With a demeanour as serious as a Victorian Workhouse owner, the face and personality of a Dublin brawler, a fuse so short it would be inadequate in a hand-grenade and now a beard like a dystopian Father Christmas, the Irishman’s career has been dominated by drama, infamous bust-ups and red cards as much as it has silverware.
So it’s a good job the now-Aston Villa assistant has released a new autobiography, his second to date, aptly titled ‘The Second Half’. Excerpts are already doing the rounds on social media, so we at Football FanCast have been kind enough to compose this list of the TEN best quotes from Keane’s book, purely for your enjoyment.
What better way to start a top ten than a discussion of Gary Neville’s genitals? The Manchester United icon may have been a top right-back and an even better pundit, but in comparison to his in-depth analyses on Sky Sports, Neville’s nether regions, according to Roy Keane, aren’t quite awesome.
Roy Keane doesn’t hold back in his new book.. pic.twitter.com/EZbBHjqzZA
— Bearded FC (@BeardedFC) October 8, 2014
The Neville camp at yet to respond, or provide proof otherwise.
Equally aggressive and hot-headed, perhaps even deserving the moniker of a ‘poor man’s Roy Keane’, it’s hardly labouring to comprehend why the Irishman wanted to add Match of the Day fashionista Robbie Savage to his Sunderland squad back in 2008.
Keane was given permission to talk to the tough-tackling midfielder by Blackburn boss Mark Hughes, and wasted no time in giving him a ring.
“Robbie’s legs were going a bit but I thought he might come up to us with his long hair, and give us a lift – the way Yorkie [Dwight Yorke] had, a big personality in the dressing room, ” Keane reveals in ‘Second Half’.
“Sparky gave me permission to give him a call. So I got Robbie’s mobile number and rang him. It went to his voicemail, “Hi it’s Robbie – whazzup!” like the Budweiser ad.”
Just in case you’re not clued up on your early 2000s nostalgia:
“I never called him back. I thought: “I can’t be f***ing signing that,” Keane concluded.
It’s hard to imagine a more sinister scene than Roy Keane, looking incredibly underwhelmed in a Sunderland dressing room, listening to Abba.
Yet, to the midfielder-come-writer’s horror, that precise scenario took place whilst he was manager at the Stadium of Light.
“It might seem strange but you find out about characters when you look to see who’s in charge of the music. A young lad might want to put on the latest sound; an older player might say: ‘I’m the senior player’ and put himself in charge,” the former Manchester United captain reveals in his book.
“But I noticed none of the players [at Sunderland] were in charge of the music and this was a concern for me. A member of staff was in charge. I was looking at him thinking: ‘I hope someone nails him here.’ The last song before the players went on to the pitch was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba.
“What really worried me was that none of the players – not one – said: ‘Get that s**t off.’ They were going out to play a match, men versus men, testosterone levels were high. You’ve got to hit people at pace. F***ing ‘Dancing Queen.’ It worried me. I didn’t have as many leaders as I thought.”
If apathy towards Abba made Sunderland seem like purgatory to Roy Keane, then his short stay at Celtic constituted borderline hell.
“My first game [for Celtic] was Clyde, away, in the third round of the Scottish Cup. We were beaten 2-1. It was a nightmare. I wasn’t happy with my own game. I did OK, but OK wasn’t good enough. After the game – the disappointment. As I was taking my jersey off, I noticed the Nike tag was still on it. When I got on the bus John Hartson, a really good guy, was already sitting there and he was eating a packet of crisps – with a fizzy drink. I said to myself: ‘Welcome to Hell’.
It’s not the only act of penance Keane found himself suffering during his time at Parkhead, perhaps for his sins at Manchester United.
“When I moved to Celtic I used to get an early flight up to Edinburgh or Glasgow, and I’d hire a car and drive from there to the training ground,” Keane writes. “One morning a taxi driver picked me up, to bring me from my house to Manchester Airport.
