Mighty Mac: Steve McManaman
From Liverpool to Madrid to Manchester City, Steve McManaman was one of the most famous footballers of the 1990s, and a member of the infamous Spice Boys
One of the few English players in recent memory to up sticks and go abroad rather than stick to the Premier League, this week's Mighty Mac is none other than Merseyside's Steve McManaman.
At age 16, McManaman very nearly signed for Everton, the club he supported as a boy, before joining their rivals over in Anfield because they were offering him a longer contract. This was, of course merely a prelude to his time as a Manchester City legend, but more on that later.
He quickly made a name for himself in the youth team there, and it wasn't long before he was playng first team football for Liverpool. He had incredible pace, but more importantly, he was technically gifted on both feet, with a dribbling style that, despite moving very quickly, never saw him move the ball very far from his feet.
His first goal came against the club who he would later play for, in the shape of Manchester City, but there were many more to come after that, both for Liverpool and Real Madrid. For a few seasons before he eventually made that move on a free transfer, there had been bids from some of Europe's biggest names, including Barcelona and Juventus, to take the prized winger away from England, and it's clear to see why.
Part of the Spice Boys (not named after their love of spice burgers, unfortunately), he will always be remembered in England for his time wearing a cream suit to the FA Cup final with Liverpool as part of that gang. They received a huge amount of attention from the tabloid press for their off the field antics, which wasn't a huge problem until on the field, performances started to slip. Still, it was a brave style statement to wear the suits anyway.
When he did finally make the move to Madird, there were fears that McManaman wouldn't be able to cut it in the Spanish league, and would simply be a bit part player despite clearly being technically gifted, but those proved to be unfounded. His mazy runs continued, his ability to find space and produce a final ball was never in question, and he also had a penchant for getting the odd brilliant volley. He even grabbed a pretty important one in the Champions League final too, which was pretty good.
Not only that, but he took to life abroad and even learned plenty of Spanish. If you don't believe us, have a look at this interview from two seasons ago where he's having top bantz fluently, not a bother on him.
His haul of personal medals and trophies speaks volumes about his ability as a player, and the fact that he not only moved to Madrid, but was very highly valued there as a player for the team is also impressive. In total, he made over 350 appearances for Liverpool, and registered a hugely impressive 142 assists and 66 goals, as well as winning two La Liga titles and the Champions League at his time in Madrid. He rounded out his career with a stint at Manchester City, and though injury and the rise of a good crop of youth talent saw him fall down the pecking order, some players like Joey Barton and Stephen Ireland claim he was a hugely important figure at the club who helped them to push on to a different level.
Still remembered fondly both in Liverpool as well as Spain, he is perhaps best summed up by the World Cup-winning coach Vicente Del Bosque, who stated that the Merseyside man was one of the most important players he had during his time in charge of Real, as he kept the whole team together.
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