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McManaman in a memorial match for Liverpool in 2009
|Full name||Steven McManaman|
|Date of birth||11 February 1972|
|Place of birth||Kirkdale, Liverpool, England|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.|
† Appearances (Goals).
McManaman in a memorial match for Liverpool in 2009
|Full name||Steven McManaman|
|Date of birth||11 February 1972|
|Place of birth||Kirkdale, Liverpool, England|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|Playing position||Attacking midfielder|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only.|
† Appearances (Goals).
Steven "Steve" McManaman (born 11 February 1972) is an English former footballer who played as a midfielder, winger and playmaker for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester City. McManaman is the most decorated English footballer to have played abroad, with the UEFA website stating that "of all England's footballing exports in the modern era, none were as successful as McManaman." He is a regular pundit on BT Sport football coverage.
After nine years at Liverpool, during which time he won the FA Cup and League Cup, McManaman moved to Real Madrid in 1999. The transfer became one of the most controversial and high profile Bosman rulings of all time. He became the first English player to win the UEFA Champions League with a non-English club in 2000, and two years later became the first English player to win the Champions League twice. He also won La Liga twice before moving to Manchester City in 2003, and retiring from football in 2005. After his retirement he worked as a football pundit for Setanta Sports, ESPN and BT Sport. In 2008, he was ranked third in a Top 10 of the greatest British footballers to play overseas, just behind Kevin Keegan and John Charles.
McManaman grew up as an Everton supporter, but when Everton offered the player a one-year contract (after McManaman had made a name for himself at tournaments for school and around Merseyside), McManaman's father rejected it in favour of a schoolboy contract and two-year apprenticeship offer from Liverpool. McManaman signed as a 16-year-old apprentice upon leaving school in 1988. As an apprentice, McManaman was under the mentoring of John Barnes whom he was being groomed to replace. A natural athlete and cross country champion at school level (once beating Curtis Robb), he developed through the youth scheme at Liverpool and signed as a full professional on 19 February 1990 in what was to be Kenny Dalglish's final full season as manager. He made his Liverpool debut under Dalglish as a substitute for Peter Beardsley in the Football League First Division on 15 December 1989, in a 3–0 league win over Sheffield United at Anfield, and made his full debut in a 2–1 win over Oldham Athletic the following season, when Graeme Souness had become the new manager. He scored his first ever professional goal with a diving header four days later on 21 August 1991 in the 2–1 defeat to Manchester City at Maine Road.
McManaman's performances in his first season in 1991–92 established him as a regular first team player, making 51 appearances in total, a result of both his form and his being thrown in the deep end after his mentor, Barnes, suffered a career threatening Achilles Tendon injury. He created and scored several goals that year and 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 despite being the youngest player on the pitch. He also featured heavily in their run to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup. His performances saw McManaman 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 best wingers 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 following a confidence drop 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 later 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, who wanted to utilise McManaman's natural running and dribbling ability to drift all over the park. It proved a successful decision as McManaman began mesmerising defences with runs that were later to become hallmarks of the Liverpool side of the 1990s. That season he collected a League Cup winner's medal after scoring twice in his side's 2–1 win over Bolton; such was his performance that fans named it "The McManaman Final". For his second Wembley final appearance in succession he was awarded man of the match, earning the Alan Hardaker Trophy and a tribute from guest of honour, celebrated veteran winger Sir Stanley Matthews, who exclaimed after the final: "He reminds me of me when I was playing ... I wish there are more dribblers like him."
By the end of 1995–96, McManaman was top of the Premier League goal assists chart with 25 assists over the season, including assists and top ratings in a match against Newcastle voted the best of the decade in the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards. By now, McManaman was ranked as one of the finest midfielders in England and had developed a strong reputation on the European stage following UEFA Euro 1996, earning praise from many at the time including Kevin Keegan, who said "there are few finer sights in world football than the sight of Steve McManaman running down the length of the pitch."
