Liverpool and Real Madrid legend Steve McManaman eagerly awaits ‘competitive’ return of Masters football

liverpool and real Madrid Legend Steve McManaman is looking forward to the return Masters Football series this weekend and expects a “competitive” but nonetheless “enjoyable” evening of action.

On July 8, a star-studded one-night tournament will take place at a sold-out Braehead Arena in Glasgow.

Legendary players from four of the biggest names in British football will compete for the 360 ​​Sports TV Masters Cup, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Celtic and Rangers taking part.

Image: Masters Football
Image: Masters Football

The quartet of teams will mingle on the iconic blue grass for two eight-minute halves – with the top two from the group playing the final.

Two-time Champions League winner McManaman is one of the stars to sign up and expects plenty of excitement from the Over-35 tournament.

McManaman told SPORTbible: “It’s great. I wasn’t involved at the start because I was probably still playing.

“But since then one of the owners, Steve Black, who I’ve known for a while, and I’ve played in a lot of his games over the last 10 years.

“But normally we play in Singapore, or Hong Kong, Thailand or Malaysia, you know, the Far East, where, of course, Liverpool and Manchester United,

“And we went there a lot, played against each other and played a Chelsea team or an Arsenal team or a combined team. And we always had a good time.

“And the fact that he’s back and that he’s back in this country – I think there’s been a lot of interest in that – is really great.

“I think as long as people are sane, and we take it for what it is, it should be an enjoyable night.

“I think sometimes five-a-side or six-a-side football is a bit sharper. Nowadays when you play 11 on a big pitch it gets a bit slow and a lot harder to watch because of course it’s not the pace of a normal game. Five-man tricks should be fairly quick.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

“Assessing his team, McManaman said: ‘The likes of Stewart Downing, I think he’s in his mid to late thirties, he’s just retired so he should be fitter than me or Jamie Carragher.

“I played a lot of exhibition games like the older boys from Liverpool against the older boys from Real Madrid. And I like that if everyone wants to play or if people want to get involved in different eras, I’m more than happy for that to happen.

“I love the fact that I play for Liverpool and that Alan Kennedy wants to play at 67 – because he was such an integral part of Liverpool history – he scored in two European Cup finals.

“If he wants to play and he feels he can run and play, even if it’s for 10-15 minutes, you should play.

“It’s the same with them with Real Madrid when it happens, I’ve played with Emilio Butragueno and people like that – different times than when I’ve played but if they’re fit and want run, they are absolutely superstars.”

It’s 22 years since McManaman scored a superb volley for Real in the Champions League final and 17 since hanging up his boots.

But he has been a regular at Liverpool’s charity matches and although he has now reached half a century in life, the former England international still feels like he has a lot in the tank.

He added: “Physically, I am fine. I’m trying to stay in shape, COVID comes and suddenly you lose two or three years.

“I’m 50 now, so when you say the number 50 you suddenly feel like it’s really old in football to some extent.

“I still feel capable of running, I still go to the Liverpool academy and join the kids there, so I still feel good.

“I expect some of the players there to be a lot sharper and a lot faster than me, but in terms of fitness and the ability to run and not get tired, I’m still very good. in that stuff.”

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

Those who made it to the return of the Masters Football event are thankfully retired, but the drive to win and be the best is still very much there.

McManaman believes this approach never leaves a player and has pointed to Jamie Carragher’s competitive edge in recent Soccer Aid outings.

Image: Alamy
Image: Alamy

“When you start these games, you always want to win, don’t you? You don’t want to be ridiculed for losing by three, four, five goals.

“I think the old players have this mantra that if you’re going to come in and play a game, you might as well win it. It’s always with you all the time. You’ll always make a tackle or you’ll always try to score the goal and to try to win.

“And you’re more than happy if you win the trophy at the end – even if it’s about spraying a bottle of champagne, you’d rather do that than finish last of four. There’s always that competitive advantage .

“I saw him in one of the Soccer Aid games recently and he always likes to put his foot in it and doesn’t like anyone stepping past him.

“If you come up against someone who’s faster than you and a bit snappier because they’re younger than you, you don’t want them to ridicule you, so you always want to make sure they know that you are here.”

July 8 should serve as a trial run of sorts, as there are already plans for a full-scale tournament with regional rounds in the usual Masters Football format in 2023.

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