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Famous Like Me > Footballer > M > Steve McManaman

Profile of Steve McManaman on Famous Like Me

Name: Steve McManaman  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 11th February 1972
Place of Birth: Liverpool
Profession: Footballer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia
Steve McManaman

Steve McManaman (born February 11, 1972 in Liverpool) is an English footballer, who plays as a midfielder. A vastly experienced player after a career that spanned two of World Football's biggest club sides in Liverpool, and Real Madrid, a documentary on ESPN in 2004 stated that McManaman holds the coveted reputation of arguably being English football's most successful football export after an immensely successful time at the Spanish giants- a club FIFA also crowned as the Club of the 20th Century in 2000.

Nonetheless, albeit the fact that McManaman holds several records for being the only Englishman to have won several continental honours with a foreign club, McManaman is currently without a club after being released by his final contracted playing club since 2003, Manchester City on May 20, 2005 and seems likely to take the route of retirement in favour of media commentary and pundit work as was last reported by ITV media network, where he provided analyses for the 2005 Champions League Final. Retirement aside, McManaman also talked to ESPN about the fact that he was going to obtain his coaching badges, and hence, a foray as a coach or into football management in the future should not be ruled out as well. Despite all this however, doubtlessly, it is the scouser's exceptional decade-long career at his home town club -- English football giants Liverpool, that he will perhaps best be remembered for.

Kevin Keegan once commented that there were "few finer sights in world football than that of Steve McManaman dribbling the ball down the length of the pitch". It was that kind of accreditation that backed McManaman as he developed into the player reputed for his exceptional stamina and incredible pace when dribbling the football, and McManaman himself revealed in his autobiography of sorts released in 2004- the Sunday Times' "Book of the Year", published by Simon & Schuster, and titled El Macca: Four Years with Real Madrid- that he ran long distance as a youth and was educated at Merseyside's Campion High School – a school with a reputation for producing local footballers. Oddly enough, the book also talked about how McManaman was rejected by the club he supported as a boy – Everton, only to sign for Liverpool, who were the dominating force in the English game at the time and was managed by Kenny Dalglish. Dalglish apparently gave McManaman a free pair of boots when signing the youngster on professional forms after McManaman had been talent spotted by the late Jim Aspinall – the Liverpool scout who also went on to pick up the precocious young talents of Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard. The 6ft tall slim framed McManaman began his career at Liverpool in 1990, was touted as a future International talent at the age of 18 and interestingly, was picked for England Under-21 by Lawrie McMenemy even before he made his debut for his club.

Outside of football, according to an article by International Herald Tribune IHT's Rob Hughes, McManaman grew up a bright young lad in a home where "horses" were in his blood, where he was exceptionally close to his horse-punting Liverpool street bookmaker (gambling) grandfather and football-adoring father, who adored Alfredo Di Stefano and Real Madrid. The Official United Kingdom horse-racing website lists McManaman as one of the big British Celebrity National Hunt racing owners alongside fellow known acquaintances of his like Rod Stewart, Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Eddie Jordan and Vinnie Jones, citing McManaman's company, 'The Macca and Growler Partnership' and its most prolific horse, "Seebald". The horse, bought by McManaman and Robbie Fowler from bloodstock agent Graham Bradley, finished second in the 2002 Arkle Trophy and was famously trained by Martin Pipe and raced by ace jockey Tony McCoy as it went on to become the winner of the 2003 Queen Elizabeth the "Queen Mother Celebration Chase" as well as taking part in several Grand National races over the years. The extent of McManaman's horse infatuation came to light when he famously commented: "I'm a racehorse fanatic rather than a football fanatic," speaking via a telephone interview with BBC radio in 2002. "I'm even more nervous about Cheltenham Racecourse than I am about playing for Real Madrid. Its a different kind of buzz. When I play football, its more controlled; at horse racing I'm an outsider. You just have to hope they go well, really."