McManaman had also been noted for his versatility in his free role, switching from right to left wings, and his ability to play in central midfield, behind the front pair, or as a forward, with many notable managers including then Ajax coach Louis van Gaal, describing it as a role few could pull off the way McManaman had. McManaman was credited for making the role manager Evans gave him work, with the result being that Liverpool were playing some of the most aesthetically pleasing attacking football at the time in England. McManaman was also said to have been one of only a handful of so-called "talismanic" players along with Eric Cantona and Gianfranco Zola in the league at the time believed to have the charisma to lift supporters from their seats each time they got the ball. Managers would deploy a man-marker specifically to follow him for an entire game, with Gianfranco Zola noting that McManaman was the player the Italian national players monitored the most. Howard Wilkinson said McManaman was "virtually unstoppable" at times, while then Middlesbrough manager, Bryan Robson, was quoted as saying that "everyone in the Premiership knows that if you stop McManaman, you stop Liverpool." Roy Evans, attempting to diminish the attention on marking McManaman, stated "I would hate to think we are no more than a one-man team." German coach Berti Vogts named McManaman as one of only three Premiership players in his select European XI Team.
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 two title races including 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 and other teammates were reported to have cashed in on their newfound fame as stars of the nascent 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 Robbie Fowler's lifestyles off the pitch following an interview with the magazine, Loaded, which depicted the duo as hedonists and scally characters, as well as stories about McManaman and Fowler's lack of decorum and disruptive influence in the dressing room. McManaman responded by joining The Times to write a weekly column, becoming the first footballer of his generation to do so.
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 Fowler and later Michael Owen, with Owen saying that "Liverpool at the time was built around McManaman" and was an average team whenever McManaman was not on form. 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 after a 75 yard dribble. Other outstanding goals during his Liverpool career included goals against Aston Villa, Newcastle 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.
In August 1997 Liverpool, having been unable to agree a new contract with McManaman and fearing that the player might leave on a Bosman free transfer, accepted a £12 million bid for the player from Barcelona. The deal subsequently fell apart amidst recriminations about the player's remuneration demands and Barcelona's motives for the bid, being in negotiation with Rivaldo at the same time and snubbing McManaman when he travelled to Spain to meet them. McManaman himself stated that he had no desire to leave Liverpool and with two years left on his contract was simply not in any rush to sign a new one. A subsequent bid of £11 million from Juventus in November of the same year was rejected by both club and player.
McManaman was named Liverpool captain at the start of the 1998–99 season, but contract negotiations continued to flounder as the club could not match the sums available to McManaman if he left as a free agent. Having been overlooked by Glenn Hoddle for the 1998 World Cup squad in an underachieving Liverpool side, denounced in the English media as being greedy and bolstered by advice from the likes of fellow professionals Paul Ince, Paul Gascoigne, and Chris Waddle, McManaman publicly announced his desire to play abroad.
Numerous European clubs circled the soon-to-be free agent with Real Madrid quickly being seen as his most likely destination. In January 1999 it was reported that McManaman was talking to Real with the player reportedly offered £60,000 a week and nearly £2 million as a signing on fee. On 30 January, McManaman passed a medical and signed an official pre-contract with the club which would make him the best paid British footballer to date. He declined to pose in a Real Madrid shirt at the contract signing event, out of respect for Liverpool's fans.
McManaman's image of being a contract rebel and mercenary was exacerbated by his involvement in a year long dispute between 1997 and 1998 with his football boot sponsor Umbro. Umbro sued him for breach of contract for knowingly wearing Reebok branded boots in contravention of the deal, and deliberately "blacking out" their logo on his boots in protest. McManaman argued that his contract was unenforceable and an unlawful restraint of trade. McManaman claimed that he was being exploited and his agent, Simon Fuller and fought him to have the deal rescinded The court initially ordered McManaman to fulfil his contract, plus an undertaking to pay Umbro's legal costs for launching contempt of court proceedings against him in 1997, which McManaman accepted and apologised for. A year on, however, McManaman continued to dishonour the deal. He finally won an out-of-court settlement in October 1998, freeing him to negotiate with other companies for what he regarded as remuneration appropriate to his status. The case, in addition to his Liverpool contract wrangles saw the media describe McManaman as the "star performer in his own soap", though McManaman's Liverpool manager Roy Evans defended the player, stating: "Macca is so laid-back you would never know he was hurting inside. But he has been. Some of of the criticisms have been so unfair. Typical of Macca, he's responded magnificently."
Having signed the pre-contract with Madrid, McManaman still had five months left on his contract at Liverpool. New manager Gerard Houllier, who had replaced Evans as full coach following the failure of their joint-managerial role, was widely believed to want to get rid of the "Spice Boys" mentality and cavalier attitudes at the club having told many players they were surplus to requirements (including Jason McAteer, Phil Babb, Rob Jones, Stig Bjornebye and Paul Ince). While stating that he would have preferred that the player stayed, he said that the club had to respect McManaman's decision to exercise his right to leave at the end of his contract. Houllier said: "It wasn't unexpected. Steve had always maintained that he wanted to move abroad and I have to respect that ... Emotionally we will miss him because he's a Liverpool lad, and needless to say as a player you can't fault him because he has immense ability ... I will have to replace him, it's my job to go out and find another Steve McManaman.".
