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Kevin Keelan

Norwich Career: 1963-1980 (673 appearances)
Current Club: Retired
Date of Birth: 05/01/1941 
Nationality: English


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 published in November 1979.
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 testimonial.
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 per game.
Note: this discrepancy in games played is due to an abandoned League Cup tie against Chelsea in 1972/73 and 7 Anglo-Scottish Cup games.

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

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All statistics on this site are accurate as of end of 2011/12 season
This page on Flown From The Nest was last updated on and is © Steve Whitlam 1997-2013.
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