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Steven "Macca" McManaman (born 11 February 1972) is a retired Englishmarker footballer who played as a midfielder and winger. His career included spells at two of European football's most successful clubs: Liverpool and Real Madrid.

He is the most decorated English footballer to have played at any foreign club in terms of trophies won overseas. He was the first Britishmarker player to win the UEFA Champions League title twice, and was also the first English footballer to win the Champions League with a non-English club.

In 2008, he was ranked as third in a Top 10 of greatest British footballers to play overseas, just behind Kevin Keegan and John Charles.

After his retirement as a player in 2005, he became a football pundit for Setanta Sports and was an associate producer on the film Goal! 2.

Club career

Liverpool

Early days

McManaman grew up as an Everton supporter, but signed for Liverpool as an apprentice upon leaving school in 1988. He signed as a professional on 19 February 1990 in what was to be Kenny Dalglish's final season as manager, eight days after McManaman's 18th birthday. He made his Liverpool debut as a substitute in the Football League First Division on 15 December 1990, in a 2–0 league win over Sheffield United at Anfieldmarker, and scored his first ever professional goal with a diving header the following season on 21 August 1991 in the 2 – 1 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Roadmarker.

Under new coach Graeme Souness, McManaman created and scored several crucial goals in the FA Cup, and his performances in that first season established him as a regular first team player. He collected a winner's medal in the 1992 FA Cup Final as Liverpool triumphed 2–0 against Sunderland and was named as the man of the match having set up the winner for Michael Thomas. He also featured heavily in their run to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. It was at this time that McManaman was described by Ian Rush as the most promising young player at Liverpool.

Although McManaman had a couple of quieter seasons with the advent of the Premier League, he continued to develop a reputation as one of English Football's two wing wizards, alongside Ryan Giggs of Manchester United, with both players known to "embarrass defences with their mazy runs, which too often lack the finishing touch they deserve" . In 1993–94, McManaman showed fine form with two goals against Swindon Town and some assists including a spectacular run and assist against Tottenham Hotspur. However this form faltered after an incident with Bruce Grobbelaar towards the end of a Merseyside derby, when the players exchanged blows after Grobelaar lambasted McManaman for a poor clearance which led to a goal being conceded - an incident recently named as one of the top five bust ups between team mates in Premier League history.

In 1994–95, McManaman got a new million pound contract, and was given a central, freer role by new coach Roy Evans. That season he collected a League Cup winner's medal after scoring twice in his side's 2–1 win over Bolton. For his second Wembleymarker final appearance in succession he was awarded man of the match and earned a tribute from guest of honour, Stanley Matthews; one of the greatest wingers of previous generations, who exclaimed in the final: "I wish there are more dribblers like him."

By the end of 1995–96, McManaman was top of the goal assists charts in the FA Premier League with 25 assists over the season, including assists and a man of the match award in a 4–3 victory over Newcastle United, a match voted the best of the decade in a Premier League poll known as the Ten Seasons Awards. By now, McManaman was ranked as one of the finest midfielders in English football, and had developed a strong reputation on the European stage following UEFA Euro 1996.

McManaman was said to have been one of only a handful of players along with Eric Cantona and Gianfranco Zola in the league at the time known to have the panache to lift supporters from their seats each time he got the ball and managers would deploy a man-marker specifically to follow him for an entire game Then Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, was quoted at the time as saying that "everyone in the Premiership knows that if you stop McManaman, you stop Liverpool."

Changing times

However, things started to turn sour for McManaman and some of his team-mates. As their fame increased, tabloid newspaper stories of lad culture excesses emerged and this, fused with underachievement on the pitch, brought criticism in the media. Defeat to Alex Ferguson's Manchester United in the 1996 FA Cup Final, a game where the Liverpool team arrived to inspect the pitch wearing cream coloured Armani suits intensified the criticism. McManaman, Jamie Redknapp, David James, Jason McAteer, Stan Collymore, and Robbie Fowler were reported to have cashed in on their new found fame as stars of the nascent FA Premier League, to live a high life involving groupies, clubbing and other "high jinks". Modelling contracts and deals with fashion labels like Top Man, Hugo Boss and Armani, culminated in their collective nickname: 'The Spice Boys.' The situation was further aggravated by stories of McManaman and Fowler's lifestyles off the pitch following an interview with the magazine, Loaded, which depicted the duo as hedonists and scally characters. McManaman responded by becoming the first footballer of his generation to write a weekly column (in The Times), although this did not entirely halt the negative tabloid stories.