In McManaman's final games for the club in the second half of the 1998–99 season, he began turning in mixed performances, with the media accusing him of playing out his final season in a "desultory manner". 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 replace him), and loss of confidence in certain games where even the home fans turned against him over the contract debacle, with some labelling him a 'traitor' and a Judas figure. McManaman told the media after one such game where he became victim of the "boo boys", saying: "That's understandable, when I came off the other day I knew the reaction there was going to be. But I think if they put themselves in the same predicament, and the fact that I have been at Liverpool for 12 years and that I would like to test myself in a foreign country, that's understandable." 
The combination of these factors meant McManaman suffered a loss of form, but, McManaman managed to rally and pick up his play right at the end of that last campaign. McManaman scored a crucial goal away at Blackburn Rovers, set up a dramatic injury time equaliser with a through ball for Paul Ince to score in front of the Kop against Manchester United, and scored the winner 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, a lap of honour at Anfield, and a two row squad farewell at the entrance of the players' tunnel.
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 finished alongside Nick Barmby as joint runner up to Giggs in the PFA Young Player of the Year awards in 1992, was named in the PFA Team of the Year for four consecutive seasons from 1994–95 to 1997–98, and also made 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 McManaman held the record for most consecutive Premier League appearances as an ever present at Liverpool for four seasons including 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 272 appearances, with a total of 142 assists for the club; an average of one assist per two and a half games. As of 2011–12, McManaman holds the 14th position on the Premiership's All Time Assists charts. Until 2011, McManaman held the record for greatest number of assists in Liverpool history, ahead of Steven Gerrard, who has since overtaken him. McManaman is also ranked 5th on the Premier League all time assists charts for number of games it took to hit 100 assists, and also in terms of being the 5th youngest player to hit 100 assists in Premier League history, with only Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, Ryan Giggs and David Beckham above him in the list.
On 5 September 2006, Steve McManaman was named #22 in the official Liverpool website's "100 Players Who Shook The Kop" list, in which Jamie Carragher described McManaman as "the best midfield player in the country for three or four years" running. Both Rob Jones and Robbie Fowler gave two interviews in 2012–13 in which they stated McManaman was the greatest player they ever played alongside, with Fowler saying: "I've played with many, many great players. Paul Gascoigne was fantastic and I could sit here all day and talk about Liverpool players - John Barnes, Ian Rush, Jan Molby, Ronnie Whelan and Steven Gerrard, who is an unbelievable player. He would probably be my number two. The best player I've ever played with is Steve McManaman ... he really was that good." In 2013, McManaman was named #20 in the official Liverpool website's second "100 Players Who Shook the Kop" list, rising up by two positions.
When Mark Lawrenson and Jim Beglin named McManaman in their team of the 1990s, they said that most managers in the league used the same tactic of marking McManaman to stop Liverpool and whilst it was a tremendous compliment to McManaman, the opposition could stop Liverpool because the tactical system of 3-5-2 or 3-4-1-2 was too dependent on McManaman and would fail if McManaman was off form, or if the team was not complemented by a quality defence (players who could play both wingback and centre half to cope with onslaughts), or the presence of a steely defensive midfielder, which was what happened with the team of that time. Nevertheless, McManaman was voted in on the official Liverpool FC website as the club's midfielder of the 1990s, was named by Ruud Gullit as one of his top two players from the entire Premier League era, and despite Liverpool fans' disappointment over the nature of how McManaman conducted his departure, it is believed that many fans still regard McManaman (along with Fowler) as the two players who carried Liverpool through the 1990s.
On 1 July 1999, after 364 appearances and 66 goals for Liverpool, McManaman transferred to Real Madrid as Guus Hiddink's last signing (before being sacked, and while the club was under President Lorenzo Sanz). Before McManaman arrived, the club was described as undergoing a management and debt crisis and Raúl González told the press: "The dressing room is a cesspit of lies, treachery and whispers ... I feel sorry for new players like Steve McManaman coming into the club. If McManaman thinks he is coming to one of the world's top clubs then he has made a big mistake." The club appointed John Toshack as its new coach and had already been forced to sell key players like Predrag Mijatović, Davor Šuker and Christian Panucci due to mounting debt, while Clarence Seedorf was also released shortly after McManaman arrived. McManaman's arrival saw him become 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 stadium after scoring three times and creating several goals in his first few games for Los Merengues.
