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Just nine caps! Ipswich Town legend Kevin Beattie should have had so many more

PUBLISHED: 14:46 04 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:07 04 September 2017

Kevin Beattie, Allan Hunter and Robin Turner in celebratory mood after Town reach the 1978 FA Cup final

Kevin Beattie, Allan Hunter and Robin Turner in celebratory mood after Town reach the 1978 FA Cup final

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The Fuller Flavour: Karl Fuller takes a look at the England career of Town legend Kevin Beattie

Nice hats, lads! Allan Hunter and Kevin Beattie having a a whale of a time after the 1978 FA Cup final, with coach Cyril Lea. Nice hats, lads! Allan Hunter and Kevin Beattie having a a whale of a time after the 1978 FA Cup final, with coach Cyril Lea.

As England took on Malta on Friday evening, it was an opportunity to reflect on the England playing days of Town legend Kevin Beattie.

It was against Cyprus that the ‘Beat’ made his England debut in April 1975. This was the first of nine full caps and, but for numerous injuries, there could have been so many more.

“I was called up for around 100 squads but had to pull out of so many because of my injuries,” he recalls.

“In those days, if you had serious injuries, they probably kept you out for that bit longer than they do today.”

Despite his international career being somewhat hampered, he still talks of each game with much enthusiasm and of the managers he played for and the players he played with.

“They were great days and it was an absolute honour to play for my country,” Beattie enthused.

“I really loved playing for them and it’s a shame that it couldn’t have been more but I was just always injured.

A stricken Kevin Beattie leaves the pitch for the last time as an Ipswich Town player. After battling a succession of knee injuries, ironically it was a broken arm in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City in 1981 that spelled the end for a player who is consistently voted as Town's greatest. A stricken Kevin Beattie leaves the pitch for the last time as an Ipswich Town player. After battling a succession of knee injuries, ironically it was a broken arm in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City in 1981 that spelled the end for a player who is consistently voted as Town's greatest.

“It was actually Sir Alf Ramsey who was the first to call me up to a squad.

“He was obviously both an Ipswich man and fan and I was only 18 when he called me up for the experience which I’ve always been grateful for.

“Then following playing for the Under 23s nine times, I was called up for my debut against Cyprus by Don Revie.

“To play with so many great players was unbelievable. As we played against each other on Saturday’s we knew each other’s strengths and it was a pleasure to play with many great names for England.

“I roomed for one game with Kevin Keegan and I also roomed with Gordon Hill and Stan Bowles.”

“But it wasn’t just the top players that we played with, there were a lot of top players that I played against that I remember so well.

“I made my club debut for Ipswich against Manchester United who had George Best and Bobby Charlton. But on the international stage, there was none better than Johann Cruyff. Holland beat us 2-0, they tore us apart and Cruyff was superb.”

Kevin Beattie and former Town chairman David Sheepshanks Kevin Beattie and former Town chairman David Sheepshanks

So what does Beat remember about his debut?

He said: “We knew Cyprus would not be, let’s say, not the most difficult of opposition, but we still treated them with respect.

“We won 5-0, Malcolm MacDonald scored all five but I actually scored in that game too. Unfortunately, when the ball went in off my knee, I collided with their goalkeeper at the same time and knocked him out. The referee gave a free-kick and he had to be replaced.”

One game that stands out above all else is a meeting with Scotland just over a year later again at Wembley.

England won 5-1 and Beat was also on the scoresheet.

“That was a great game to be involved in and I’ll never forget the experience of beating Scotland 5-1 at Wembley,” he enthused.

“There is a little question I ask of Town fans about this game and that is which other Town player scored in this game?

“It was of course the first David Johnson that we had at the club.”

Beat reminisced about Ramsey, Don Revie and Ron Greenwood as all being ‘great’ men to play for and when we drifted onto today’s England set-up, we talked of the money involved in the game which was not something to think about back then.

“I got £100 a game to play for England but oddly enough, I got £300 a game by my boot sponsor,”he revealed.

“Yet I would have played for nothing as it was such an honour.”

And does Beat still watch England games today with the same passion as a fan?

“Oh yes, without a doubt. I watch all the games and hope they win as much as when I was playing!”

Beat’s final game for England came in October 1977, a 2-0 win over Luxembourg.

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