Labels aside, McManaman was also criticised for scoring too few goals, although he did make up for this with a formidable rate of assists for the likes of Robbie Fowler and later, Michael Owen, with Fowler regarding McManaman as the best player he ever played alongside. The few goals that McManaman did score tended to be spectacular or memorable - most notably an injury time solo goal against Celtic in the UEFA Cup, when McManaman scored against the 'Bhoys' after a 75 yard dribble. Other outstanding goals during his Liverpool career included goals against Aston Villa, Newscastle United and scoring the winner in a match against Arsenal with a stunning volley, after which he won a PFA Player of the Month award in December 1997.

Prior to the start of the 1997–98 season, Liverpool received various bids for McManaman. Having initially rebuffed all approaches, Liverpool's board of directors, at the time including David Moores, decided that continually rejecting those bids was risky given the possibility of McManaman allowing his contract to expire and leaving on a "Bosman" transfer for nothing, and so eventually accepted a lucrative offer of £12.5 million in August 1997 from FC Barcelona. The board hoped that the club record transfer fee would help in justifying the move to the fans, many of whom viewed McManaman as the linchpin and playmaker of the side at the time. However the deal fell through, with the player's excessive wage demands being blamed for the collapse, although it was felt in some quarters that McManaman had simply been a pawn in Barcelona's negotiations to acquire Rivaldo.

Liverpool's hopes of retaining the player were not helped by the position of the club at the time, with McManaman and the rest of the Liverpool team being labelled as 'nearly men' in three title races, having failed to unseat their bitter rivals, Manchester United, as England's top club side of the 1990s. That lingering failure meant inevitable changes at the club, and in November 1998, Liverpool appointed Gérard Houllier as the new manager. Houllier was widely believed to want to get rid of the "Spice Boys" mentality and cavalier attitudes at the club and many players were told they were surplus to requirements including Phil Babb, Rob Jones, Stig Bjornebye and Paul Ince.

Departure

Despite having been named Liverpool captain at the start of the 1998–99 season, McManaman seized the opportunity to announce his desire to play abroad. By this time, numerous European clubs were circling the soon-to-be free agent with Juventus or Real Madrid appearing the player's most likely destination. It was announced in January 1999 that McManaman was talking to Real Madrid, he told The Independent: "It was such a tough decision because I have been [at Liverpool] 12 years, but I have always stated that I wanted to play in Europe at some stage. At 27, now is the right time. Real Madrid are the European and world champions and this is a chance to test myself in a top European league."

McManaman also said that he had received advice from Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, and Chris Waddle, all of whom, he told an interview on ESPN in 2004, "spoke very highly of [playing abroad]." In early January 1999, McManaman's agent Simon Fuller of 19 Management announced that he would be flying over to Spain at the end of the month, and by 30 January 1999, McManaman passed a medical and signed an official pre-contract with Real Madrid. In what was a highly publicised affair covered by the world media, the BBC described it as a 'Spanish jackpot', stating that he would become "the best-paid British footballer of all time", while The Times described it as "English football's worst kept secret."

Following the announcement, McManaman still had five months left on his contract at Liverpool and in his final games for the club in 1998–99, he turned in mixed performances. His form dipped at times, arguably due to a combination of injuries, being restricted to substitute appearances (as Houllier wanted to cut the side's dependency on his gameplay), and loss of confidence in certain games where even the Liverpool fans turned against him over the contract debacle. Nonetheless, McManaman still scored several important goals towards the end of the campaign, including the winning goal from outside the area with a half volley to complete the full turn around result against Tottenham Hotspur, after trailing 2 – 0 at half time. In fitting fashion, in what was the final match of the season, and what would be McManaman's final match and final contribution on the pitch for the club, McManaman assisted Karl-Heinz Riedle with a goal at the Kop with a trademark right wing run and pull back as Liverpool won 3–0 against Wimbledon, enabling McManaman to end his career at the club to a standing ovation.

