I’ll never forget when I watched the 1999 parade through the streets of Manchester following the historic treble win, me and a mate climbed a road sign on Chester Road so we were level with the top deck of the open top bus.
As the bus went past nearly all the players noticed us, Teddy Sheringham smiled the biggest grin I’ve ever seen, I swear I thought his dimples were going to sink through the back of his head. David May gave us a look of complete disdain- not that we were bothered, he was hardly a hero of ours. My enduring image though, is that of the skipper Roy Keane. Keano was sat at the back of the bus looking like he’d just received news that he’d been transferred to Liverpool. He looked completely dejected and as ny mate and I sang “Keano!!” He barely mustered a wave before dropping his head again.
Keano was naturally devastated that he hadn’t got to play in what should have been the biggest game of his career, a game he more than anyone was responsible for getting United into. Keane’s performance in Turin against Juventus still ranks for me as the greatest game I’ve ever seen any United player have. Period. He grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck slammed Zidane in his back pocket and went about launcing the Reds into the final, even after a booking meant he wouldn’t be playing in it. Oh and in his post-match interview, still obviously on a high, Keane was all smiles praising his team mates and beaming how proud he was the club was in its first final CL since 1968.
Keane didn’t get to lift the trophy when United beat Barca, that honour went to Peter Schmeichel who was bound for Portugal only weeks later. Keane and Paul Scholes didn’t collect medals with the rest of their team mates, they were eventually allowed on the pitch in their suits to lift the trophy together as fans applauded them for getting us to the final.
Keane never fully recovered from his heart-break of 1999, as Gary Neville mentions in his book Red- something changed in Keane after 1999, he became angrier, less accepting of mistakes, and more critical of those who he felt weren’t “pulling their socks up.”
Keane himself admits in his autobiography that he felt too many players got complacent after ’99 as a “we’ll never top that season” attitude sunk in with some of them, while he desperately wanted to lift a trophy his talents and efforts more than deserved.
Fast forward 13 years and we see a totally different picture from that lovable chap John Terry, after needlessly kneeing Alexis Sanchez in the back of the leg and receiving a deserved red card at the Nou Camp, the Chelsea skipper will be allowed the reward Keano wasn’t. UEFA have announced that should Chelsea win, Terry can lift the trophy.
I couldn’t care less who lifts the trophy should Chelsea win, but I do feel sorry for Keano who didn’t receive the same treatment John Terry has.