PEOPLE like myself in the game are just like supporters. You often wonder where some of your ex-players and staff are these days, knowing most of them are not playing anymore.

In the last few days, three of them caught my eye. Firstly Franny Benali – a legend at Southampton because of the length of time he played for his local side – who still lives in the area.

He was not perhaps the classiest player on the ball but he gave 110 per cent every time he stepped on the pitch and that is what the crowd always loved.

He played almost 400 times and at the time when I signed him, as a lad, he was playing up front for England schoolboys. In 389 games for us, he scored just once – so that showed what a good judge I was!

But he played in that full-back position and that’s where the crowd loved to see him. To see his charity work has been amazing, now raising over £1.3million for the fight against cancer.

To be rewarded with his MBE last year was fully deserved. Well done Franny, supporters might wish to continue to support his cause - you can do so on his website, found by searching his name.

I then had two phone calls out of the blue, Kevin Keegan and George Shipley. Neither of those two players had the length of time at the club that Franny had and they had very different careers.

Shipley was actually a product of my scouting crew in the north-east and had an apprenticeship with us but only played a small handful of times before moving on to Lincoln City and making 274 appearances!

That is what happened with the scouting system at the time, getting coached in the area they’re in and then joining you in the school holiday time. I then had to decide if they join us when they can and get an apprenticeship.

Shipley told me he still keeps in touch with Steve Williams, who also lives down in the Somerset area now. George likes to come and watch Southampton when they play Newcastle – of course, guess where he was from? Tyneside.

Kevin Keegan caught the eye of the whole football world when he surprisingly left Hamburg to come back to the top-flight in England. Most people were quite surprised that I had got in early and persuaded him to join us.

It helped me, of course, to say how there were already a couple of his teammates from the England setup – Alan Ball and Mick Channon – in the dressing room.

Kevin rang to say he was back in the area and he had actually been booked to speak at a function, and he spent all afternoon with me reminiscing and talking about both our times in the game.

In particular, when he joined us at Saints. He mentioned Graham Baker, a midfield player at the club who was a local lad and another product of our youth system, and Kevin loved his time as Ball and Channon were not only fellow internationals but long-standing friends.

He remembers well the crowd and loved the ground – The Dell, which was possibly one of the smallest he played in – and said the noise from the crowd made it feel like one of the biggest.

Kevin looks well and is travelling all around Europe, in fact, doing various functions and talking about all of the famous players he had played with. He’s often asked to turn up at business functions, where he would be asked to present prizes etcetera.

It is always nice to share fond memories from my time in the game with those I shared it. And you always want to see what they are doing and that they are feeling well. We look back at good times.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this article - we appreciate your support in reading the Daily Echo.

Subscribing to the Echo means you have unrestricted access to the latest news, features and Saints coverage - all with an advertising-light website.

You will also have full access to Saintsplus, your new home for Southampton FC tactical analysis, features and much, much more.

Don't just take my word for it - subscribe today.

Follow the latest breaking news in the Southampton area by searching Southampton News - Breaking News and Incidents on Facebook

Follow the latest court and crime news on our dedicated group by searching Hampshire Court and Crime News on Facebook