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 Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja

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PočaljiNaslov: Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja   Čet 23 Dec 2010 - 18:57

Game over. The words flashed fluorescent across the quiz machine screen as Keith Gillespie pondered ruefully just what it was that Al Oerter was good at. It was knowledge a stone's throw away. Gillespie sat down, sipped his lager shandy and pondered what next. Outside, the stubborn snow confirmed a sense of pause.

This was last Wednesday in a bar in Hartlepool and it would emerge later that 'what next' for Gillespie would be a packed bag and a trip to the airport, back to Northern Ireland to see his wife and young daughters.

The 35-year-old, whose career began in a blaze of headlines at Manchester United half a lifetime ago, was not going to have his month-long trial at non-League Darlington extended. Game over. For a few moments it may have felt like that for the Northern Irish winger.

In October, HM Revenue & Customs declared Gillespie bankrupt and to those who recall him for things like losing £47,000 in an afternoon on the horses, that will have come as no surprise. It is, Gillespie said, a frequent question: 'How much?' As in, how much have you lost over time on beaten horses, dogs, whatever.

He has a quiz-regular's memory but does not know. But it can be measured in hundreds of thousands. That is part of why Gillespie arrived in Darlington. But now here he was, a man who once terrorised Barcelona in the Champions League, being gently released after three games, the last in front of 477 spectators in the FA Trophy.

Self pity might have been expected to grip but there is none of that. Nor, he said, are there bookmakers accounts now. 'In the long run I wised up. Anyone who gambles has a bit of foolishness within them. I lost the money first time around and I carried on. But I don't want to be remembered for gambling. I've had good clubs and I played 86 times for Northern Ireland. To play once is an honour.'

What about bankruptcy? 'I can't go into it but what I can say is that it's a complicated situation, more complicated than it appears, that's for sure. It's going down a legal route. I am not trying to avoid anything.

'As for Darlington, it's been hard because of the weather. My first game at Darlington was my first game anywhere for six months. Then the weather hit and you need matches to get you where you want to be fitness-wise. Darlington had three games called off.

'I know I've not been spectacular at Darlington, I know that, but I'd like it to be remembered I'd not played and I'm not fully fit.

'But I don't feel bitter, it's the way it goes. You go and do your best and this is how it pans out.'

Back to the beginning. Gillespie was born in 1975 near Belfast. He grew up supporting Manchester United and first went there in 1986, the same year as Alex Ferguson. Gillespie would slot into a Youth Cup-winning team that contained the famous fledglings. United signed him in secret at 13½.

'It didn't become official until I was 14,' Gillespie said. 'My mother and father were brought over to a match - Middlesbrough at home, Bryan Robson scored - and we were taken down to the dressing room.

'The night before, Alex Ferguson and his wife came to the hotel and had dinner with us. When you're 13 that's quite a big thing.'

Gillespie did not feature in the league when United won their first title for 26 years in 1993. But in that January he was eased into the team in the FA Cup third round. He was 17. It was Bury at home but Ferguson fielded his first XI. United won 2-0, Mike Phelan and Gillespie scored.

'Players get rested in cups nowadays but that was more or less a full-strength team, other than myself,' Gillespie said. 'I played instead of Giggs. That's how I found out, Paul Parker asked the manager if Giggsy was fit and he said, "No, but sure he can play", and he pointed to me. That was how he told me I was playing. I'd no time to get the nervous.

'The funny thing about Mike Phelan's goal was that I'd been reading the programme two weeks earlier and it had the players' wishlists. Mike Phelan's was to score at Old Trafford because he'd never done it. After about eight minutes I put a cross in and he scored a header.

'My goal, Cantona played it wide, I jinked, shot and the goalkeeper should've saved it, but it went in. It was Gary Kelly, Alan Kelly's brother. I was a Man United fan. I scored on my debut. At Old Trafford. It is what dreams are made of.

'I went home to my digs near The Cliff in Salford. I shared a room with Robbie Savage. There were no mobile phones then, so when I got in I rang home and they were all going mad.

'The game was live on the radio and my granda listened to it. He'd phoned my mum and that. It was a Tuesday night. I remember training with the youth team on the Monday afternoon and we'd done quite a difficult run. Normally the day before a game you don't do much.'

What did Ferguson say? 'I played for the youth team the following Saturday.'

Gillespie played 13 more times for United before being involved in one of the transfers of the decade, Andy Cole's leaving of Newcastle for Old Trafford.

Gillespie was 19 in January 1995. He recalled it like yesterday, but then Bramall Lane's toilets can stick to you. 'Alex Ferguson pulled me aside before a game at Sheffield United. He said, "I've put a bid in for a striker, he's at Newcastle, but they won't do a deal unless you're part of it".

'It was in the toilets. He didn't mention Andy Cole but I knew straight away. He told me to have a think about it during the game.