McManaman made his debut for Madrid on 22 August 1999 in the 2–1 La Liga win over RCD Mallorca at the Son Moix stadium, Mallorca, where he assisted Fernando Morientes in scoring the injury time winner. He scored his first goal for the club a week later on his home debut on the 29 August, in a 4–1 thumping of Numancia at the Bernabéu.
In December 1999 to January 2000, McManaman and the Madrid team took part in the controversial inaugural FIFA Club World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, where McManaman missed an injury time chance to win the game, and then the penalty kick against Necaxa that would have sent Madrid into 3rd place. McManaman and the team then returned to Spain and established themselves as the side that went all the way to the Champions League Final in 2000, under new coach Vicente del Bosque, who had replaced John Toshack in November. McManaman's form in the build up saw him receive several men of the match awards, forming a strong midfield partnership with Fernando Redondo, as Madrid beat holders Manchester United and Bayern Munich to reach the final. It was at this 2000 UEFA Champions League Final at the Stade de France in Paris 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, in a club record transfer, saw the club forced to sell several key players to reduce debt. Fernando Redondo, Nicolas Anelka, Christian Karembeu and McManaman were suddenly told they were surplus to requirements before the start of the 2000–01 season and were sold. When McManaman refused to leave unlike the others, 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. A Sky Sports report in August 2000 also stated that eight other clubs were racing for his signature at the time, including Manchester United, Parma and Fiorentina, but McManaman remained adamant even as Sir Alex Ferguson also declared his admiration for McManaman by arranging a contingent to convince him to sign but McManaman said he wanted to succeed in Spain. His stance was rewarded when Real relented after a Spanish poll in El Mundo showed 90% of the fans demanded the club keep McManaman, while Michel Salgado complained to the management about the way McManaman was treated after McManaman turned down yet again, another transfer attempt- this time to Lazio, who came in with an £8 million offer. Real's change toward McManaman began when Del Bosque gave him 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 regular 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 shone in this second season at Madrid as his club side challenged for the La Liga title and Champions League- where they lost in the semi-finals to Bayern Munich, but won their 28th La Liga crown by a seven point margin over the previous seasons champions, Deportivo La Coruña.
McManaman increasingly saw his playing time reduced each year, as the club initiated their now well known Galáctico policy, with world class 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. In 2002, 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 and golf buddies 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, who adored him for his workrate, and where the Spanish media would rave about him regarding anything from his love of the Madrid lifestyle, his willingness to learn the language and immerse into their culture, to his home in La Moraleja, or even his androgynous resemblance to Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman, all of which, curiously resulted in bolstering his "affable and amiable" image as the darling of the team at that time. According to El País, in 2001, fans saluted him with their 'white handkerchiefs' (as a terrace favourite) after he acrobatically scored a 'wonder goal' (an incredible long-range high volley) against Real Oviedo that year.
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 "El Macca" (a book that was shortlisted as the William Hill Sports Book of the Year), 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.
Eventually, the Board, including Florentino Pérez relented, declaring that a "man like that would always have a place in my club", while Johan Cruyff described McManaman at the time as the most useful player in the "Galaticos" because he was "everyone's best partner on the pitch." A further honour was also extended on the pitch by the club in the 2001–02 season, whereas part of Madrid's Centenary Celebrations, McManaman was made the first Englishman to captain Real Madrid in a game against a FIFA World XI, to the applause of the ultras, with whom he was a cult favourite. Arguably his second greatest moment in the white of Madrid also took place that year, in the 2002 UEFA Champions League semi-final against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on 23 April 2002. In this match of monumental proportions, due to "El Clásico" 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, chipping over goalkeeper Roberto Bonano after being played in by Flavio Conceicao, after Zidane had scored the first goal on 55 minutes. This notable victory, Real's first at the Camp Nou since 1993, helped secure their place in the final of the 2002 Champions League at Hampden Park, Glasgow, 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.
McManaman was used as a late substitute for games at the start of the campaign and after scoring a goal and assisting in several of new signing Ronaldo's goals, he was given surprise starts. In one of his starts, he scored a brace against AEK Athens in the Champions' league. McManman also started in a famous game in 2003, where Madrid were beaten 4–3 at Old Trafford in the Champions' League, even as Ronaldo hit a hat-trick. Nonetheless, after only playing 21 games of which he started only 9 times, and making a meagre 15 appearances in La Liga, questions constantly arose throughout the season about McManaman's 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, though the media were also described as suffering from "a selective media amnesia over McManaman's time in Spain."