Steve McManaman: 'A thing of beauty' - Newsweek International Magazine April 1997

As a football player, throughout the 1990s, McManaman rose the ranks at Anfield and shot to fame not only as a constant in the team throughout the decade, but emerging as arguably the biggest star out of a largely unsuccessful era for Liverpool where the club won only an FA Cup in 1992 under Graeme Souness, and a League Cup in (1995) under Roy Evans. A tricky and skillfully pacy player whose laid back demeanour masked innate natural abilities in the game, McManaman won over Liverpool fans worldwide, being one of the only sparks in an abysmal period for the club. Early on in his career, he was given a leg up when injury crises at the club enabled him constant opportunities to coast into the first team. McManaman jumped at the chance and his performances in the 1991-92 season lit up the Kop as he formed a prolific partnership with both Dean Saunders, and Liverpool legend, Ian Rush. It was McManaman who scored several crucial goals en route to the 1992 FA Cup final before going on to Wembley to create the winning goal for Michael Thomas in only his first full season as a professional. McManaman also solidified his reputation in the next few years as one of the game's two best young wingers- the other being Manchester United's Ryan Giggs. In 1995, McManaman scored both goals in a man of the match display in the League Cup Final, often dubbed the McManaman Final, picking up the 'Alan Hardaker Trophy' and an individual commendation from Sir Stanley Matthews, the great "wizard of the dribble", with whom McManaman earnt strong comparisons to.

McManaman enigmatically struggled to repeat fine club form with England, drawing comparisons to his mentor at Liverpool, John Barnes, but managed to string a series of splendid match winning performances for his country under Terry Venables, in Euro 96, earning praise from even Pelé, who according to the BBC, touted him as the tournament's best player. Together with team mates David Seaman and Alan Shearer, McManaman was also listed in the official team of the tournament. McManaman blossomed even further in the years ahead and was an ever present for the next four seasons, playing some remarkable football for Liverpool as the playmaker of the team, winning three consecutive 'Player of the Year' awards at the club.

By 1997 and 1998, 'Macca', as he was affectionately known, was a household name and had a reputation continent wide as well as in Asia. His form echoed no less than world class, and he was linked to many top football clubs including Barcelona and Juventus. The former even made an official bid that involved McManaman flying out to meet them after Liverpool had agreed to sell him to the tune of 12.5 million pounds: what would have been a record transfer at the time; standing just behind Alan Shearer's record breaking million pound fee to Newcastle United in 1996. McManaman was arguably put up for sale because there was the risk of him allowing his contract to expire and leaving on a Bosman transfer for free, at a time when his estimated value was that of one of the top ten midfielders in European Football.

However, according to an article in the Far Eastern Economic Review by Stephen Thanabalan, along with Fowler, Jamie Redknapp, David James, Jason McAteer, Stan Collymore, and later Jamie Carragher, Paul Ince and Owen, what started out as an effectively positive affirmation of their talents as the 'hottest young Liverpool idols' since The Beatles, McManaman et al. was at the fore of a labelling culture that hung like an innuendo around the team of the 1990s. An unsavoury combination of fame and excesses emerged and was notoriously fused with an underachieving label on the professional football circuit where the whole shebang came to the fore in British tabloids in the 1996 FA Cup Final, where Liverpool were beaten by Alex Ferguson's Manchester United after Eric Cantona scored a late goal in a game where the Liverpool players like McManaman were sashaying around in cream colored Armani suits during the Pre-Cup Final reception. McManaman, Redknapp and James were reported to have cashed in on their newfound fame and good looks as stars of the nascent FA Premier League, exploiting their fame with modelling contracts and deals with fashion labels like Top Man, Hugo Boss and Armani, culminating in the players getting derogatorily labelled, the Spice Boys.

