Kevin Keelan is
undeniably one of Norwich City's legends. A first choice keeper
from 1963 through to 1980, Kevin made 673 first team appearances
in goal for Norwich City. This tally consists of 571 league appearances,
32 FA Cup ties, 57 League Cup matches and 14 competitive others.
It is most unlikely that Norwich will ever again see such commitment
and longevity from its goalkeeper, let alone any other player. Much
of the following history comes from an article by Philip Webster,
of The Times
. The article was published in Kevin's retirement
match against an All Star XI on 25th November 1980, a match that
I had the honour of attending. Webster was the author of Keelan's
biography Keelan: the story of a goalkeeper
- Born in Calcutta, India where his father is stationed with
the British Army
- Family returns to England and set up home in Kidderminster
- Signs for Kidderminster Harriers and plays for their youth
team as a left winger !. Takes over in goal when the keeper
fails to turn up and the rest is history,
- Has a trial with Aston Villa's fourth team. Becomes a full
time professional in July 1958 and plays for the Reserves.
- Makes his league debut at Middlesbrough when the first
choice Villa keeper Nigel Sims is injured. Villa win 1-0.
- A disastrous match at Leicester in a rare first team match
results in Kevin being released by Villa. Has a trial with
Stockport County (3 games) before joining Kidderminster Harriers.
- Returns to league football with Wrexham and assists them
in promotion to Division Three.
- Signs for Norwich for 6500 in a transfer described by City
manager Ron Ashman as "the bargain of the century". Makes
his debut on 24th August at Cardiff City.
- Sent off for striking Tommy Robson of Northampton
- Breaks an arm and misses 10 matches.
- Is ever present in the City side that wins promotion to
the top flight for the first time. On November 8th 1972, Kevin
plays his 350th game for the Canaries.
- Norwich reach the League Cup final but lose 1-0 to Tottenham.
Kevin is voted Player of the Year. John Bond takes over in
November 1973 and assures Kevin that he has an important role
to play in his City side. On Boxing Day, he overtakes Ken
Nethercott's 416 game record as longest serving City keeper.
- Player of the Year again despite being relegated to Division
Two, Testimonial match against Ipswich Town.
- City return to Division One at first attempt. They return
to Wembley only to lose to Villa from Ray Graydon's penalty
rebound. Makes 500th appearance for City.
- Goes into local business with Kevin Keelan and Co builders.
- Dropped for the first time but regains his place in time
for the 1977-78 season. Makes 600th appearance for City on
October 5th and plays for England XI in Trevor Brooking's
- Has a fine season but it is cut short when he breaks a
hand at Bristol City in February after 5 minutes of play but
completes game. Joins New England Teaman for the summer season.
- Breaks a finger in February in a 6-0 defeat at Liverpool.
As Roger Hansbury establishes himself
as City's first choice, Kevin signs for the New England Teaman
permanently but with a loan arrangement to return to Carrow
Road during the English soccer season. Hansbury breaks leg
in pre-season training and Kevin returns as first choice keeper.
On October 27th, he equals Ron Ashman's record 662 first team
appearances which is broken in a goalless draw at West Brom
on October 31st.
- Plays final game for Canaries against Liverpool at Carrow
Road. Returns to the USA. Is awarded the MBE for services
to Norwich City. Has a retirement match( 2nd testimonial)
against an All Star XI .
Joins the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Kevin's retirement match provided the following details about
his Norwich City career:
Games played per tournament and number of goals conceded.
- Football League Division One
- 238 games, 354 goals conceded
- Football League Division Two
- 333 games, 400 goals conceded
- FA Cup
- 31 games, 54 goals conceded
- League Cup
- 58 games, 65 goal conceded
- Texaco Cup
- 14 games, 23 goals conceded
- Anglo-Scottish Cup
- 7 games, 10 goals conceded
681 games, 906 goals conceded. An average of 1.33 goals
Note: this discrepancy in games played is due to an abandoned
League Cup tie against Chelsea in 1972/73 and 7 Anglo-Scottish
Kevin was later goalkeeping coach for the Tampa Bay
Rowdies of the USA's Major League Soccer. Now retired,
he has had a construction business in Florida but has
more recently been a contact lens salesman. He continues
to coach at University of tampa, Tampa Prepatory School
and Florida Soccer Club