Nonetheless, McManaman managed to pick up a second La Liga medal for the year, and was in the squad that won the Intercontinental Cup in Japan. These trophies, in addition to the others over his four years at the club, meant McManaman became the most successful English football export to ever play overseas. In addition to honours, according to Forbes magazine in 2001, McManaman was listed as 6th on the list of the 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.
The signing of fellow Englishman David Beckham proved the last straw in eventually forcing McManaman down the pecking order at Real Madrid. McManaman remained with the club for its pre-season for 2003–04, even after coach Del Bosque was given a shock sacking 24 hours after having won the club's last La liga title, but in the close season, and the arrival of Carlos Queiroz as new coach, McManaman was released by the club after helping Beckham settle in with the language and despite Beckham's pleas to the management for McManaman to remain.
In a tribute to McManaman, four years after he left the club, ex-coach Del Bosque told Spanish newspaper AS Marca, that McManaman and Geremi Njitap were the two most important players in his squad, because "together they kept the whole team united."
In 2003–04, along with teammates Claude Makélélé, Fernando Hierro and later Fernando Morientes, McManaman headed back to the Premier League. Initially reported to be joining 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, prompting the media to state that Keegan was "reuniting the Spice Boys".
McManaman made his debut on 14 September 2003 in a 4–1 win over Aston Villa at the City of Manchester Stadium, and quickly showed good early form, with the club starting with a run of wins and progressing in the UEFA Cup, with McManaman hailed by Keegan to great hype, but by Christmas that year, results had fallen, the team languished and ended the season, well out of European contention, and McManaman injured again. By 2004–05, McManaman's time at City was ultimately deemed a disappointment and he was increasingly vilified by the City fans, who later jeered him off the pitch following a draw with Norwich City. Fans also nicknamed him "McMoneyman" pejoratively in reference to old quibs about his reasons for leaving Liverpool, staying in Spain and picking City. On the pitch, 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, where he was known for his one touch passing and ability to never give the ball away. 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, Joey Barton, Stephen Ireland and Lee Croft did cite McManaman as a major motivating influence on them. McManaman also got criticised by Alex Ferguson in an FA Cup Manchester derby at Old Trafford for "intimidating Gary Neville" to get him sent off in an infamous headbutt incident in 2004, adding a derogatory comment that he had no idea what other role McManaman had in the game [and possibly for Manchester City].
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- costing them £50,000 in addition to making the case look like an invariable admission of guilt. The court case came fast on the heels of football's "roasting" and rape allegations at Chelsea earlier that year and served only to exacerbate their situations and affected their reputations off and on the pitch at the club, while an incident involving Fowler and McManaman and three other players deliberately missing the team bus at Leicester also did not go down well with the fans, manager and media.
In 2004, McManaman was linked to the MetroStars, who confirmed that the club were interested in him. 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". 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.
Though McManaman failed to score a single goal for City, his earlier successes enabled him to end his career across all his three clubs with a total of 560 appearances, scoring 80 goals, and with a respectable 182 assists; 142 of those notably coming in his time at Liverpool.
For England, McManaman would forever remain an enigma at international level. England coaches, except for Venables and Keegan, utilised McManaman's talents sparingly. McManaman was capped 37 times for England scoring three goals, and with the side only losing three times in the games that he played; two of them significant results- the infamous Euro 96 penalty shootout defeat to Germany at Wembley in 1996, and the opening day defeat against Portugal in Euro 2000.
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 Wales at Tranmere in October 1990, two months before he debuted for the Liverpool first-team, famously quoting in the process that he had seen "more fat on a chip" in reference to McManaman's skinny physique. In February 1993, McManaman captained the England Under-21 team for the first time against San Marino and scored the last goal in a convincing 6–0 win.
Terry Venables gave McManaman his full debut on 16 November 1994 in an international friendly with Nigeria at Wembley, McManaman coming on as a replacement for Newcastle United's Robert Lee. By 1995, McManaman was accused of struggling 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 was "one of the best players in Europe" and could be the "best in the world", tags 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, as well as shortlisted behind eventual winner, Jürgen Klinsmann, for the Most Valuable Player award.