“I got into the taxi at about six. My flight was at seven. In the middle of winter. And the taxi driver asked me: ‘Do you miss being at United?’ It was six in the f***ing morning, it was freezing — black outside. I looked at him and I went: ‘What do you think?’ We laughed.”
The long-running feud between Roy Keane and former Ireland defender Clive Clarke is well known.
Allegedly, it started when the bearded shin-breaker was manager at Sunderland, and Clarke, upon the birth of his child that coincided with a 2-1 defeat to Stoke City, was lauded with presents and gifts by Potters players and coaches after the game, having previously made over 200 appearances for the Britannia outfit and earned the status of a club favourite.
Being the competitive man he is, Keane took offence, and after laying into Clarke during a training session, sent him out on loan to Leicester City. But during a League Cup tie against Nottingham Forest in 2007, Clarke suffered an unexpected cardiac arrest at half-time.
Keane already caused controversy back in 2009 when he quipped; “The staff came in and said: Clive Clarke has had a heart attack at Leicester’. I said ‘is he OK? I’m shocked they found one you could never tell by the way he plays.”
But in ‘The Second Half’, the Irishman takes ill-taste to a whole new level, by admitting he was ‘glad’ one of his players suffered a heart-attack the same night Sunderland lost 3-0 at home to Luton.
“I had the evil thought: ‘I’m glad he had it tonight’; because it would deflect from our woeful performance.”
According to Roy Keane, it took just one performance – a performance that allegedly left John O’Shea seeking medical attention at half time – to convince him Cristiano Ronaldo would become one of the greatest footballers in the history of the game.
“We were playing Sporting Lisbon to celebrate the opening of their stadium. I saw how good Ronaldo was that day. He was up against John O’Shea,” Keane said.
“Sheasy ended up seeing the doctor at half time because he was actually having dizzy spells. The club concluded negotiations after the game.”
Indeed, after the friendly with the Portuguese side, Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time in wrapping up a £12.3million deal for the now-Real Madrid star. Here’s the highlights from CR7’s performance against the club where he’d later make his name:
“We always joked with Sheasy he had actually sealed the deal by playing like a f***ing clown. In fairness to him, he was jet-lagged [from America] like the rest of us.”
In a dressing room as talented and determined as Manchester United’s, there were always going to be clashes of personality. And one that appears to have often dominated behind the scenes at Old Trafford was between Roy Keane and Peter Schmeichel, with the two once entering into a mano-e-mano drunken brawl, refereed by Nicky Butt.
Keane reveals in ‘The Second Half’; “I had a bust-up with Peter when we were on a pre-season tour of Asia, in 1998, just after I came back from my cruciate injury. I think we were in Hong Kong. There was drink involved.
“He said: ‘I’ve had enough of you. It’s time we sorted this out.’ So I said: ‘OK’ and we had a fight. It felt like 10 minutes. There was a lot of noise – Peter’s a big lad.
“I woke up the next morning. I kind of vaguely remembered the fight. My hand was really sore and one of my fingers was bent backwards. In the meantime, Nicky Butt had been filling me in on what had happened the night before. Butty had refereed the fight. Anyway, Peter had grabbed me, I’d head-butted him — we’d been fighting for ages.
“At the press conference, Peter took his sunglasses off. He had a black eye. The questions came at him: ‘Peter, what happened to your eye?'”
Perhaps the most controversial point of Roy Keane’s career – although certainly rivalled by many other moments of madness – in 2001, the Irish enforcer clashed with an old enemy during a Manchester Derby, seeing straight red for this horror tackle on Alfe Inge Haaland that would later end his playing days:
It was apparent retribution for Haaland’s reaction to Keane tearing a cruciate ligament back in 1997, an injury which saw the former United midfielder sidelined for an entire year.
Keane was fined £150k and banned for five matches after revealing in his first autobiography that it was an ‘act of vengeance’, something he later claimed was an inaccurate interpretation of his ghost writer.
And the 43 year-old has used his follow-up book to try and set the record straight.
