– Paul Dollery reports from Copenhagen
HIS FATHER RARELY saw eye-to-eye with Roy Keane during their time as Manchester United team-mates, but Kasper Schmeichel is full of respect for the Ireland assistant manager.
Schmeichel is set to win his 27th cap for Denmark in tomorrow night’s 2018 World Cup play-off first leg against the Boys in Green in Copenhagen.
Although he was born in the Danish capital, the 31-year-old goalkeeper spent much of his childhood in England. His father, Peter, was widely regarded as the world’s best goalkeeper in an eight-year spell at Old Trafford in the 90s.
Peter Schmeichel’s relationship with Roy Keane during that period was often fractious, yet while playing in the same United team, the pair won five Premier Leagues, three FA Cups and a Champions League.
Speaking at today’s pre-match press conference at the Parken Stadium, Kasper Schmeichel — who was 12 years old when his father left Manchester United in 1999 for Sporting Lisbon — said he expects to see Roy Keane’s characteristics in the current Ireland team tomorrow night.
“My memories of Roy Keane are mostly of him holding trophies and being an inspirational leader and captain for Manchester United,” said the Leicester City goalkeeper.
“Roy is a typical Irishman. They have a unique character. I’ve played with a lot of Irish players and I’ve very much enjoyed them. Their attitude to life, they’re very serious in their work business but they also like to have fun.
“I’m sure that we’ll see a little bit of the Roy Keane on-pitch persona in the team tomorrow.”
Having made his senior international debut for Denmark in 2013, Kasper Schmeichel has yet to play in a major tournament. The Danes’ last summer outing was at Euro 2012, when — like Ireland — they failed to emerge from their group in Poland and Ukraine.
His father was a member of the Denmark side that won the European Championship in 1992. He also reached the quarter-finals of the 1998 World Cup. Kasper is keen to have a taste of something similar.
He said: “I’ve never played in a major tournament so it’s definitely something I want to experience. It’s a major chance for every single player in the squad.
“We’ve missed out on qualification the last two times. It hasn’t been enjoyable sitting at home in the summer, watching it on TV. Hopefully that’s something we’re not going to experience again.”
Denmark will be favoured to advance to next summer’s World Cup in Russia at Ireland’s expense, but after missing out on a place at Euro 2016 following a play-off defeat to Sweden, Kasper Schmeichel isn’t paying much attention to the bookmakers’ forecasts.
“I think we’re confident in our own abilities,” said the former Manchester City and Leeds United goalkeeper, who was a Premier League winner with Leicester in 2016.
“In the last play-off game we had against Sweden we were probably favourites as well but we saw how that ended. I think it’s very difficult to call who’s going to be favourites in this game. Two very different types of teams but, like I said, we’re very confident in our own ability.”Source: The42.ie/YouTube