Full name: Roy Maurice Keane
Date of birth: 10/08/1971
Surely one of the most controversial footballers ever to play in the English game, Roy Keane has had a distinguished career, littered with trophies and accolades. Keane had a long and highly successful career at the world famous Manchester United, holding the captain’s armband for nearly ten years, before a brief stint at Glasgow’s Celtic. He recently entered the world of football management, and has had a so-far successful term at Sunderland since 2006.
Roy Maurice Keane was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1971. His first sport was boxing, and he excelled in the fights he took part in, perhaps no surprise to those who’ve seen his dominant and aggressive nature when playing football. Keane played for local side Rockmount AFC at the time, and his promise as a footballer was highlighted when he turned out for trials with the Irish schoolboy squad. However, Keane was turned down for being too small. He took jobs involving manual labour in an attempt to build himself up. His efforts paid off and in 1989 he was signed to semi-professional side Cobh Ramblers. After impressing both players and fans, Keane was picked up by a Nottingham Forest scout, and taken to the club by the legendary Brian Clough. Keane quickly became a regular starter in the team, and was involved in two consecutive cup finals: the FA cup in 1991, and the league cup in 1992. Unfortunately, Forest lost both.
United He Stood
In July 1993, Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson swooped, hijacking Keane’s proposed move to Blackburn Rovers at the last minute. Ferguson phoned the Irishman and persuaded him to be a part of a team that had just won the Premiership in style. Keane agreed, and United paid a new English transfer record of £3.75 million for the promising young midfielder. The season that followed couldn’t have gone any better for ‘Keano’, as he was nicknamed by United fans. After a blistering Premiership campaign, during which Keane helped himself to three goals, United won the title in 1994. Two weeks later the club won the FA Cup final, beating Chelsea 4-0 to secure a first ever double for the team.
The next season was less successful, and early evidence of Keane’s aggressive streak was seen against Crystal Palace, when he stamped on Gareth Southgate and received the first of his eventual 11 red cards accumulated whilst at United.
In 1996, Keane again helped Manchester United to another double, and at the end of the next season, in which United successfully defended their Premiership title, he took over as the favoured team captain when the much loved Eric Cantona left the club. Keane spent most of his first season as captain in the stands after tearing the cruciate ligament in his knee. However, he worked hard to regain fitness for the 1998-1999 season, and led United throughout their most successful season ever. Keane propelled the team to a Premiership, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League treble, the first club in English football history to accomplish such a feat. However, in a cruel blow, Keane was forced to watch the incredibly tense European Cup final from the stands, after picking up a yellow card in the semi-final.
Keane was the inspiration and the driving force behind United’s success, and captained the club to four Premiership titles in five years, from 1999 through to 2001 and again in 2003. In 2000 Roy was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year. His tenacity and hard work meant he was arguably the most respected player in the Premiership.
The Infamous Prawn Sandwiches
In December 2000, Keane went on his most famous rant, criticising fans and team-mates for lacking a winning desire. After a Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev, Keane moaned about a lack of support from the crown.
“Away from home our fans are fantastic, I’d call them the hardcore fans. But at home they have a few drinks and probably the prawn sandwiches, and they don’t realise what’s going on out on the pitch.”
To this day corporate spectators at football matches are often labelled the ‘Prawn Sandwich Brigade’, a term coined by the media in reference to Keane’s comments. It describes those who get corporate tickets and, in his opinion, show little interest in the match itself.
The next few years brought success for Keane and United, but not without problems. Keane was often critical of team mates, accusing them of losing the motivational attitude that had won them the Champions League in 1999. In August 2003 he was at the centre of a media frenzy, after claiming in his autobiography that he deliberately injured Alf-Inge Haaland, a Manchester City player with whom Keane had a long running feud dating back to 1997. It was during the media storm that Keane elbowed Sunderland player Jason McAteer, prompting the media to brand him a ‘psycho’, not for the first time in his career. He was red-carded and suspended for eight matches in total.
Keane returned from suspension with a rejuvenated hip, the result of an operation on a long term injury which at first looked career-ending. Despite fears he wouldn’t have the same mobility and ferocity after the surgery, Keane was soon back to his best and led the squad to an eighth Premiership title the same season.
Keane To Move On
On 18 November 2005, Manchester United announced Keane’s unexpected departure. The move came after months of increasing tension between Keane and the United management and playing staff, after he had numerous arguments with Alex Ferguson and criticised other players’ performances. Keane and United parted ways after 12 years of success, leaving fans with fond memories of a club legend who never stopped fighting to take United to the top again and again.
Nearly a month later, Keane signed for Celtic, a club he had longed to play at for most of his career. He proved he was still a force to be reckoned with, and put in several match winning performances for the team. However, he was still having huge problems with injury, and just six months later was forced to retire from professional football for medical reasons.
Keane vs Vieira
Roy had a long running feud with his midfield rival at Arsenal, Patrick Vieira. The two were famous for launching heated verbal attacks in games between United and Arsenal, and in one famous tunnel argument, Keane swore at Vieira live on television. The two had a competitive relationship and had a healthy but tumultuous rivalry.
Keane vs Inge Haaland
Perhaps the most bitter of Keane’s words were reserved for Alf Inge Haaland, a Manchester City player. The feud stretched back to 1997, when Keane tore his knee ligament whilst attempting to tackle the player. Haaland stood over Keane and accused him of faking injury to get away with the foul he’d tried to commit. Keane was livid, and four years later was sent off for a brutal tackle on Haaland which he has since admitted was intended to hurt the player. He was fined more than £150,000 and banned for eight matches overall.
Roy Keane had a dislike of the Irish national team’s organisation and set-up throughout his career, which led to numerous disagreements with various managers. His first row was with manager Jack Charlton during a tournament in the US, when they disagreed on playing style. However, Keane played every game in the USA World Cup of 1994, despite disagreements with Charlton.
Keane’s biggest bust-up was with the then Irish manager Mick McCarthy, during the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. The Irish team was based on the small Pacific island of Saipan for the duration of their campaign, much to the annoyance of Roy. He wasn’t happy with the location, and criticised its inadequate training facilities. Tempers rose, and things came to a head after Keane gave a newspaper interview in which he severely insulted and berated McCarthy. The Irish manager dismissed him from the squad and sent him home, and the incident caused massive controversy in both Ireland and the UK.
Keane was recalled when McCarthy resigned, but failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup was enough for the player, and he retired from international football soon after.
Roy Keane went into management the season after his retirement from football. He linked up with former Republic of Ireland teammate Niall Quinn, chairman of Championship outfit Sunderland. Keane made some stellar signings, bringing, among others, former Celtic team-mates Ross Wallace and Stanislav Varga, as well as former Manchester United teammate Dwight Yorke, to the north-east club. His no-nonsense playing style seemed to apply to management as well, and when three players were late for the team coach to an away match, he left them behind. A dream season saw Keane take the Mackems to the top of the table and secure Premiership promotion. Keane continues to manage Sunderland in the Premiership.
Keane is married to Theresa Doyle, whom he met whilst playing at Nottingham Forest. They married in 1997 and have five children together. They live in Durham in the north-east of England.
- FWA Footballer of the Year: 2000
- PFA Players’ Player of the Year: 2000
|1989-1990||Cobh Ramblers||12 (1)|
|1990-1993||Nottingham Forest||114 (22)|
|1993-2005||Manchester United||323 (33)|
|1991-2005||Republic of Ireland||66 (9)|