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Alan McLoughlin: Roy Keane rang me to apologise over book comments

The United legend blamed ghostwriter Eamon Dunphy for the issue, according to his former Ireland teammate

McLoughlin represented Ireland 42 times at senior level.
McLoughlin represented Ireland 42 times at senior level.

Updated at 14.38

ALAN MCLOUGHLIN HAS revealed that Roy Keane was moved to apologise to him over comments made in the ex-Man United star’s first autobiography.

In McLoughlin’s upcoming book, A Different Shade of Green, he describes his dismay at reading the controversial passage in question.

“When Roy Keane’s autobiography was published in 2002, I was shocked to read the following words describing the intensity of the pre-match atmosphere when we faced Northern Ireland in November 1993:

‘Knowing little of the history, lads like Andy Townsend, John Aldridge, Tony Cascarino and Alan McLoughlin were puzzled.’”

“Now, Townsend and Aldridge may have qualified through the ‘granny rule’ and Cass, as he later revealed, had no immediate Irish heritage and wasn’t actually entitled to an Irish cap at all. But me? Both my parents were Irish and had a good grasp of the nation’s history; I knew exactly what that rivalry was all about. Just as much, if not more, than Roy Keane.”

Moreover, Keane and McLoughlin had already forged a friendship while playing for Ireland.

“Our friendship, which had first developed in Big Jack’s Ireland squads, had deepened when I was at Wigan between 1999 and 2001. [My wife] Deby had popped over to Roy’s with me a couple of times and I had dined with Roy and his wife Theresa quite a bit. I often enjoyed walks with one of the most famous dogs in football: his beloved Triggs.

“But that line really angered me. It was as if Roy was taking something away from my achievement in scoring that night. As if the pictures of us embracing at the final whistle in Belfast in 1993, looking forward to America, had all been staged for the cameras.”

McLoughlin added that Keane ultimately rang him up to apologise over the remarks, blaming ghostwriter Eamon Dunphy for their appearance in his controversial 2002 book.

“I thought about calling him up and asking ‘Roy, what’s all this crap in the book?’ In the end, I didn’t have to. Roy called me one afternoon while on his way back from Sunderland. I was sitting at my desk in the printing company in Swindon when the call came, so it was a nice surprise. He explained that his ghostwriter, Eamon Dunphy, had put a lot of words, those included, into the book.

“That was Roy’s explanation and I believe it. I have to. Roy was a fellow professional footballer, a colleague, a friend. But I was still seething about the passage. I had represented my country 42 times; left my first child’s birth to get on a plane to play football for Ireland; taken us to the World Cup; generated millions for the FAI; put up with crap hotels; numbed my arse on an Albanian bench; suffered death threats from
Combat 18: you name it. That is why those words really niggled. It was as if, having wrecked my body playing for my country, I was still seeking justification.”

McLoughlin, who made 42 appearances for Ireland, explained that he ultimately neglected to confront Dunphy over the issue, despite having the opportunity to do so during a TV appearance in 2012.

“With football fever gripping Ireland in the run up to the 2012 [European] Championships, I had the chance to confront Eamon Dunphy about his ignorant remarks about English-born Irish players lacking a sense of history and identity. I was booked to appear on the Craig Doyle show on RTÉ but wasn’t told who the other guests would be. As I entered the green room, to my surprise, I saw Dunphy. As we exchanged greetings, I thought nothing of it. But then, after I’d settled on an armchair on the opposite side of the room to him, my mind wandered back to those comments in Roy’s book.

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“I looked back to Dunphy and my eyes narrowed. Bloody hell, I thought, Eamon Dunphy is some man to be playing the patriot game. When Dunphy had written those words, he’d reduced Irishness to a simple formula and, in doing so, replicated exactly the sort of post-independence snobbery he is fond of railing against: an insular and small-minded attitude.

“But neither was it the right occasion to settle scores. Although tempted, I wasn’t going to stomp over to Dunphy and demand a word. After all, we were there to talk about Ireland’s chances in Euro 2012, not Windsor Park, 1993. The professional thing was to keep tight-lipped, which I did at the time, but I do hope that Eamon Dunphy gets to read these words. It seems like there’s still a long way to go with the whole British-Irish thing and I’ve witnessed the worst of that spirit of loathing. It isn’t healthy and it isn’t nice.”

The above quotes are from A Different Shade of Green: The Alan McLoughlin Story by Bryce Evans and Alan McLoughlin. For more info, click here.

The book launch will be taking place on 12 November at 6pm in Dubray Books on Grafton Street with special guest Niall Quinn.

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Paul Fennessy

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