Simply the best at the Meat Management Industry Awards 2021
Football icon Kevin Keegan OBE, who will host this year’s Meat Management Industry Awards on 9th September, has spoken to Meat Management about mastering the barbecue and the psychology of taking first place.
Following a very successful online broadcast last year, the Meat Management Industry Awards makes a welcome return to an in-person event at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel on 9th September. Revealing the winners will be Kevin Keegan, the England footballing legend and former England manager, who played for top clubs including Liverpool, Newcastle and Hamburg and who knows a thing or two about winning trophies.
Kevin, what attracted you to hosting the Meat Management Industry Awards?
Awards nights are such good fun because people are being selected and rewarded for what they’ve done that year. In football, that’s what we’re all about – trying to win and appreciating, if you come second, how good the people who beat you are. So, I always enjoy awards nights because every industry is different, but people celebrate and there’s always a good atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to the event and meeting people because every time you meet new people, you learn something new.
What’s your view of the UK meat industry’s performance during the pandemic?
It’s coped very well with it. You keep hearing that there are going to be problems and reading things in the papers, that some supplies are going to be affected, but it seems the meat industry always survives and sometimes you wonder how! It keeps reinventing itself. We’re living in times when people are looking at meat and diet, and every industry is under scrutiny. But from what I gather, the meat industry has coped with the pandemic very well and seems to be coming out the other side even stronger.
Tell us about your favourite cut of meat.
I’m a steak man and I like to barbecue. If anyone has supported the meat industry this year, it’s been my family. With the good weather, we had a run of about five barbecues in six days. We have a good local butcher, so we support him and get meat cut for the barbecue. I would say that steak is my favourite, but I like a lamb chop and a sausage on the barbecue.
Do you consider yourself to be a good cook?
My wife Jean does all the cooking, I’m just the barbecue man – they don’t trust me with anything else. But over the years I’ve learned the art of the barbecue, the internet is great for that. I used to cook meat too much, burning it and doing the wrong things. Now, however, I’ve become an ‘internet chef’ almost on the barbecue by trying different things and it’s amazing what you can do. I’m still learning but I’m only 70, so I’ve got time.
Have footballers’ diets changed much since your playing days?
Diets have changed massively. At the start of my career, back in the late 1960s or early 1970s, we used to have a steak before the match and sometimes chips. It suddenly changed in the 1970s as more foreign players came over; the pre-match meals had less meat before a game. So, the thinking that you could have a steak at 12pm when you were playing at 3pm went. It’s the night before and the week before that you need meat.
Of course, I played in Germany and they were the same – you wouldn’t eat meat directly before the match, except maybe a little chicken. It’s more about pastas and foods like that before the game now.
“With football, the difference between winning and losing is a referee’s decision, or the thickness of a post or crossbar. So, in football, as in life, if you can get that close then you can get a step further.”Kevin Keegan
Did you enjoy England’s recent performance at Euro 2020?
Like everybody, we all jumped on the bandwagon and felt that if ever it was going to be, it would be this year. But it was good to see the nation get behind the team and the press wasn’t criticising everybody; it was trying to build them up instead of knocking them down. I thought that was a big plus this year; a lot more positivity and not so much negativity, which has been a problem in the past.
It got the nation going at a time when everybody needed a boost and some great news. For a long time, right up until the final, they got it. The team just couldn’t make the final stride. But there’s a World Cup coming up very quickly so there will be an opportunity to get the nation behind them again.
What advice would you give those who don’t win first prize, in football or in life?
With football, the difference between winning and losing is a referee’s decision, or the thickness of a post or crossbar. So, in football, as in life, if you can get that close then you can get a step further. When I was at Liverpool, we won the League three times in six years, but we were also second twice and third once and we played just as well in those seasons. We lost by a point – what’s one point over a season? Sometimes it’s about very small margins. But at least you know that if you can get that close, you are good enough.
What is your own proudest achievement?
I was lucky and so there have been a lot. But the one that stands out above any other is when I was selected for the England national side. I walked out with number seven and the three lions on my shirt and thought, ‘Wow, you’re the best in England.’ I never thought that would happen to me. The manager was Sir Alf Ramsey and my captain Bobby Moore led me out. Although I didn’t play a lot in that era – in 1966 I was still at school – I got to be a part of it as it was coming to an end. So, that’s my proudest moment. I don’t think there’s anything better than being selected for your country.
The winners of the Meat Management Industry Awards 2021 will be revealed on 9th September at The Hilton Birmingham Metropole, hosted by Kevin Keegan OBE. To book tickets or a table go to https://meatmanagement.com/awards-tickets/.
Look out for the special awards brochure inside the forthcoming October issue of Meat Management when all winners and winning products will be reviewed.