In spite of the side only winning two trophies during his time with Liverpool, McManaman's achievements at the club were exceptional for a player in a side often labelled negatively. McManaman was named in the PFA Team of the Year for four consecutive seasons from from 1994–95 to 1997–98, and was in the five man shortlist for PFA Player of the Year for three seasons from 1995–96 to 1997–98, with the PFA website describing him as one of the most gifted players of his generation. For a time he held the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances as an ever present at Liverpool for four seasons, a club record for Most Appearances, and at the time of leaving the Premiership had the second highest ratio of Premier League assists per game, with 112 assists in 274 appearances. As of 2009, McManaman still holds 12th position on the Premiership's All Time Assists charts. McManaman also holds the record for greatest number of assists in Liverpool history, just ahead of Steven Gerrard. On 5 September 2006, Steve McManaman was named #22 in the official Liverpool website's "100 Players Who Shook The Kop" list, and despite fans' disappointment with his departure, many Liverpool fans still regard McManaman (along with Fowler) as the two players who carried Liverpool through the 1990s.

Real Madrid

On 1 July 1999, after 364 appearances and 66 goals for Liverpool, McManaman transferred to Real Madrid (then under coach Guus Hiddink and president Lorenzo Sanz). There, he became only the second English player to ever play for the club, after Laurie Cunningham had played for them in the 1980s. He was also the most high profile English footballer to move to Spanish football since Gary Lineker had moved to FC Barcelona from Everton in 1986. Thereafter he proved an instant hit with the fans at the Santiago Bernabéu stadiummarker after scoring three times and creating several goals in his first few games for Los Merengues.

McManaman made his debut for Madrid on the 22 August 1999 in the 2–1 La Liga win over RCD Mallorca at the Son Moixmarker stadium, Mallorcamarker, where he assisted Fernando Morientes in scoring the injury time winner. He scored his first goal for the club a week later on the 29 August in the 4–1 thumping of Numancia at the Bernabéumarker.

McManaman then established himself in the team that went all the way to the Champions League Final in 2000, under new coach Vicente del Bosque, who had replaced John Toshack. It was at this European Cup Final at the Stade de Francemarker in Parismarker that McManaman experienced his finest hour as a player – scoring a spectacular volley in a 3–0 victory over fellow Spanish side Valencia. His performance on this greatest of club football stages saw him hailed the man of the match by the English press, a view endorsed by his Madrid team-mate Ivan Helguera. His part in Madrid's eighth European Cup win saw him become the first English player ever to win Europe's premier club competition with a foreign club.

Despite that European Cup Final performance and having established himself as a valuable player in his first year in Madrid, the arrival of a new President in Florentino Pérez, closely followed by former Barcelona superstar midfielder Luís Figo, McManaman was suddenly told he was surplus to requirements before the start of the 2000-01 season and was put up for sale. Manager Del Bosque told McManaman that he had “little chance of playing this year,” and in case he didn't understand his position, the club also declined to give him a squad number for the forthcoming season. With the club already in debt, and having just spent another £37m on Figo, the board were keen to cash in on McManaman and remove his $4.5m salary from the wage bill. McManaman, however, with an iron-clad contract until 2004, declined to leave and instead stated his determination to win back his place in the team.

Real Madrid subsequently accepted first an £11 million bid from Middlesbrough and then a £12 million bid for McManaman from Chelsea that included the exchange of Tore André Flo, in the summer of 2000, both of which the player stubbornly rejected. His stance was rewarded when Real relented and he made his first appearance of the 2000–01 season as a substitute in a 3–3 draw against Málaga in September. McManaman reportedly won over the manager by October, and managed to feature in two thirds of the club's matches, becoming a first team automatic for the second half of the campaign, and held the unique distinction of being described as the only top class football player from England playing overseas at the time. McManaman subsequently shone in his second season at Madrid as his club side challenged for the La Liga title, and won it by a seven point margin over the previous seasons champions, Deportivo La Coruña.

