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Soccer

"You're right, I did punch you!" | Giles and Keegan recall that punch

Remembered for his technical ability on the ball, John Giles was also well able to look after him...



Soccer

"You're right, I did punch you!" | Giles and Keegan recall that punch

Remembered for his technical ability on the ball, John Giles was also well able to look after himself in the heart of a Leeds United side nicknamed 'Dirty Leeds'. 

Perhaps no game in his career is as representative of that ability – or as infamous – as when Giles' Leeds United took on Kevin Keegan's Liverpool in the 1974 Charity Shield.

Furiously chasing down Leeds in possession, Keegan came into the back of the Irish midfielder after the ball had moved on, leading Giles to turn, swing and floor the Liverpool star.

However, as they say, time is a great healer, and to celebrate Giles' 80th birthday this week, OTB Sports brought the two former rivals together to recount the incident and their battles against each other.

"Howayadoin, how's your jaw?" Giles immediately piped up when Keegan joined himself and Nathan Murphy on tonight's show.

With pleasantries exchanged, talk soon turned to one of the most infamous moments of Giles' career on the pitch.

"I seem to remember you punching me?" Keegan enquired.

"I did, you're right. I did punch you, but can you remember what happened before that?" Giles hit back with a smirk.

Arguing that he could only remember the aftermath of being knocked to the floor, Giles was obliging to fill in the gaps for his opponent on the day.

"It didn't happen by accident. You had a terrible tackle on Norman Hunter, you had a terrible tackle on Billy Bremner, the ball broke loose and you were all over me so I let you go past and I punched you," Giles explained.

While that should have been a sending-off even in a time of more lenient refereeing, the man in the middle, Bob Matthewson, was always on good terms with the Leeds midfielder.

"I always got on well with him," Giles told Keegan, "and when you were on the ground I was apologising to Mathewson and I said, 'Sorry about that, I didn't mean that.'

"And he let me off – there was no doubt I should have gone off," Giles added.

Keegan recalled his own memories: "When you hit me, he was so friendly with you that he said to me, 'Don't do that to him again.' And you hit me!"

With relations repaired and the pair laughing over the "skirmish", Keegan and Giles also recounted just how tough games were between the sides.

"Liverpool-Leeds was a battle in more ways than one, but they were always great games to play in," Keegan observed.

"Leeds got this label 'Dirty Leeds' but make no mistake about it Leeds United, the Don Revie side that Gilesy played in, with Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and all the great players, they were a fantastic side.

"They could hurt you, they could stand up to any challenge but they could play as well.

"You only have to look at what they won and what they nearly won. Every time they didn't win something they were runners-up."


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Charity Shield John Giles Kevin Keegan Leeds United Liverpool OTBGiles80