“Was I going around for years thinking: ’I’m going to get him, I’m going to get him.’? No,” claims Keane.
“Was he at the back of my mind? Of course he was. Like Rob Lee was, like David Batty was, like Alan Shearer was, like Patrick Vieira was. All these players were in the back of my mind: ’If I get a chance I’m going to f***ing hit you, of course I am.’
“Haaland finished the game and played four days later, for Norway. A couple of years later he tried to claim that he’d had to retire because of the tackle. He was going to sue me. It was a bad tackle but he was still able to play four days later.”
Haaland’s already responded on Twitter, comparing Keane to Saddam Hussein. Admittedly, there is a resemblence…
Roy Keane’s Manchester United career came to an abrupt end in 2005 following an interview with MUTV, an interview allegedly so volatile that it was never allowed to air and news outlets were willing to pay £5000 and above to get their hands on it. It included personal criticisms of many players, including:
On Rio Ferdinand: “Just because you are paid £120,000 a week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham you think you are a superstar.”
On Edwin van der Sar, who let in the first goal against Boro from 30 yards: “He should have saved that.”
On John O’Shea: “He’s just strolling around but he should be bursting a gut to get back.”
On Darren Fletcher: “I can’t understand why people in Scotland rave about Darren Fletcher.”
On Kieran Richardson: “He is a lazy defender who deserved to get punished.”
On Alan Smith: “He is wandering around as if he is lost. He doesn’t know what he is doing.”
Sir Alex Ferguson quickly tore up Keane’s contract, citing that the midfielder thought he was in charge of the club and exceeded his mandate as club captain – by quite some distance indeed.
Keane’s responded in his new book, claiming; ‘It was getting a bit silly so I got the players together in the dressing room and told them it was f***ing nonsense. They were all going: ‘Yeah, Yeah’. Not one of them had an issue. Not one.
“Even now people still say: “The video had to be destroyed”. Like it was a nuclear weapon or something. Did someone drive out to the countryside and bury it in the f***ing ground? Or did a bomb disposal unit come and explode it? It had to be destroyed.
“The idea that I was in the studio ranting and raving, no… I was told the interview was being pulled. They couldn’t believe what I had said. I didn’t think it was too bad. I thought everyone was overreacting.”
After all these interesting incidents and excerpts, you’re probably wondering why Roy Keane is the way he is. Why so serious? Why so aggressive? Why so explosive and uncontrollable? Why can’t you just relax with a Guinness, like most kind Irish folk?
Well, ‘The Second Half’ gives a bit more insight into the former United captain’s personality in comparison to his last book, particularly regarding that infamous bust-up with Mick McCarthy at the 2002 World Cup which ended his international career, allegedly telling the then-Republic of Ireland manager; “The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country and you’re not even Irish, you English c**t! You can stick it up your b*****s.”
“When I’m backed into a corner, when I get into situations, professional or personal, I know deep down, that when I lose my rag – and I might be in the right – it doesn’t matter- I know I’m going to be the loser. I will lose out,” Keane reveals.
Saipan and the World Cup – ultimately I lost. Or when I left United, when I could have stayed a bit longer if it had been handled differently. I was the one who lost. I know that.
“That’s the madness of me. When I’m going off on one, even when I might be right, there’s a voice inside my head going ‘you’ll pay for this’. That’s the self-destruct button.
“I don’t know if it’s low self-esteem. Things might be going really well, and I don’t trust it: ‘it’s not going to last’ or ‘why am I getting this? Why are things going well?’I’ll f**k things up a little bit, then feel better, myself. That self-destruct button is definitely there. And I suffer for it.
“With my drinking, I used to go missing for a few days. I think it was my way of switching off, never mind the consequences. It was my time.
“It was self-destructive, I can see that, but I’m still drawn to it. Not the drink – but the bit of madness, the irresponsibility. I’ve dipped into the madness, and I don’t like it that much. My mid-life crisis has been going on for years.”