However, McManaman increasingly saw his playing time reduced each year, as the club continued their well known Galáctico policy, with worldclass names like Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane, and Ronaldo arriving each year and standing above him in the pecking order. At the time though, McManaman was known for his dogged determination to stay positive for the club's cause, even if it meant he had less playing time. McManaman also turned down a transfer to Internazionale at the time when he was made available for exchange as part of Ronaldo's signing. It was widely reported in the Spanish media that McManaman's resilience to the team won the respect of his fellow professionals like Raúl, Zidane, Guti, Iván Helguera, and his two best friends at the club, Figo and Ronaldo, who backed him publicly on several occasions in press interviews. McManaman was also twice voted as the Real Madrid supporters' favourite player at the club during his tenure, and according to El País, in 2001, fans saluted him with their 'white handkerchiefs' (as a terrace favourite) after he acrobatically scored a 'wonder goal' against Real Oviedo that year.

Eventually, the Board, including Florentino Pérez relented, declaring that a "man like that would always have a place in my club". Arguably his second greatest moment in the white of Madrid came in the 2002 UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona at the Camp Noumarker on 23 April 2002. In this match of monumental proportions, due to "El Classico" being a massive game in its own right, but also the fact that it was a Champions League Semi-final, McManaman appeared as a second half substitute to score a critical goal in second half injury time to secure a 2-0 first-leg advantage, cooly chipping over goalkeeper Roberto Bonano after being played in by Zindedine Zidane, who had scored the first goal on 55 minutes. This victory helped secure their place in the final of the 2002 Champions League at Hampden Parkmarker, Glasgowmarker, where he came on as a replacement for Figo – and thereby ensuring his second Champions League winners' medal, after Madrid secured a 2-1 victory over German team Bayer Leverkusen.

According to certain critics in the Spanish press, McManaman and several other players became "victims" as the policy was based more on marketing and revenue generation, and sometimes meant players were picked not according to form, but because of their money-making potential off the pitch. To his credit, McManaman never spoke ill of the Galáctico policy's effects on him during his tenure, only critiquing the policy and ultimately describing it in his autobiography in 2004 as the "Disneyfication of Real Madrid" upon his departure from the club; a piece of foresight that proved telling for the future as the club never reached its heights in the period ensuing with the policy, and with the term becoming somewhat pejorative to this day.

It was McManaman's fourth season that really raised doubts, after only playing 21 games of which he started only 9 times, and making a meagre 15 appearances in La Liga, questions arose about his ability and reasons for staying in Spain considering his diminished role, lack of first team action and international attention. Suggestions that McManaman had "sold out" for money and had grown indifferent and lackadaisical to his football were rampant in the British Press, who were described as suffering from "a selective media amnesia over McManaman’s time in Spain."

According to Forbes Magazine in 2001, McManaman was listed as 6th on the list of highest earning footballers in the world, and is believed to have pocketed an estimated 15 million Euros (just under £10,250,000) in his four years with Madrid. On top of the financial rewards, McManaman also became the most successful English football export to ever play overseas.

Manchester City

The signing of fellow Englishman David Beckham proved the last straw in eventually forcing McManaman down the pecking order at Real Madrid. In 2003, along with teammates Claude Makélélé, Fernando Hierro and later Fernando Morientes, McManaman headed back to the English Premier League. Initially reported to be joining either Arsenal or Everton, McManaman eventually decided to join long-time admirer Kevin Keegan on the 30 August at Manchester City, resulting in a reunion with several ex-colleagues including Robbie Fowler, Nicolas Anelka, and later, David James.

