A club great

Kevin Beattie was an English professional footballer who played at both professional and international levels, mostly as a centre-half.

He spent the majority of his playing career at Ipswich Town, with whom he won both the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup and was also named the inaugural Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year at the end of the 1972–73 season, also featuring in the film Escape to Victory alongside many of his Ipswich teammates.

Beattie has been called Ipswich Town’s best ever player by many pundits and polls. Former Ipswich (and later England) manager Bobby Robson called him the best England player he had seen.

Image Courtesy of EADT

Career highs

“Beat” arrived at Portman Road as a 15 year old and progressed through the youth ranks, making his debut against Manchester United in 1972.

Beattie went on to make 296 appearances for the club, scoring 32 goals and consistently finished at the top of supporters’ polls as Ipswich Town’s top player of all time.

He was a PFA Young Player of the Year, an FA Cup and Uefa Cup winner and won nine caps for England.

Off the pitch, Beattie featured in the 1981 film Escape to Victory. His skills were shown on the pitch as the body double for Michael Caine’s prisoner-of-war character, and the two became friends. Beattie had a cooler relationship with fellow co-star Sylvester Stallone however, later saying “There weren’t too many that got on that well with him and after I beat him in an arm wrestle — first my right arm and then my left – he didn’t speak to me again”.

The beast

Beattie was renowned for his strength, the nickname “Beast” reflecting that, but also his quality on the ball. Robson also described him as “the quickest defender I ever saw … with a left foot like a howitzer”.

At Colchester, Perry Groves noted that Beattie’s only shortcoming appeared to be his inability to throw the ball far, stating, “even into his thirties and with his knees all shot, he was still the quickest player at the club over ten yards by a long way.”  Groves also recalls Robson’s summary of Beattie’s strengths as a player:

“What a player the boy was… He could climb higher than the crossbar and still head the ball down. He had the sweetest left foot I’ve ever seen and could hit 60-yard passes, without looking, that eliminated six opposition players from the game. He had the strength of a tank, was lightning quick and he could tackle.”

Bacon and eggs

During his years with Ipswich, Beattie formed a central defensive partnership with Allan Hunter. Robson described them as ‘Bacon and eggs’, and when interviewed in 2018, Hunter talked about their partnership, saying:

“We just gelled and if I went and done things to attack the ball he was always behind me – and vice-versa. We didn’t need to work at it because it was something that came naturally … We were just a good partnership … me and Beat would be sitting on the other side of a room from each other and we would know what the other was thinking because there were times I would, or he would, burst out laughing and the boys would say, what you bloody laughing at? And we would say “mind your own business” … It helped on the field because we didn’t even have to talk because we knew each other’s play.”

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