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Derby County: £1m Coventry City transfer agreement was a bargain

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Derby County are currently fighting it out for promotion back to the Championship, hoping to return to the division where they spent the entirety of the 2010s.

Throughout that period, the Rams endured two Championship play-off final defeats in 2014 and 2019 against Queens Park Rangers and Aston Villa, respectively.

Subsequently, the club faced financial turmoil, resulting in their relegation to League One in 2022.

Despite their lack of silverware, Derby County boasted a roster of exceptionally talented players throughout their Championship tenure. Particularly noteworthy was the 2018/2019 season, featuring standout talents such as Harry Wilson, Fikayo Tomori, and Mason Mount.

However, amidst the array of talent, one stalwart who remained a constant presence for the majority of the 2010s was Richard Keogh, proving to be an astute acquisition for the club.

Richard Keogh signs for Derby

Richard Keogh

Keogh, formerly a center-back with experience in the Championship playing for Coventry City, attracted attention from several Championship clubs after impressing despite Coventry’s relegation in 2012.

Cardiff City, Bristol City, Leeds United, and Derby were among the clubs vying for Keogh’s signature, but he ultimately joined Derby for £1 million, with Cardiff withdrawing from negotiations due to an inability to match Derby’s salary offer.

Over the next eight seasons at Pride Park, Keogh emerged as a linchpin in Derby’s defense after being named club captain immediately upon his arrival. Expressing his enthusiasm for the responsibility, he stated, “I thrive on the pressure. I feel it brings out the best in me. It’s something I look forward to, and I cannot wait to get out there and play.”

Remaining true to his words, Keogh made over 40 appearances in each of his seven full seasons with Derby, establishing himself as a consistent presence in the team. He claimed the club’s Player of the Year award in his debut season and led them to the play-off final the following year, despite a costly mistake that led to QPR’s decisive goal in injury time.

Keogh’s contributions didn’t go unnoticed, earning him a place in the Championship PFA Team of the Year in 2015 and repeating as the club’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year in 2016. His consistency and leadership were again recognized in 2019 when he was once more honored as Players’ Player of the Year, although it would mark his final full season with the club, ending with another play-off final disappointment.

Richard Keogh’s Derby stats (all competitions, as per FotMob)
Season Appearances Goals
19/20 8 0
18/19 57 3
17/18 45 1
16/17 48 1
15/16 49 1
14/15 53 0
13/14 47 1
12/13 49 5

Despite Keogh’s exit he should be remembered fondly

Richard Keogh

In September 2019, Keogh was involved in a car accident alongside teammates Mason Bennett and Tom Lawrence, resulting in a serious injury to himself, tearing his ACL and sidelining him for 15 months. As a consequence, his contract was terminated in October 2019.

Despite this setback, Keogh embarked on a journey to revive his career, featuring for various teams across the EFL upon his return. Currently, he is plying his trade in League Two with Forest Green Rovers.

Considering his substantial contribution of over 350 games for Derby County and his commendable performances, it’s undeniable that Keogh, acquired for a mere £1 million, represented a remarkable bargain and deserves to be remembered fondly.

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