He made his debut on 14 September 2003 in a 4–1 win over Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadiummarker. Unfortunately, McManaman's time at City was ultimately a disappointment. A combination of niggling injuries, and the rise of an in-form and up-and-coming Shaun Wright-Phillips saw him lose his preferred right midfield position. When McManaman did play, he failed to rediscover his old form and speed, only occasionally demonstrating the ability he had shown in his earlier career. Part of the problem stemmed from the fact that in order to find a role at Madrid he had changed his playing style, cutting down on the flair play (as Madrid had a surfeit of flair players) and instead focusing on being a holding player and making short, simple passes of the ball in central midfield. He was often left to play a mere token leadership role to the new batch of young talent, a role which McManaman was arguably unable to excel in, and which resulted in criticism from fans for being "all talk and not enough action", although youngsters Wright-Phillips and Lee Croft did cite McManaman as a major motivating influence on them.

Off the field at City, Fowler and McManaman were caught up in a sex scandal that appeared in the News of the World following a failed attempt by the pair to gain an injunction to prevent publication. The court case served only to exacerbate their situations and affected their reputations off and on the pitch at the club.

In 2005, McManaman was linked to the New Yorkmarker/New Jerseymarker Metrostars, who confirmed that they club were interested in the player. However they eventually decided to relinquish their bid stating that "MLS clubs were keen to lose the reputation that top stars only arrive to play in America for a final swansong in their careers" Nonetheless, McManaman played for City for only two seasons and following Kevin Keegan's resignation in March 2005, never played another game for the club. Keegan's replacement, Stuart Pearce, released McManaman on a free transfer on 20 May.

International career

McManaman made history by becoming the first player without first team experience to play for the England Under-21 team, being handed a debut call-up by Lawrie McMenemy against Walesmarker at Tranmeremarker in October 1990, two months before he debuted for the Liverpool first-team. In February 1993, McManaman captained the England Under-21 side for the first time against San Marinomarker and scored the last goal in a convincing 6-0 win.

Terry Venables gave McManaman his full England debut on the 16 November 1994 in an international friendly with Nigeria at Wembley, McManaman coming on as a replacement for Newcastle United's Robert Lee. He would have to wait a further 5 years before scoring his first international goal, when he scored twice on the 4 September 1999 in the 6-0 Euro 2000 qualifier victory over Luxembourg, again, at Wembley.

For England, McManaman would forever remain an enigma at international level. England coaches, with the exception of Venables, utilised McManaman's talents sparingly. McManaman struggled to repeat his fine club form with his country, drawing comparisons to his mentor at Liverpool, John Barnes. However, he managed to string together a series of splendid match winning performances for his country in Euro 96, earning praise from even Pelé, who according to the BBC, touted him as the tournament's best player and said he was the player he "was most impressed" by going on to say that he could be the "best in the world", a tag that McManaman later admitted that he could not live up to. Together with team mates David Seaman and Alan Shearer, McManaman was also listed in the official Team of the Tournament.

McManaman made only one appearance at the 1998 FIFA World Cup under Glenn Hoddle and once more in Euro 2000 under Kevin Keegan, where he scored the last of his three England goals in a game against Portugal. The last of his caps came in 2001 when Sven-Göran Eriksson utilised him for his first games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, but then apparently left a message on McManaman's answering machine to inform him that he was not going to be in the final 2002 FIFA World Cup England squad, despite the pleas of Zidane and Fernando Hierro for McManaman's case; an omission McManaman claimed he never understood. Many fans and media critics believe McManaman's non-fruition at International level was a combination of a failure by managers to find an effective position for him and despite being a right footed player he was often placed on England's problematic left-side at the time, although Kevin Keegan's attempts to give him a 'free role' also ended in failure. McManaman was once described as "England's forgotten man" but was also accused of being apathetic and laidback (he and Fowler opted out of Le Tournoi under Hoddle in 1997) when it came to England's games. After coming on as a substitute when England famously beat Germany 5-1 in the Olympiastadionmarker, it was ultimately McManaman's inept display against Albaniamarker that saw him banished from Eriksson's team, as that was his final full game; making just one substitute appearance after that in the critical qualifier against Greecemarker in 2001. Later that year, he did himself no favours by "choosing not to play" in the game against Swedenmarker by calling the FA to have himself dropped from the squad. McManaman was capped 37 times for England scoring three goals, and with the side only losing three times in the games that he played; one of which was the penalty shootout defeat in 1996.

