13th – Richard Keogh
Has there ever been a player who has divided opinion amongst Derby fans more than Richard Keogh?
Whilst there is no debate at all about his wholehearted playing style and commitment to the cause, some fans love him whilst others can’t stand him and feel he is synonymous with everything that’s gone wrong on the pitch since 2014.
Keogh was originally signed by Nigel Clough in 2012 as a direct replacement for Jason Shackell, a situation that bizarrely went full circle when Shackell was re-signed in 2015 as a direct replacement for Keogh. However, typical of Keogh, he re-found his form and confidence and saw off the triple threat of Shacks, Pearce and Baird to retain his place at the heart of the DCFC defence.
It’s an obvious fact that there has been no shortage of defensive calamity in recent DCFC history and more often than not Keogh is somewhere at the centre of it. The key question is though was he directly responsible for the general chaos, a reckless player who breeds havoc and uncertainty on all around him. Or was he just the only one who gave a shit and was thus always the despairing last man, surrounded by a string of hopeless full backs, limited centre back partners and having absolutely no defensive midfield cover whatsoever for about 4 years (John Eustace excluded).
Personally I’m a fan. I love his desire, his 110% commitment, his slightly unhinged, demonstrable style of play, his suicide runs into midfield, his aggressive angular through balls, the mental post match celebrations. He’s also responsible for the single greatest piece of defending I have ever seen in live football, when he made an astonishing goal line clearance from Rondon against West Brom in the FA Cup win last season.
Some fans will never get past his error against QPR, but I would suggest Steve McClarens inexplicable decision not to play Craig Bryson in that game was much more responsible for that defeat than Keogh’s slip.
Whilst there are many Rams fans he will never win back. Surely everyone must agree it would be great to see Richard representing the Rams in the Premier League and final exorcising the Wembley ghost for good.