Kevin Keegan toasted taking Fulham closer to the top flight after the Whites sealed promotion from the Second Divsion and insisted: “I could never give this up – not even for England.”
Keegan, who led Fulham into Division One thanks to a 3-0 win over Gillingham, sent a message to England that he is only prepared to continue to manage the national team on a part-time basis. Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed has offered Keegan a £15,000-a-week three-year deal to keep him at Craven Cottage beyond next summer
Keegan, whose side require three more points to clinch the Second Division title, said: “I will honour my contract. I will promise you that. I will be involved here next season, I’ve never said I wouldn’t be. The England situation remains the same – that will look after itself.”
Keegan revealed he got a call from FA chief executive David Davies just before the game – but only to wish him luck.
Keegan said: “The FA understand my situation. They are not putting pressure on me. We’ve seen tonight how wonderful Fulham is. This makes me even more convinced that Fulham has to remain part of my career.It is the same now as it’s always been. I’ve got until the end of the season with Fulham and three more England games. We’ll review it again after that.”
Keegan was involved in some wild celebrations after goals by Barry Hayles, Chris Coleman and Geoff Horsfield. He joined Al Fayed and the players on a lap of honour.
The players soaked Keegan in champagne while Al Fayed waved his scarf in front of the adoring fans.
Keegan added: “This tastes as good as anything I’ve experienced before. Some people think that if you do it in front of 50 or 60,000 fans then it makes it better. It doesn’t. It’s just as special in front of 13,000 fans.
“We’ve now got 93 points and I would love to go on and beat the points record of 102.
“We are going up into the first division and we will not be frightened.”
FULHAM (5-3-2): M. Taylor; J. Smith, Brevett, Albert (Morgan 87), Coleman, Symons; Finnan, Hayward, Trollope (N. Smith 45); Horsfield, Hayles (Peschisolido 87).
GOALS: Hayles (22), Coleman (81), Horsfield (88).
GILLINGHAM (4-4-2): Bartram; Patterson, Galloway (Hodge 70), Butters, Ashby (Carr 89); Hessenthaler, Pennock, Southall, P. Smith; Lisbie (Asaba 14), B. Taylor.
REFEREE: Eddie Wolstenholme (Preston).