Retirement and current

McManaman retired from his playing career after being released by Manchester City in 2005. He went on to become active as a freelance media commentator and pundit, providing analysis to ITV for the 2005 Champions League Final, and for ESPN Star in Singaporemarker in 2006.

In October 2006, McManaman played in a charity match for Liverpool Legends against Celtic Legends. That year, he also went on to join production for the film,Goal! 2, the sequel to Goal!, a movie. By the time of the film's release in 2007, McManaman had also become an Associate Producer of the film, and appears in the film as one of the coaching staff.

In July 2007, McManaman was named executive director of Carson Yeung's Hong Kongmarker-listed company Grandtop International Holdings Ltd, which subsequently took a 29.9% stake in Premier League side Birmingham City, to the ire of then owner and porn baron, David Sullivan, who later would get into a corporate scandal at the club that allowed Carson Yeung to get full control of Birmingham. McManaman also got involved with corporate dealings in Hong Kong with companies like Sure Trace Inc, which was setup by hardcore gay pornography boss James McKay, who transferred 2/3 of the company to him. The company made news for wrong reasons as Sure Trace had made a number of major contract announcements which had not become actual, revenue-generating contracts and was delisted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The company then setup True Product ID as a company to conduct technology joint ventures in China and the company was transferred to McManaman. To protect investors, the SEC suspended Sure Trace Security in August 2005, citing the accuracy of public information regarding its technology sales

2007 also saw McManaman join Setanta Sports as a football analyst and, until the beginning of the 2008/09 season, he hosted a television show, "Macca's Monday Night", reflecting on life in the Barclays Premier League. On the show he was joined by Neil Warnock, the former Sheffield United manager, James Richardson, Emmanuel Petit, Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand. The show was finally axed in favour of "Football Matters", a live late Monday-night discussion show hosted by James Richardson and Rebecca Lowe.

In June 2008, McManaman participated in Steve Nash and Claudio Reyna's Showdown in Chinatown, an 8-on-8 charity soccer game at Sara D.marker Roosevelt Parkmarker. Nash scored two goals in his team's 8–5 victory, which included McManaman scoring one goal and making five of the goals in a team including Thierry Henry, Robbie Fowler, Jason Kidd, Baron Davis, and Suns teammates Raja Bell and Leandro Barbosa.

In January 2009, McManaman gave a press interview where he revealed his intention to go into management. "I’m still thinking of getting back into the game and hopefully I will do my coaching badges at some point this year...It is going to be hard, though. There seems to be far less jobs available for the younger guys. Paul Ince, Roy Keane, Tony Adams – it seems as if people have got it in for them. It’s becoming a bit less attractive...If I do get back in, I don’t want to be a coach...I want to be a manager, but that’s easier said than done...I want to be able to pick the team, make the decisions and everything that goes with it. That said, I can’t do anything without my badges," he told the Liverpool Echo.

In August 2009, Carson Yeung confirmed that once his proposed take-over of Birmingham City went through, a role at St. Andrews would be given to McManaman, although he did not specify what role that would be.

Personal life

Together with Robbie Fowler, McManaman has invested in several racehorses through a company named The Macca and Growler Partnership, their most prolific horse being Seebald, winner of 2003 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase.

McManaman married his long time girlfriend Victoria Edwards, a Barrister/Law lecturer, on Saturday 6 June 2002, in Mallorcamarker's Palma Cathedralmarker. Victoria gave birth to their daughter Ella in 2006. The family divide their time between homes in Bay of Palma and Londonmarker and a new home in Cheshiremarker.

Honours

All-Time Club Performance
Country Club Season Domestic League Domestic Cup Europe Other Total
Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists Apps Goals Assists
Liverpool 1989–99 274 46 112 59 15 20 31 5 10 0 0 0 364 66 142
Real Madrid 1999–03 94 8 20 15 1 2 43 5 11 5 0 0 157 14 33
Manchester City 2003–05 35 0 6 5 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 44 0 7
Career Totals 403 54 138 80 16 22 78 10 22 5 0 0 579 80 182


Liverpool


Real Madrid


Further reading



References

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