11th February 1980 in a room in a local hotel, packed full of journalists sat in anticipation of what was going to be the biggest transfer in world football that year.
None of them knew who they would be seeing. They didnâ€™t even know what it was about. They just knew they should be there.
Lawrie McMenemy, Southamptonâ€™s likeable Geordie boss had kept it all a secret, but had done a great job in convincing Fleet Street editors they really couldnâ€™t afford to miss out. Their charges had no idea who would be walking through the door but they were assured it would be a big name.
â€œSomeone who was going to play a big part in Southamptonâ€™s futureâ€.
With the room thick with anticipation, eventually a figure appeared through the door. In front of opened mouthed hacks, in walked the biggest name in European football at the time. Kevin Keegan.
Kevin Keegan was one of the most popular players around the continent. A former England captain, heâ€™d won league and European trophies with Liverpool before making a rather surprising move to the Bundesliga. After a tough start heâ€™d been influential in Hamburgâ€™s first Bundesliga title for 19 years.
He was double European Footballer of the Year (now known as the Ballon Dâ€™Or) at the end of the 1970s. Ever the man to wear his heart on his sleeve, it was common knowledge he was ready to move again out of West Germany.
Speculation was rife around Europe as to where he might end up next. Juventus? Real Madrid? Or back at Anfield?
Liverpool had first refusal, based on the deal they struck with Hamburg. Keegan had been open with his employers from the start of the 1976-77 season in letting the club know he wanted to move on. There was no malice on either part. He just felt heâ€™d achieved as much as he could at Anfield and wanted to challenge himself abroad.
After the movement of several players abroad in the sixties, there had been few high profile names making the trip from Britain to the continent.
Thereâ€™s little doubt it broadened him as a person and a player. Some of his best performances in an England shirt came during this period where northern West Germany was his home.
Initially heâ€™d signed for two years, but once the Bundesliga title was secured Keegan did what heâ€™d done at Liverpool. He let the club know this would be his final season, and agreed he would give his all in a European Cup bid then move on. He wasnâ€™t one to stand still.
These were pre-Bosman days when clubs held virtually all the cards. For Keegan the club would set the fee they were expecting to receive and it was up to others to match this valuation.
Â£500,000 was how much Hamburg wanted. It was exactly the same amount theyâ€™d paid Liverpool three years earlier. Then it had doubled the German transfer record and set a new one in England. Keegan was nearing his 30th birthday and back then this represented an age when he was leaving his greatest playing days behind.
As soon as news broke Keegan was available a host of Spanish clubs pricked up their ears. But the player was more interested in Italy. He fancied learning Italian too, having become fluent in German.
Negotiations with Juventus reached an advanced stage, when suddenly Keeganâ€™s wife, Jean, put a spanner in the works. She didnâ€™t want to go to Italy.
At the time the news was full of stories of kidnappings and terrorism in Italy. The Keegans now had a young daughter and clearly Jean was concerned more with where they were going to live than Kevin was with where he was going to play football.
Finally, she gave him an ultimatum.
â€œYou can go to Italy, but I am going back to Englandâ€.
What husband can kick against that?
So, England it was to be. But where?
As mentioned earlier, when he left Liverpool the contract heâ€™d negotiated gave them first refusal. But the club was a different one in 1980 from the one heâ€™d left in 1977. When Keegan said his goodbyes on Merseyside, the club didnâ€™t have a replacement set up. But club secretary, Peter Robinson, received a tip Kenny Dalglish was keen to move south of the border. Once enquiries were made, the transfer was arranged and the start of a beautiful relationship was set in motion. A second European Cup, a record-breaking league title, with another one on the way. Dalglish had driven the team further than his predecessor. He offered a different option up front to Keegan. And Keegan knew it.
In his autobiography Keegan explained how he didnâ€™t want to sign for one of the big clubs, he wanted a new challenge.
As he was still deliberating over where he received, what he thought at the time was, an innocent telephone call. It was Lawrie McMenemy.
McMenemy had been in charge at The Dell for almost seven years. In 1976 when they were a Second Division club, they beat Manchester United to lift their first major honour, the FA Cup. Three years later they were at Wembley again, this time losing to Brian Cloughâ€™s Nottingham Forest in the League Cup Final.
By Christmas 1979 he was putting together the pieces of a side which would eventually finish second to Liverpool in the league a few years later. Their highest ever finish.
He had some promising youngsters and was keen to surround them with experienced professionals. Alan Ball, Mick Channon, Dave Watson and Charlie George were already there, along with Chris Nicholl. Keegan would add to this experience.