McManaman was not just labelled as such because of what was a collective culture at Liverpool, but more so because the lively and cheeky McManaman (and his best friend Fowler) had been no strangers to controversy when they already suffered tainted reputations for being photographed enjoying high jinks through some of their close associations with fellow controversial England colleagues such as Paul Gascoigne and Teddy Sheringham in the lead up to Euro 96. Much of these scarring rumoured excesses played out in the form of tabloid fodder and would continue to dog them for the rest of their careers, with the nature of these ranging from soap opera star girlfriends; fast cars; and drink claims all the way to the more controversial including: nightclub brawls; outrageous goal celebrations (miming the snorting of cocaine off a goal line in 1999; dentist chair celebrations at Euro 96); and a sordid sex 'roasting' session detailed by News of the World, in 2003. According to The Football Association's official website, Fowler was even humourously quoted as quipping: "Steve looked like a choirboy - but he wasn't."

Steve McManaman (Real Madrid) celebrates with Morientes and Savio after scoring on his debut vs Numancia at the Bernabeu August 1999

Wild card behaviour with Fowler aside, ironically, or rather concomitantly, it was in these years that McManaman was named as one of the sexiest persons on the planet by a top British Magazine, alongside George Clooney, Antonio Banderas and Leonardo DiCaprio, and McManaman famously did spreads for British magazines like Loaded, and The Face. McManaman also earned himself some pop avenue fame when it was publicly declared that he was the favourite player of one of the famous Spice Girls, Mel C, who, incidentally, was managed by McManaman's then sports agent, and subsequent Pop Idol and American Idol pioneer, Simon Fuller. There were always two sides to McManaman though and in 2002, The Guardian, wrote a piece on McManaman's intelligence, describing how he would have "waltzed into university" like his barrister fiance (they wed at the Palma Cathedral in Majorca that year) had he not played football, remarking that McManaman was one of the few footballers to give articulately intelligent interviews almost all the time.

Despite fame, or as some argued, as a result of too much of it, the underachievment tag in football hung around McManaman and the Liverpool team and remained ostensibly rampant under then Liverpool Manager Roy Evans, albeit the fact that until then, it was McManaman who starred as the lynchpin and playmaker of the team - the key distributor in whom the side had arguably been formulated around, producing some of the continent's best attacking football flair in the game at the time, with McManaman garnering most of the attention and also becoming reputed for being a scorer of spectacular albeit few goals- most notably an injury time solo dribble past an entire Celtic team in the UEFA Cup, with Aston Villa and Arsenal also familiar victims of his over the years.

Still, true to what many critics highlighted, McManaman, unlike his favourite player from childhood- Bob Latchford, was a poor goalscorer per se: yielding just 66 goals for Liverpool in 364 official appearances. In fact, it was his uncanny ability to conjure up huge numbers of goal assists that made him indispensable and earnt him placements in the PFA's Premiership XI of the Season rankings for several years running, as well as accolades like Match magazine's Mr.Consistent awards over the years.

Nonetheless, McManaman and the Liverpool team failed to replace Manchester United as England's No.1 club of the 1990s. They had played well but never enough to consistently see themselves through to Premier League title glory, proving to be 'nearly men' in the challenge for honours. That failure meant inevitable changes at the club, and in November 1998, Liverpool appointed Gerard Houllier as the new manager. McManaman despite the arrival of the new coach, or rather, arguably as a result of, decided nonetheless, in his opinion, to seize the opportunity to "pursue a desire to test himself abroad", after he admitted having gotten advice from Gascoigne, Ince and Chris Waddle, who in his words in an interview on ESPN in 2004, "spoke very highly of it".

Steve McManaman (Real Madrid) celebrates his UEFA Champions League Final goal with the trophy in 2000

