As chief pundit for ESPN’s football coverage, Kevin Keegan is used to doing the talking but it wasn’t his post-match analysis that Pocket-lint was looking for when we caught up with him at the launch of the ESPN Goals app at the Emirates Cup. Instead we wanted to plumb the place where his world famous perm once stood, to see just how far the 60-year-old ex-England superstar’s knowledge of technology goes.
Sitting down in the Royal Oak suite at Arsenal’s ground, with the backdrop of the home team taking on Boca Juniors, we thought we’d get things rolling with the basics but before we can ask him what mobile phone he uses, he proudly slaps his iPhone 4 on the table.
“It took me a while to get there but I’m there. I’ve got a few apps on there and things. My favourite app is Endomondo for my fitness. It tracks me where I run, how far I’ve done, it gives me a map of it. It’s pretty new stuff for me. Some people my age, they don’t want to embrace new technology and I’m one of those that wants to but it takes me a while. I’ve had this phone about 4 or 5 months and I’m just getting use to it. What a fantastic thing it is though.”
Who was persuading you to get one? Who’s the tech guru in your life?
"My kids. I’ve got a 28-year-old daughter and a 32-year-old daughter and they’ve got the same phone and I say to them, 'what’s happening here?' and they say, 'dad, it’s just like your computer,' and I have to say to them, 'slow down, there, slow down and let me just take this in.'
"Because we weren’t brought up on it or anything like that. We did mental arithmetic. Now they’ve got a calculator on there [points to his phone]. So, I really admire the older people who embrace technology especially those in their 70s and 80s, I think 'well done' but keeping up with technology is something you’ve got to do. You either go with the flow or you’re swimming against the tide. I spend a lot of time with my computers and my phone wanting to learn new stuff. I have to go steadily but I’ve got my music on here now and my diary in here now."
So you're managing to sync your calendar across? That's big league stuff.
"I haven’t quite learned how to sync it all yet. I'm putting it all in manually, but that’s my next lesson from my kids."
Have you a Mac at home to match your smartphone?
"No. I’m Windows. My daughter keeps telling me, 'Dad, you’ve got to get an Apple,” but I like Windows, I use Paint a lot and Word but Paint I’m really good in. I design a lot in Paint; mostly games for kids to play. Passing and other real life games but I do the basic design on Paint first. I use Paint a lot. I like Paint, but I’m not a geek."
It's ok to be a geek these days.
"Yeah, I know and I’m not a geek. Some of it baffles me still. The Notes app on my phone is good too. I put all my times down when I do my runs so I can see if I’m getting quicker or slower. Usually slower."
How do you get on with the analysis technology on the show? I hear ESPN have got some new kit for this season?
"Yeah, I haven't seen it yet. Robbie [Savage] will be more involved in that than I will be, but I’ll have to learn about it as well for when he’s not there. But you’ll be able to take a view of the game and turn it round to see what the referee or the linesman saw and see how they got it wrong. It’s a bit unfair because it’s still motion when we do it rather than when everything’s moving.
"But we won’t just use it because we’ve got it. Only when there’s a valid point to be made. The big question though is whether we'll get the technology for the goal line. There was an announcement this week that FIFA are going to have eight or nine companies tendering for it - they've said that it needs to be 100 per cent proof."
Is goal line technology something you'd like to see?
"I would but 100 per cent proof is asking a lot. So, whether they’re setting a task for people that’s impossible is another thing."
What about more technology elsewhere in the game?
"That’s all I’d like to see at this stage. If goal line works, then I’d be happy to look at other parts of football but I think it’s easier to see why it’s used in tennis and cricket - you know where the players are going to be, you know where they’re going to serve from, you know where the lines are, you know exactly where the bowler and the batsmen are going to be and the ball too. In football, the ball and players are all over the place."
So, you wouldn't like to see technology for offside, then?
"Offside would be an absolute nightmare. It’s a nightmare anyway. It’s always been a nightmare and it'll always be a nightmare. They did a survey and it said that most players didn’t even know the rule and it’s true. If you got a player to be a referee or referee's assistant, they’d get it wrong nine times out of ten."
What piece of technology would you invent to make the game better?
"Something to explain to people what the difference is between a great player and an average player. You could look at a normal run of the mill player and see the picture of what he knows is around him and that'll be just what's in front of his eyes. A better than average player can see that and maybe more at the sides as well, but a great player, they’ve got surround vision going round them. They know everything around them even when they’re looking forward.
"So, I’d like some technology to show that; some kind of point of view camera or, better still, something to show them what they’re thinking but I’m not sure that’s ever going to be possible."
With Robbie along side you this season, do you think he'll persuade you to get into Twitter?
"No. I don’t think so. I’m not sure that as a person I want to share all that information with other people. I e-mail but that’s about it. For me, technology is both exciting and quite frightening. There’s a good side and a bad side to it and we’re seeing both from Twitter right now. For a while, that’s a step too far to me. I do e-mail and text but I don’t do this quick, two thumb predictive text business."
And how about tablets...
"...I got one. I’ve got an iPad. I love it. It’s big, I can see it. When you get to 60, your eyes go a bit. The iPad’s fantastic. If I could just get a few more things on there."
"I want to get Paint on there. It'd be fantastic on the plane - so light - but taking a computer on board is a nightmare. So I’d like it to be a full blown computer, but like an iPad."
Well, they're pretty much like full blown computers already.
"But you can’t get Paint on there, can you?"
Well, no but I'm sure you could get a similar app...
"...yeah, but then it’s like starting from scratch again. That’s why I don’t want to switch from Windows."
Finally, how do you think the top four will look at the end of the season?
"City top. I'm going to go for Man United second; so big year for Manchester. Chelsea third and Liverpool fourth. So, I won't shout that too loud round here."
Thanks for your time Mr Keegan.
"Thank you. Nice talking to a geek."
The free to download and use ESPN Goals app will be out by the start of the season and bring videos of every goal from the Premier League to your smartphone.
And if you tune into the ESPN's football coverage, you'll get to hear both Kevin Keegan and Robbie Savage's thoughts on the games.