However, McManaman failed to win over new England coach Glenn Hoddle despite being in excellent club form in the years Hoddle was in charge, raising questions about either his effort, his attitude, or his relationship with the manager, with some sections of the British press even lobbying Hoddle to pick McManaman. Hoddle stated in interviews that he wanted McManaman to take up the license to be the bridge between David Beckham and Paul Gascoigne, and often spoke highly of McManaman's ability, but noted that McManaman's best position was "floating" dangerously and it was hard to fit him into a system to suit the team and so he often selected Paul Merson and the rising Beckham instead. When McManaman (and Fowler) opted out of Le Tournoi in 1997 to choose to undergo non-urgent medical operations ahead of International duty, it was noted that this reportedly lost them their team spots as Hoddle though angered at losing them, found a winning team in their absence, and this made it even harder for McManaman to regain his place later. McManaman made a grand total of four appearances under Hoddle, and only one appearance at the 1998 FIFA World Cup against Colombia, as a substitute for Paul Scholes. When interviewed by FourFourTwo magazine, McManaman stated: "I think I probably least enjoyed my time when Glenn Hoddle was the manager. But I wouldn't say he was necessarily the worst. He had his ways of training and ways of acting and all managers have different ways of doing things; it's the same with club managers. Sometimes when you join up with England and you don't play as often as you did under a certain other manager – then you'll think it's terrible. I loved going to play with England. For instance, I did get to go to the World Cup even though I only played for 17 minutes. That kind of experience leaves an indelible mark on your mind. So I don't really think of it in terms of "worst"; but going to the World Cup and not playing much was a big thing for me, really, and that was under Glenn, of course." Hoddle also notably arranged for McManaman to meet a disabled fan (and thus fulfill his lifelong wish of meeting McManaman) whilst the fan was on the verge of death, in 1997, to great media acclaim, though the story only broke a year after Hoddle had been sacked from the England job for alleged disparaging comments about disabled people.
Kevin Keegan quickly reinstated McManaman to the England starting lineup after coming on the job. John Barnes spoke about McManaman in his autobiography in 1999 as "probably the greatest individual talent in English football and has to be presented the correct way", and Keegan gave several interviews in 1999 backing up that point; adding that he was finding out how best to utilise McManaman. Keegan eventually decided on deploying McManaman on the left wing on several occasions in 1999 and under Keegan, McManaman finally broke his international goal scoring duck, when he scored twice on 4 September 1999 in the 6–0 Euro 2000 qualifier victory over Luxembourg, again, at Wembley. Keegan took McManaman's new career at Madrid to reinstate his confidence in him, and handed him a coveted free role ahead of Euro 2000, stating that "in the past we compromised him ... but [following McManaman's UEFA Champions League success], we said 'we'll fit in with you, you've earned that chance' Unfortunately, McManaman played only once in Euro 2000, where he scored the last of his three England goals in a famous opening game against Portugal, where McManaman put England 2–0 ahead, only for it to end because McManaman got injured after scoring, forcing a tactical switch. McManaman never played for Keegan again as Keegan left the England job two months later in October 2000.
The last of McManaman's caps came in 2001 when Sven-Göran Eriksson utilised him for his first games in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, including a game back at Anfield against Finland- where McManaman setup David Beckham's winner- 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 in early 2002. Despite the pleas of McManaman's Real Madrid team mates Zidane and Fernando Hierro for McManaman's case, McManaman said he never ever heard from or met Eriksson again. Zidane went on to state England had made a mistake, and described McManaman with a rare passion as one of the highest quality players he ever played with: "I was surprised when McManaman was left out of the last England squad. I couldn't believe they would ignore a player of his quality. Now people are talking about the fact that maybe he will get his chance because David Beckham is injured. But McManaman is far better than just being a replacement for Beckham. McManaman should be in the starting line-up anyway." Support for McManaman also came before the 2002 World Cup in the British media, after Sky Sports published an article based on OPTA statistics, revealing that despite a poor goalscoring record, McManaman had in fact an 88% dribbling completion rate (having embarked on a run every 17 minutes), and an 84% pass completion rate, all three of which were higher by over 15% than any English midfield Premiership player at the time.
However, by late 2001, after coming on as a substitute when England beat Germany 5-1 in the Olympiastadion, McManaman put in an inept display against Albania that saw him banished from Eriksson's team, as that was his final game; making just one substitute appearance after that in the critical qualifier against Greece in 2001. Later that year, he did himself no favours by "choosing not to play" in the game against Sweden by calling the FA to have himself dropped from the squad, before assistant coach at the time, Tord Grip "put the knife" in his international career when he said "McManaman has never played well for England" and following that, McManaman was not selected for another England squad.