McManaman denied any rumours initially but was eventually touted by Spanish football and in 1999, he made a highly publicised Bosman transfer to Spanish giants Real Madrid (then under Guus Hiddink), the club his father adored, albeit the fact that he nearly cancelled his move due to the passing away of his mother due to breast cancer. McManaman has famously campaigned for breast cancer awareness ever since. At Real Madrid, McManaman became only the second English player to ever play for the club at the time, after Laurie Cunningham in the 1980s, with McManaman also becoming the most high profile English footballer to move to Spanish football since Gary Lineker moved before the halcyon rise of the English FA Premiership. Thereafter, "El Macca" as he became known, proved an instant hit with the fans at the Bernabeu after scoring thrice and creating several goals in his first few games for 'Los Meringues'. McManaman's form effectively resulted in the transfer of Clarence Seedorf to A.C. Milan and McManaman then established himself as an essential cog in the team that went all the way to the Champions League Final in 2000, under new coach Vicente Del Bosque, who replaced John Toshack. It was at this European Cup Final at the Stade De France in Paris that McManaman experienced his finest hour as a player- scoring a spectacular volley to clinch victory for Real Madrid in a 3-0 victory, where he was also hailed as the Man of the Match in the press, and by dignitaries at the event like Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer. The Cup final goal was notable also because McManaman famously reserved his goal celebrations for the Real Madrid substitutes' bench and players like Christian Karembeu and Iván Campo. However, in his corresponding three seasons there, in what would be a recurring theme for McManaman, Il Dandy the Dancer as he was known there (thanks to his playing flair), ironically found himself 'benched' more often and saw his playing time reduced each year as competition for spots was fierce with the arrival of superstars in the form of Luis Figo in 2000, Zinedine Zidane in 2001, and Ronaldo in 2002. McManaman though, showed his resilience to the team and won the respect of his fellow professionals like Zidane, Raúl González, Guti and Iván Helguera, who backed him publicly alongside the Real Madrid supporters who, according to El País, in 2001, voted him with their 'white handkerchiefs' (a terrace favourite) after he scored another one of his memorable goals for the club against Real Oviedo. Eventually, the Board, including Florentino Perez relented, declaring that a "man like that would always have a place in my club". McManaman's jovial and easy-going, humble personality enabled him to assimilate into spanish culture and like another mentor of his, Michael Robinson, won over the Spanish press too, and often resulted in in him being photographed having a good time even with more illustrious teammates like Ronaldo, Figo and Roberto Carlos. An interview with Marca, in 2001 saw Figo pay McManaman the ultimate compliment of "genius", while Ronaldo was quoted by a Daily Telegraph reporter describing how McManaman and him (neighbours in the upmarket district that also had residents like Pedro Almodóvar) would have lots of fun together, with McManaman translating lyrics to his favourite songs by artists like Eminem.

Steve McManaman celebrates with his Real Madrid team mates Hierro, Solari, Morientes, Helguera

According to Forbes Magazine in 2000, McManaman was listed as 6th on the list of highest earning footballers in the world. McManaman is believed to have pocketed an estimated 15 million Euros in his four years in Madrid. On top of financial rewards, McManaman also became arguably the most successful English football export to ever play overseas as he helped Real Madrid to the Spanish title in 2001, the Intercontinental Cup in 2002, the Spanish Super Cup in 2001, a second Champions League title again in 2002 and another Spanish title in 2003 on top of the fact that he had played in another eight Cup Finals in his four year stint at Real Madrid.

However, the signing of fellow Englishman David Beckham in 2003 eventually forced McManaman down the pecking order at Real Madrid and in 2003, along with teammates Claude Makelele, Fernando Hierro and later Fernando Morientes, McManaman headed back to England, joining Manchester City, where he played for two seasons and suffered a torrent of abuse from his new club's supporters, who expected more from such a top player, eventually leaving after spending much of his time coming in and out of injuries, occasional 'handbags' with Gary Neville and dealing with speculation of his career as one that was 'over the hill'.

For England, McManaman will forever remain an enigma at international level, where England coaches with the exception of Terry Venables and Kevin Keegan, utilised McManaman's talents sparingly. McManaman made only one appearance at the 1998 World Cup and once more in Euro 2000, where he scored the last of his three goals for England in that one game against Portugal. The last of hist caps came in 2001 where Sven Goran Eriksson utilised him for his first games for the 2002 World Cup qulifiers, but apparently left a message on McManaman's answering machine to inform him that he was not going to be in the final 2002 World Cup England squad, despite the pleas of Zidane and Fernando Hierro for McManaman's case; an omission McManaman claimed he never understood. McManaman was capped 37 times for England.

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Steve McManaman