Michael Kennedy, the London solicitor who advised Roy Keane and a host of other Irish soccer professionals for decades, has passed away. He was in his seventies.
Kennedy was born in the north London suburb of Highgate to Irish parents. Kennedy was an avid soccer player as a boy, playing the game to junior level before deciding to devote his time to law.
He ended as a partner with London legal firm Herbert Reeves but retained his interest in soccer. He was a season ticket holder at Highbury and acted as secretary of a local club in the North London League when, after a meeting one night, he got to know an Irish accountant called Tony Beatty.
Some time later, Beatty introduced Kennedy to a young Irish defender who had joined Arsenal, David O’Leary.
“When I bought my first house, I needed a solicitor, as everyone does when they get a place,'' O'Leary told The Sunday Tribune some years ago.
“I went along to Michael and he helped me. Then, when I signed a contract with Arsenal, I asked him to have a look at it for me. At this stage, I've been with him for 24 years.’'
Kennedy's sure handling of O’Leary’s affairs wasn’t his only contact with the world of professional soccer.
Players such as Ray Wilkins, Frank Stapleton, Pat Jennings, Kevin Moran, Michael Thomas, Niall Quinn, Denis Irwin, and Steve Staunton were all represented and helped by Kennedy over the years - they would be joined in time by the likes of Dave Connolly, Ian Harte, Harry Kewell, Alan Smith, and Stephen McPhail.
Kennedy was averse to publicity and never sought the limelight. Although he assisted many players over the years with their contract negotiations with clubs, he is understood to have accepted tickets for games instead of an agent’s fee.
Kennedy’s association with Roy Keane was what he was best known for.
For instance, when Keane was controversially sent home from Saipan before the 2002 World Cup began in Japan, Kennedy was one of his closest advisers in the tumultuous period which followed.
Three years later, Kennedy travelled to Madrid to hammer out a deal that would have taken Keane from Manchester United to Real Madrid on an 18-month contract, but the player opted to play for Glasgow Celtic instead.