McManaman was once described as "England's forgotten man" but was also accused of being apathetic and having a laidback attitude and having a reputation for being a troublemaker, which began after an infamous "dentists' chair" incident before Euro96, where along with Teddy Sheringham and Gascoigne, McManaman was photographed drinking and accused of causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to a Cathay Pacific first class flight cabin. McManaman's reputation was also not aided by the fact that he was also known for being a serial prankster with Fowler, which did nothing to help new coaches' negative opinions about him, with the Spice Boys' image also making it worse, although, colleague Gareth Southgate did say McManaman and Fowler's antics though "silly", helped foster team spirit. In 2004, certain journalists even called for McManaman to be included in the Euro 2004 squad, arguing that McManaman's experience would have been worth his inclusion in the side alone, but to no avail as McManaman himself decided to retire shortly after.
Some reporters however, had the view that McManaman's omission, was entirely down to his attitude, ego and pride: "Steve McManaman? Sat in his sumptuous villa on the outskirts of Madrid, refusing to watch England's under-strength midfield attempt to cope with the loss of David Beckham. Chewing over the fact that just as he reaches his peak, his England career is finished. And probably not giving a flying Figo. If McManaman was half as proud as he is gifted, he would have been devastated to know that when Beckham's broken foot set a nation talking, his name never once cropped up as the man whose talent and experience could fill the gap. He would feel ashamed that with Paul Scholes and Steven Gerrard the only proven international-class players in midfield, Sven Goran Eriksson hadn't asked him to lead his country out at his old stamping ground and show us why a few years ago Pele called him one of the best players in the world. But that's our Shaggy. So laid-back he's doing a permanent limbo dance ... When it has come to showing he is worthy of his shirt his attitude has been: "I scored in a European Cup Final for the biggest club there is and I can't see why I'm sitting on a bench behind the likes of Nick Barmby. If you throw me on as sub, I go on with nothing to prove. And if you don't like my attitude, fair enough." Nowhere did that come across more than in his 25 minutes against Albania when his apathy was so great, every time he went down the paramedics did not know whether to bring on a stretcher or sun-lounger. He has complained that Eriksson only plays him in fits and starts and thus hasn't appreciated his true quality. But a player of his class should never have allowed that to be a problem. He should have been bursting a gut to embarrass the coach whenever he got the chance. It seems baffling that the most successful Englishman to play abroad (medals-wise) had his international career terminated at 29 when his country was crying out for his brand of skill. And it begs the question - have England made a blunder by discarding a world-class player? Or is the fact that he couldn't care whether he's discarded or not proof that McManaman never had the mental toughness to be a world-class player in the first-place? Like Sven, I'll plump for the latter." 
McManaman retired from his playing career after being released by Manchester City in 2005. In early 2006, McManaman nearly came out of retirement to sign for the Hong Kong Rangers, a club owned by an admirer of his football, Carson Yeung, but the deal fell through due to McManaman's recurrent injuries which scuppered his fitness test.
In October 2006, McManaman played in a charity match for Liverpool Legends against Celtic Legends.
In late 2006, McManaman joined production for the film, Goal II: Living the Dream, the sequel to Goal!. By the time of release in 2007, McManaman had also become an Associate Producer of the film, and appears in the film as one of the coaching staff for Kuno Becker's lead character. McManaman was also active in promoting the film with star Anna Friel at its premiere.
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. Roosevelt Park. 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 2010, McManaman became an ambassador for UEFA alongside Christian Karembeu in its Champions League Trophy World Tour, as well as at the Madrid Festival leading up to the Champions League 2010 Final at the Bernabeu. McManaman, has also been taking part in several "legends" squads for testimonial matches and fundraisers, most notably, at domestic level with the likes of ex-Liverpool players, but also for the EFPA- European Association of Former Players- along with a host of retired stars like Hristo Stoichkov, Enzo Scifo, and Lothar Matthaus. In May 2010, McManaman played for the Real Madrid Veteranos against Milan AC's Glorie team for charity known as the Corazon Classic- in front of a crowd of 80,000 at the Bernabeu, and in an all star game featuring Emilio Butragueno, Figo, Zidane, Chendo, Alfonso, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Rui Costa and other world class football stars to a great reception.
