Wolves he moved on again - this time to Stoke City in October 1994. Slotting into a struggling Stoke side, Kevin often proved to be a bright spark in a dismal period for The Potters. Losing out to Leicester in the 1995/96 Play-Offs, Stoke then made the move to The Britannia Stadium - yet were relegated to Division Two in 1998.

Kevin spent two further seasons with Stoke - helping them to another Play-Off Final, as well as lifting the Football League Trophy in 2000.

After six years with The Potters, Kevin made the move to Macclesfield in September 2000. At 33-years-old he was looking to wind down his career on the pitch, but it certainly didn’t show as he formed an effective partnership with Chris Priest in our midfield.

The following season saw Kevin make his 600th senior career appearance, in a campaign which also saw him experience his first taste of management.

In December 2000, shortly after Kevin arrived at Macc, Gil Prescott took over the management reigns. Gil was Director of Football for The Silkmen at the time and after less than a year in charge, decided to return to that role in late 2001.

While the club searched for a replacement, Kevin stepped up to the helm. In charge for seven matches between October and November 2001, he won just one game and drew another before handing the reins over to the newly appointed David Moss. His short period in charge obviously sparked an interest, and following his final game as a player (an away win at Hartlepool), he hung up his boots in anticipation of a move into coaching and management.

Kevin returned to West Ham in 2002, initially as the Under 17s Academy Coach. Progression through the ranks followed, with a step up to the Reserve Team and then to the First Team over the following four years. He was then thrust into the top job in December 2006 when Alan Pardew was sacked - the appointment was to only last two days however, but was the first of three stints as caretaker-boss of The Hammers.

The second was to come two years later. Alan Curbishley resigned and Kevin took charge of the team for one game - a 3-2 defeat to West Brom. One further game as manager beckoned as he took over the already relegated team on the final day of the 2010/11 season - as they suffered a 3-0 loss at the hands of Sunderland.

Although tipped for the vacant manager's position at West Ham, Kevin moved to Liverpool in order to concentrate on his coaching. While at Anfield he worked with some of the game's most illustrious players, including Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez - as well as learning from Liverpool legend Kenny Dalglish.

As is often the case in football, Kevin spent the next few years moving from club to club as managers changed and the backroom staff were replaced each time. He continued to make his mark though, spending time with West Brom (where he spotted a then 19-year-old Romelu Lukaku) and Fulham.

His first official appointment as manager came at Colchester United, who he joined on 21 December 2015. Struggling in League One at the time, Kevin lead a slight upturn in fortune, but failed to save them from relegation and left by mutual consent at the end of the 2015/16 season.

A year as First Team Coach at Crystal Palace followed, before he was appointed assistant to Chris Powell at Southend United in February last year.

Although only in charge of Macc for a very short period, it obviously gave Kevin his first taste of the other side of football - launching a successful coaching career on his departure.

Only time will tell whether this translates into management, but his contribution to The Silkmen cause during the early noughties has earned him a rightful place in our A to Z.

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