Idols: Roy Keane “I’ll see you out there”

Manchester United have not had a midfielder like Roy Keane at the club for more than twelve years now, something that has pained me over the years. I have thought about what could have happened if the Irishman remained at the club, what United could have added to their achievements, but more importantly, it was probably the best time for it to happen in order for United to start something new again, the squad to be rebuilt for another generation. Keane signed for Manchester United from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million, a British Record Transfer at the time. Kenny Dalglish’s Blackburn Rovers were signing the player for £4 million at the time, Sir Alex Ferguson swooped and stole the player from under Dalglish’s nose. A massive coup for Ferguson.

Keane was young and talented, having all the right things to succeed at United, the aggression being the main thing he was known for. Keane was my idol, a player who gave as good as he got, if not more, standing his ground and not letting anyone get one over him. Alf-Inge Håland knows that only too well. Keane played for United for thirteen seasons, a great period of time with the player filling the void which would later be left by Bryan Robson, wearing the captain’s armband and being the voice, the aggression, the thunder and the lightening of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team. Keane did not take much stick but gave a lot.

During the late 1990’s and early 2000’s with Arsenal on the rise and challenging United for Premier League glory, Keane and Patrick Vieira, amongst others clashed a lot of the time. There was one match, in particular, played in the early 2000’s with Keane and Vieira clashing in the tunnel, which was seen live on Sky Sports and around the world in which you heard Keane angrily say “I’ll see you out there”. Those were the days. Keane was the captain, leader and legend and as I was growing up, my idol. I always wanted to be a midfielder like Keane, but with two left feet, it was never going to happen for me. Keane, at that time, was the be all and end all of Manchester United for me, and perhaps he will always have a place in my heart, a time where things were great.

The end of the player’s career at United in 2005 was a bad one, criticism of his own teammates on MUTV seemed to do enough for Ferguson to decide that he was done at the club, signing for Celtic as soon as the transfer window was open, still getting his testimonial at the club, something he did deserve for the amount of blood, sweat and other player’s tears he put into his game. Keane, at least as a player will always be a legend for me. A player, who at his prime, will always be the type of player any team would want. Blackburn missed out on a player who would have strengthened their side and may have seen them win more than one Premier League title, maybe not even be resigned to the Football League today! Who knows.

To see Roy Keane in his Manchester United playing days will always get my attention. The fact he was a winner, demanded his side win, lifting seven Premier League titles, four FA Community Shields, four FA Cup trophies, one UEFA Champions League trophy, although he did not play in that match due to suspension, along with Paul Scholes and one Intercontinental Cup – playing 480 times for United, scoring 51 goals – 1992 to 2005 will always be a great era for Manchester United, the foundations were built to knock Liverpool off their perch, which Sir Alex Ferguson completed before he retired, and Keane was part of that too.

Management may not have been right for him, not at the time anyway but coaching and punditry seem to work, despite his criticism of United, which was partly right, saw him slated by United fans. Keane will always be a legend to me for what he did on that pitch, his thoughts will not ruin that for me.

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