Midfielder who retired at 25 claims Spurs were going mad to sign him

Former Preston North End midfielder Michael Keane’s story is an extremely sad one, albeit a far too common one in the game over recent decades.

The midfielder was considered an up and coming talent when he joined the Preston academy.

His manager at Preston, David Moyes even compared him to Manchester United legend Roy Keane after he broke into the first-team as a teenager (Irish Independent).

However, things did not go as planned for the talented midfielder who ended up making just 56 league appearances for North End, and was axed in 2004.

The Dubliner struggled after leaving Preston and had unsuccessful spells at Hull City, Rotherham United and St Patrick’s Athletic before hanging up his boots in 2008 at the age of 25.

The way his career ended was particularly disappointing when St Patrick’s sacked Keane for being overweight, a blow which he didn’t recover from (Deep Dale Digest).

The Irishman has now admitted that he had a chance to move to Tottenham Hotspur as a youngster with manager Gerry Francis extremely keen on bringing him to North London.

However, he revealed that David Moyes convinced him to sign for Preston.

Speaking to Lancs Live, Keane said: “I’d actually had a lot of clubs including Man City and Tottenham interested in me at a young age.

“I was looking around and I’d been to Preston on a few occasions, and Preston just really appealed to me. Gerry Francis at Tottenham was going mad to sign me, Joe Royle too at City, but when I went and spoke to David Moyes he said he knew there was a lot of interest but we feel this is the best place for you.

“He just said that if I did well in the youth team, I’d get a chance in the reserves no matter how young I was and then if I did well there he’d play me in the first team – there was a lot of common sense and he had that sparkle in his eye straight away.”

Spurs Web Opinion

Keane’s story is fairly common these days as many players graduating from the top academies find themselves struggling to forge a career in the game by their mid-twenties. Although there is now much more focus on developing youngsters holistically and giving them the education they need to make a career outside football, there is still a structural problem in terms of how many youngsters are chewed up and spat out by the academy system.

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