Roy Keane led Man Utd to trophy after trophy in the late nineties
Losing it at the World Cup
Keane was the captain of the Ireland team that qualified for the World Cup in 2002. It was a brilliant achievement after being in a difficult group that included Holland and Portugal.
Keane scored four goals in qualification as he raised his game for one last chance to go to a World Cup. When arriving at their World Cup base in Saipan, Keane was once again unhappy with Ireland’s preparation.
Firstly their training pitch wasn’t watered, and then he had a fall out with goalkeeping coach, Packie Bonner. It all came to a head when Keane revealed his feelings about the poor preparation in a newspaper interview.
Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy took offence to this and confronted Keane about it in front of the whole squad. Keane told McCarthy what he thought of him and his set up and walked out on the team.
“Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a f***ing w***er. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a f***ing w***er and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b******s.”
The outburst divided public opinion back in Ireland. Some people admired Keane for speaking out and sticking to his principles; others were outraged at his self-indulgence and lack of control, which jeopardised the country’s chances of progressing in the tournament.
Either way, it meant Keane had thrown away his final chance to play at a World Cup.
Long awaited revenge on Alfie Haaland
The bust up with McCarthy came as no surprise to most people in the game. As he got older, Keane increasingly became involved in various ugly incidents.
Keane’s darker side had come out during a 2001 game against Man City when was sent off for a disgraceful knee high tackle on Alfie Haaland.
There was a history between the two as four years earlier Keane had injured his cruciate ligaments attempting to tackle Haaland. Playing for Leeds at the time, Haaland stood over Keane as he lay in agony on the ground and accused him of feigning injury and called him a cheat.
Keane was out injured for over a year and spent many long, painful hours in the gym as part of his rehabilitation. His hatred of Haaland had a long time to fester within him. The years of anger were released in the tackle that got him sent off in 2001.
It was a terrible thing to do to a fellow professional. Keane was given a three game ban and fined £5,000 by the FA. He later was charged with bringing the game into disrepute, fined a further £150,000 and banned for five more matches after revealing his version of the incident in his book.
“I’d waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”
“My attitude was, f*** him. What goes around comes around. He got his just rewards. He f***ed me over and my attitude is an eye for an eye.”
Hitting out at ‘prawn sandwich brigade’
Keane’s outspoken views and brutal honesty meant he was even prepared to attack his own team mates and the fans who came to watch him.
He was ruthlessly single-minded and winning meant everything to him.
He felt that the club never moved forward after winning the treble and some of the players no longer had the desire to succeed. This led to several training ground bust ups with his team mates.
Keane also criticised some of United’s fans in December 2000 after a lack of vocal support during a 1-0 Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev.
He famously accused them of being more concerned with eating ‘their prawn sandwiches’ than watching the game. It was a swipe at what Keane considered as a new breed of football fans – business people who don’t really care about the game but want a corporate day out.
Leaving United after criticising team mates
Roy Keane was now the most senior player at United and criticised his team mates publicly when he felt it necessary. There was a feeling that Keane had become too big in the dressing room with no other players daring to question him.
He angered his manager when he criticised team mates John O’Shea, Alan Smith, Kieran Richardson and record signing, Rio Ferdinand on United’s own TV channel MUTV after a defeat at Middlesbrough.
“Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar.”
The growing suspicion that he was now doing the team more harm than good by damaging morale with his public criticisms was confirmed when Alex Ferguson let him leave the club in November 2005.
Ending his career at Celtic
Keane ended his playing career at Celtic after joining in January 2006. His debut was a disaster as Celtic were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by lower league team, Clyde.
He, and the team, recovered to win the Scottish Premier League and League Cup double before Keane retired in the summer to end a 17-year career.