Call me Steve McRANAMAN; Kop ace's now on track for world glory; The Saturday Interview.
Liverpool's skinny Superman has revealed to Mirror Sport how he almost ended up alongside Linford Christie and Roger Black in the starting blocks.
Instead his path took him to Liverpool and a place in Glenn Hoddle's World Cup squad.
McManaman is soccer's Metabolic Man. That's the codeword for McManaman who could eat for England.
The Liverpool raider is nicknamed "Shaggy" after the scrawny character in the kids TV cartoon Scooby Doo.
He is already a champion in the metabolism stakes. His voracious appetite for food and ability to burn off the calories is a modern, medical marvel.
If they tied a pedometer to Anfield's running man he'd cover the equivalent distance to circling the earth over the course of a season!
He admits: "I eat all the time particularly after a game. I've got to replace my energy.
"I'm lucky I can eat anything I want - cream cakes, chips the lot - and I just don't put on any weight. I've actually tried to put weight on but it's no use."
McManaman is blessed with the heart, lungs and legs of a marathon man plus a God-given talent for controlling a ball. It makes him an awesome opponent.
If he wasn't starring for England, Macca could have been ended up representing his country in last month's Olympics.
In his schooldays he was a cross country champion - and once beat 1,500m star Curtis Robb.
He recalls: "I didn't know it at the time but his coach has since told me that I beat Curtis when we were kids.
"I was a decent runner at school and, without wishing to sound to sound too conceited, I won virtually everything I entered.
"I presume I could have taken up athletics seriously and I even went to a Liverpool Harriers training session once - but football was always my first choice.
"I never get tired in a game. Distance running has never been a problem for me.
"I could literally run all day, as many miles as you want.
"That obviously helps my football, particularly in the free role I play for Liverpool."
McMANAMAN'S other key quality is his amazing temperament. His love of running with the ball leaves him an open target for the game's hatchet men - but he never loses his rag.
He added: "If someone kicks me, I just get up and get on with it. It's a sport, you know, fellow professionals. I'm not one for getting angry on the pitch.
"But I do hate bad drivers. I'm also the biggest hypocrite in the world because I'm probably one of the worst."
Team-mate Jamie Redknapp is bowled over by McManaman's lung and leg power.
Fellow England star Redknapp insisted: "He's the most complete athlete I've seen in football.
"He's got fantastic stamina and pace but he's so strong as well, it's impossible to get the ball off him.
"He's great to have in your side. You get the ball, give it to him and he does the rest."
McManaman is only 24 but has been with Liverpool for a decade - signing for them initially as a schoolboy when Kenny Dalglish was boss - and has already clocked up around 250 games.
His greatest fan, and critic, is his dad, Dave.
Macca said: "My family played a large part in helping to keep my feet on the ground and my dad, in particular, has been a great help to me.
"He has been to watch me in virtually every game I have played since the age of seven.
"Although he is an Evertonian, as I was, he is still there for every match.
"He's my biggest critic and my biggest supporter. After every game we have a long discussion about how I've played."
McManaman is a leading member of Anfield's young, talented and wealthy "brat pack."
ALONG with half-a-dozen of his team-mates they own a race horse called "Some Horse" and certainly know how to have a good time.
He added: "We all get on along well on and off the pitch. There's a great team spirit and I think it shows.
"I share a room on trips with Robbie Fowler. I think he's crackers but then he thinks the same about me.
"I have quietened down a lot since my younger days and I'm probably playing better football because of it.
"I go shopping, to the pictures and concerts, stuff like that. I'm pretty boring really.
"I like to go home after training, see my family and spend time with them."
McManaman may claim to be Mr. Ordinary off the pitch but his skills on it are attracting admiring glances from all over Europe.
Spanish giants Barcelona are already hot on his trail, and AC Milan defender Marcel Desailly reckons he would be a big hit in Italy.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 24, 1996|
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