In 2011, McManaman joined a number of former star players including Diego Maradona and former team-mates Luis Figo and Robbie Fowler in a select World XI to play against Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and his select XI in a match to mark the opening of the new national stadium in the war torn nation's capital of Grozny. The match drew criticism from some commentators and human rights groups due to Kadyrov's alleged human rights abuses. McManaman commented "This is not a piece of propaganda for us ... We are not here politically. We are just here to play football." In December 2011, McManaman was also invited to be a part of the United Nations Development Programme Football Squad by ex-team mates Zidane and Ronaldo (ambassadors of the UNDP), to take part in a series of friendly matches to raise funds known as Match Against Poverty.
In July 2007, McManaman was named executive director of Carson Yeung's Hong Kong-listed company Grandtop International Holdings Ltd, which subsequently took a 29.9% stake in Premier League side Birmingham City. 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., and by 2010, McManaman was appointed as a board director at Birmingham City, where McManaman assured Steve Bruce at the time that he was not part of some scheme to take over his job as coach. On 4 June 2012 it was announced that he had resigned as an executive director of Birmingham International Holdings, the company that owns Birmingham City. On 19 September 2012, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange criticised McManaman "... for failing to use best endeavours to procure Birmingham City International Holdings' compliance with the Exchange Listing Rules." The exchange said the company failed to disclose a large deposit it had to make as it was preparing to buy the English football club Birmingham City in 2009. The exchange also said the purchase of the club should have been put to the company's shareholders for their approval, which it was not.
In 2007–08, McManaman also got involved with corporate dealings in Hong Kong with companies like Sure Trace Inc, which was set up by another porn baron and stock market and IT entrepreneur, James MacKay, 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.
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.
McManaman first got a taste for media work in 2005 after he became active as a freelance media commentator and pundit, providing analysis to ITV for the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final, in which he provided the analysis as his old club Liverpool won the trophy. McManaman then went on to take up opportunities for Asia's largest football broadcasters, ESPN Star, in Singapore in 2006, where he worked alongside commentator John Dykes and ex-players such as fellow ex-Liverpool star Steve McMahon.
By 2007, also McManaman became a full-time media pundit, having joined Setanta Sports as a football analyst and, for the 2007–08 season, he was given his own television show -Macca's Monday Night- reflecting on life in the Barclays Premier League. On the show, he played host and 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. Renowned for his direct comments, in one of McManaman's broadcasts in February 2008, McManaman found himself criticised in the Liverpool press and by former Liverpool fans when his comments for Setanta after a Merseyside derby, on the ownership issue concerning debt involving Tom Hicks and George N. Gillett, Jr. at Anfield went down poorly with the supporters.
Since July 2010, having joined commentator Ian Darke and former Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann as well as Dutch International Ruud Gullit on the ESPN coverage team as a commentary analyst for the 2010 World Cup, McManaman has since signed on with the network to be an in-game analyst for the Major League Soccer, Premier League, and even 2013 Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup 2014, and has become a permanent co-commentator alongside Ian Darke. In late November 2010 and in May 2011, McManaman was the halftime in-studio analyst alongside Gary Lineker and Trevor Francis for La Liga's El Clásico broadcast on Al Jazeera Sports +3. McManaman and Darke were the main ESPN commentary team for Euro 2012, while McManaman can also be seen occasionally giving Spanish interviews on ESPN Deportes to Jorge Ramos, as well as a guest on daily panel show, ESPN PressPass (now re-branded as ESPN FC), alongside Steve Nicol, Robbie Mustoe, Shaka Hislop, Robbie Earle and Gabriele Marcotti.
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. In 2013, veteran jockey Tony McCoy named his horse for the Chepstow races, "El Macca" in reference to McManaman
McManaman's grandfather was a bookmaker and his father described the family as having "horseracing in their blood." According to the English FA website, McManaman is a distant relative of Callum McManaman, who currently plays professional football as a winger at Wigan Athletic.
McManaman married his longtime girlfriend, Victoria Edwards, a barrister and law lecturer (who taught at the Autonomous University of Madrid during her time in Madrid with McManaman), on 6 June 2002, in Mallorca's Palma Cathedral. Victoria gave birth to their daughters Ella in 2006 and Lara in 2009, and son Lucas James in 2012. The family divides its time between homes in Bay of Palma, London and Cheshire.
|1999–2000||Real Madrid||La Liga||30||3||10||0||0||0||7||1||47||4|
|Real Madrid Total||94||8||22||1||0||0||36||5||152||14|
|2003–04||Manchester City||Premier League||22||0||3||0||1||0||4||0||30||0|
|Manchester City Total||35||0||4||0||1||0||4||0||44||0|
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