Roy Keane won the double with Man Utd in the 1993/4 season
Keane had become an Irish international regular during his rise in the game and was part of Jack Charlton’s World Cup squad for the finals in the USA in 1994.
He played the full 90 minutes in all of their games in the finals as the Irish progressed to the second phase of the tournament before being eliminated by Holland.
Ireland played with a tremendous team spirit that helped them beat eventual finalists Italy 1-0 in their opening game and they returned from the tournament as heroes to the Irish fans.
Keane was unhappy with the disorganised and unprofessional manner in which the Irish team prepared for games in the tournament. However, he kept these feelings to himself as he was still an inexperienced youngster surrounded by seasoned internationals. However, that frustration would later explode in spectacular fashion.
New era at Old Trafford
The following season with Man Utd was deemed a failure as they came second in the league to Blackburn and lost the FA Cup Final 1-0 to Everton to finish the season trophyless.
In the summer of 1995 Alex Ferguson sold three of his first team regulars as Paul Ince, Mark Hughes and Andrei Kanchelskis all left the club.
Ferguson had faith in the group of players that had progressed through the club’s youth system. David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary and Phil Neville were promoted to the first team squad meaning Keane was now one of the more senior figures in the dressing room.
After a defeat to Aston Villa on the first day of the season, BBC pundit Alan Hansen famously said on Match of the Day, “You don’t win anything with kids” as a criticism of Alex Ferguson. Time would prove this was a foolish statement from Hansen.
United won the league and cup double. They overhauled Newcastle to win the title after trailing by 12 points midway through the season. An Eric Cantona goal was enough to beat Liverpool 1-0 in the FA Cup Final giving Keane his fourth trophy in three years at Old Trafford.
Manchester United captain
After captaining the team to another title in the 1996/97 season, Eric Cantona retired leaving the United captaincy vacant. Alex Ferguson gave the job to Keane, who unfortunately missed much of the season through injury. Arsenal, now managed by Arsene Wenger, won the Premier League and FA Cup double.
With Manchester United and Arsenal the two main forces in the English game, Keane had many ferocious clashes with Patrik Vieira. This rivalry became a feature of the matches between the sides as the two midfield warriors battled for supremacy.
Keane returned fit and ready for the 1998/99 season and played like a warrior in the middle of the pitch, driving his team to victory week after week.
He was surrounded by gifted attacking players so Keane could concentrate on protecting his defence and destroying the spirit of United’s opponents. Keane’s game enabled his attackers to score the goals. However, when they drew a blank, Keane had the happy knack of finding the net himself to break the deadlock in crucial matches.
Winning the historic treble
United won an historic treble of Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League that season. Keane’s finest hour came in the Champions League semi final second leg away at Juventus.
The first leg had been drawn 1-1 at Old Trafford leaving the tie in the balance. United found themselves 2-0 down after just 12 minutes of the second leg and were staring at defeat.
Keane played the game of his life dominating the middle of the pitch and refusing to accept defeat. He scored on 24 minutes to get his team back into the tie and drove his team forward.
He got booked, meaning that if United did qualify for the final, he would be suspended and unable to play. Nevertheless, he continued to inspire his team mates and led them to victory with United eventually winning the game 3-2.
United won the final against Bayern Munich in dramatic style with Keane sitting on the bench unable to contribute. Although he was pleased for his manager and team mates, he felt detached from it all and couldn’t really enjoy the celebrations. United continued to dominate domestically and won the league title the following two seasons.
Keane lashes out – Read more