McMenemy had called Keegan on the pretext of buying a special light-fitting for his house in Hampshire which was produced by a Hamburg factory.
McMenemy had read in the paper Keegan had agreed just one more year at Hamburg and was then looking to move. He read the speculation over Juventus and Real Madrid. Ever the dreamer, he couldnâ€™t help wondering how much better his side would be with the England captain in their ranks.
He was in the process of moving house and the architect had an idea for a light on the stairs but said there was a problem over the fitting in that it had to come from Germany. Once he told McMenemy the factory was in Hamburg suddenly there was the lightbulb moment.
McMenemy called Keegan and told him about the light and wondered if Keegan could get it for him and bring it over on one of his England days.
About a week later he called again and this time he asked the player about his future. Eventually he asked him whether heâ€™d consider Southampton. Keegan didnâ€™t say yes or no, just listened.
There were a few more calls and then McMenemy arranged a meeting in London when Keegan came over for England duty. They had a long discussion and eventually Keegan asked if he had a contract he could sign. Fortunately, the club executive with him had a blank contract which Keegan duly signed.
â€œJust one thingâ€, Keegan suddenly announced.
â€œYes?â€ said McMenemy nervously.
â€œI forgot your light fittingâ€.
McMenemy did an incredible job of keeping the transfer quiet. These were the days long before transfer windows so players could discuss moves throughout the season. Keegan wouldnâ€™t be joining until the current season was over, but the deal was struck in February.
The Potters Heron Hotel near Romsey was the venue for the press conference.
No one had any idea who was going to walk through that door. Not even when he landed at Southampton airport did anyone twig. Keegan was well known for doing many publicity engagements, so he was able to pass through without anyone putting two-and-two together.
Of course, these days youâ€™d never keep a signing like that quiet. What with 24 hour rolling news channels and social media. But McMenemy commanded trust from his staff and so nothing leaked out.
Even the club chairman knew nothing of it, can you imagine that? The only board member McMenemy had told was the financial director, who was there at the meeting with Keegan in London.
McMenemy said a few words to the press, some of whom thought they might even be announcing details of ground improvements or even a move. There was a knock on the door and in walked Mr and Mrs Keegan.
There were audible gasps from the room and then the journalists clapped, possibly in admiration for the Southampton boss pulling such a stunt right under their noses.
McMenemy has subsequently revealed how he phoned Liverpool secretary, Peter Robinson, and asked him whether they would be making a bid to get Keegan back to Anfield. Robinsonâ€™s reply was
â€œNo we wonâ€™t be signing him, definitely, we donâ€™t need himâ€.
McMenemy then began his own brand of negotiation.
Keeganâ€™s motives for the move were that he saw Southampton as a club with plenty of potential and some of his best friends in football were there, particularly Channon.Â He really felt they could become a much bigger club. He believed they represented a similar challenge to the one heâ€™d just navigated with Hamburg.
Keegan couldâ€™ve had the pick of possibly any club in the world and, at age 29 he certainly had plenty to offer. Yet he plumped for a rather unfashionable club.
Southampton joined the League in 1920 and in the 52 seasons to that point theyâ€™d only competed in the top Division for 10 of those with seventh being their highest ever finish.
These were heady days down on the south coast and the home fans were about to watch some of the finest football theyâ€™d ever seen. Keegan enjoyed the experience claiming in his autobiography they re-named the club, Southampton Funball Club. They achieved their highest ever finish, sixth in his first season. They beat Nottingham Forest (European Cup holders), Manchester United, Leeds United and Arsenal and towards the end of March they were sitting in third but unable to capitalise on this performance.
The Dell was full nearly every week, and many of the grounds they visited had their highest attendances. Such was the attraction of Kevin Keegan.
In his second season on the south coast Keegan had his finest ever campaign in front of goal. 26 goals saw him head the First Division goalscoring charts. It also earned him the PFA Players Player of the Year.
In the end, Southampton werenâ€™t able to match the ambition theyâ€™d lead Keegan to believe they harboured. He left for an equally stunning transfer when he joined Second Division Newcastle United. The team heâ€™d helped mould pushed Liverpool all the way in 1984 and finished 2nd. Their highest League finish to date.
Football was just starting to open up to TV and the wider media. Yet McMenemy had grown up with football being less about image and more about substance. You could see there was something particularly satisfying for the Gateshead-born old stager in showing he could still keep the press guessing if he wanted to. Watch any clips of the event and you cannot fail to notice a genuine glint in his eye as he explains how he pulled off one of the shocks of the decade.
Oh, and apparently if you go to his Hampshire home you will still see the lamp there which started the whole thing off.