'I was sitting beside Ben Thornley in the directors' box. I didn't say anything but I got the conversation around to Newcastle. Ben said, "Oh, great club. What about their fans!"

'I went straight from the ground with Alex Ferguson to a hotel nearby, met up with Kevin Keegan. Alex Ferguson did the deal, he was writing figures down, calculating, brilliant. He rang my mum, told her.
His Teams

'It was sad to be leaving but I had Andrei Kanchelskis in front of me and Newcastle made their position clear, they made me feel wanted. It was sold to me. At six o'clock I'd gone to Bramall Lane hoping to be in the Man United team, by midnight I'd been sold to Newcastle. Out of nowhere.'

Newcastle United had come out of nowhere under Keegan. Now they were challenging Ferguson and exciting a country. 'There was pressure on me because of Andy Cole going, Keegan standing on the steps to justify it. But he was right, and he got Les Ferdinand.

'My first full season in 1995-96 was total entertainment. And I look at it this way: if someone asked you who came second in the Premier League three seasons ago, you'd struggle to remember. But everyone remembers Newcastle because of the way we played. That's a compliment to Keegan and the team. It was something like 70 or 80 games in a row where Newcastle didn't have a nil-nil. We had flair - David Ginola, Peter Beardsley - players who made things happen.

'Of course you want silverware, but from where Newcastle were in 1992 when Keegan took over - nearly relegated to the old Third Division - to five years later beating Barcelona in the Champions League. I know Keegan wasn't the manager that night but it was his team. People need to have some sense of perspective.'

Gillespie would later win the League Cup for Blackburn in Cardiff, enjoy promotion to the Premier League with Sheffield United and earn those 86 caps, but it is that night against Barcelona that people will return to when his name is mentioned - before torn betting slips.

Newcastle won 3-2 as Gillespie and Faustino Asprilla rampaged. Kenny Dalglish had succeeded Keegan. 'It was one of those nights, 3-0 up against Barcelona. I know they got two back but then they did have Luis Figo, Rivaldo, Luis Enrique, Ivan de la Pena, Sonny Anderson. Nadal at the back. Sergi at left back. Christophe Dugarry came off the bench.'

Gillespie played that night like Gareth Bale did against Inter Milan recently. Asprilla scored a hat-trick. The Colombian and the Irishman were mates, on and off the pitch. 'I'm a bit of a messer and he's a bit of a one-off. Maybe he'd done his homework. I was a young lad, he knew I'd be out.

'But we were always together as a club. Even teetotallers like Peter Beardsley were out, the physios and youth team coaches were out. The spirit within us was unbelievable.

'But we didn't go out after Barcelona, we had to go to a hotel because we were playing at West Ham on the Saturday.

'John Barnes scored, 1-0. I had such an average game. I went from Barcelona to that.'

From Barcelona to that. After Blackburn came two seasons with Leicester City, then four years at Sheffield United. Gillespie relished being back at Bramall Lane until a fall-out with Kevin Blackwell. There was a brief period with Bradford before he moved back to Northern Ireland with Glentoran.

But they are economically challenged, too, and he has been looking around since June. He mentioned 'offers in the pipeline' yesterday, so the month in static, snowbound Darlington may have kick-started something.

'I know all players say that it feels like it's all gone in a blink,' he said of two decades and more since going to Old Trafford.

'And it does. But I am still hungry. I know you can't stay at the same level for ever, have some perspective.

'In an ideal world I'd be in the Premier League but that's not the case. I want to keep going, I'll be 36 in February and I think I can keep going for another couple of years.

'I'd play to 40 if I could. If I have to keep going at another level, then so be it.'

Game over for Keith Gillespie? Not yet. And he knows now that Al Oerter threw the discus.

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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja   Čet 23 Dec 2010 - 21:37

"Kada krene dobro, svi sanjaju o novoj tituli, već posle dva-tri vezana poraza organizuju se demonstracije i traži se nečija glava i između nema ničeg: ako ste navijač Njukasla, ili ste na sedmom nebu, zagledani u svetlu budućnost, ili se valjate po podu u bolovima većim od kamena u bubregu, proklinjući dan kada ste rođeni na severu ili zavoleli crno-bele boje"

Marko Prelević
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja   Čet 23 Dec 2010 - 22:19


Theres only one Alan Shearer!
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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja   Pet 24 Dec 2010 - 18:41

Severni Irac. Shearer ga nalupao kad se folirao u nekom baru u Dublin-u. Very Happy

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PočaljiNaslov: Re: Keith Gillespie od sjaja do očaja   Pet 24 Dec 2010 - 19:20

Kockar... Sjebo sve sto je imao a zivot je tek pred njim... Sorrow...

"Earn your stripes.” - David Ginola to Newcastle players
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