It was a cool 40 years ago this very day that a legend was born. The term ‘legend’ is often used so loosely, but on this occasion it’s use is wholly justified.
Roy Maurice Keane is arguably the finest midfielder of the Premiership era. A winner, a leader, a warrior, and a controversial character at times, he was a player who was the heartbeat of Manchester United ever since Alex Ferguson snatched his signature from Nottingham Forest; from under the nose of the swooping Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn Rovers in 1993.
Born in Cork on 10th August, 1971, Keane grew up a fan of Celtic and Spurs, but Bryan Robson was heralded as his hero – the guy he took over from as the Untied engine room.
In his early years, he was turned down for Ireland schoolboys for being “too small”, although he signed as a semi pro at Cobh Ramblers as a kid, after all his letters to English clubs requesting a trial were turned down.
It was here that Brian Clough signed Keane for Nottingham Forest, and threw him in to the first team for his debut against Liverpool at the start of the 1990/91 season.
His commanding performances saw United shell out a then British record transfer fee of £3.75m in the summer of 1993, and a glittering and medal laden career was about to ensue.
In his first season, Keane was part of the first United team to win the League and Cup double, and he repeated that feat in 1996.
In 1997 he took over the captaincy of the club from Eric Cantona, and in 1999 led the team to the historic Treble of League, Cup and Champions League. Unfortunately Keano missed that final, and often refuses to acknowledge that he is a European Cup winner.
The fact he got a booking in the semi final against Juventus that ruled him out of the final, but almost single handidly drove the team to victory in that game and ensured the reds of a place at the Nou Camp means that all reds know his contribution to winning the European Cup.
More medals and trophies came Keane and United’s way over the next six years, but on 18th November 2005, Keane left the club by mutual consent under something of a cloud.
No stranger to controversy, Keane had occasionally stepped out of line off the pitch, and it had began to affect things behind the scenes. It’s believed that, according reports in The Guardian that some of Keane’s appearances on MUTV had angered Alex Ferguson. “… after a humiliating 4–1 defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough in early November, he took the opportunity to criticise the performances of John O’Shea, Alan Smith, Kieran Richardson and Darren Fletcher…”..The harshest analysis, however, was reserved for the club’s record signing 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.”
Keane Signed for Celtic after leaving United, and subsequently took Sunderland back in to the Premier League as manager, before a short stint as Ipswich Town boss.
He will forever be remembered as that United legend who wore his heart and a red devil on his sleeve, and if the old adage of the saying “Life begins at 40” is true, Roy’s in for a rollercoaster rest of his life!
Happy birthday, Roy!
Notably Roy Keane……
- Keane won seven Premier League winners medals.
- Four FA Cup Winners medals.
- One Champions League winners medal.
- He famously kneed a Galatasaray midfielder up the arse whilst powering through midfield in 1993/94
- He’s also known for smashing Alf Inge Haarland of Man City in the leg in a Manchester derby at Old Trafford
- He was the PFA Player of the year in 2000
- He stormed out of Mick McCarthy’s Ireland squad during the 2002 World Cup finals
- In 2004 he showed Patrick Vieira who was the boss in the Highbury tunnel.