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'Loner' Roy Keane hasn't changed - Jason McAteer

“He forgets that his opinion is just another opinion at the end of the day.”

Keane is the current Ireland assistant manager.
Keane is the current Ireland assistant manager.
Image: Nick Potts

EX-LIVERPOOL WINGER Jason McAteer has given some interesting insights on former Ireland teammate Roy Keane in a new book.

In Men in White Suits: Liverpool FC in the 1990s The Players’ Stories, McAteer tells author Simon Hughes that the Ireland assistant boss “hasn’t changed” since his playing days.

“You’ve seen Roy as a pundit, he hasn’t changed.”

“A lot of pundits say something out there just to be controversial when they don’t believe it. I think people like Roy because what he says is very believable.

“I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says and where Roy lets himself down is when he forgets that his opinion is just another opinion at the end of the day. He’s got to be open to the fact that he might be wrong. That’s what Roy has struggled with for a long time.”

McAteer has also risked reopening the infamous Roy Keane-World Cup 2002 debate, suggesting that Keane’s standards for Ireland were too high and that the team performed well in “relative terms” — even if conditions surrounding the team sometimes left much to be desired.

“We used to train next to the airport and Jack [Charlton] or Mick [McCarthy] would be doing their team talk while the ten o’clock from Liverpool would be flying in. They’d have to stop because of the noise. Then they’d start, then the half-ten would be overheard. It was laughable.

“To walk out in 2002 was the worst possible thing [Roy] could have done. There wasn’t one particular reason why he decided to go home. It was a number of events happening shortly one after the other and he’d had enough. I saw them as little problems.

“I was gutted, but not personally, because we all make choices in life. You have to do what you believe in. I was gutted because, one: at the time, Roy was one of the best players in the world. Two: the team needed him, despite all his faults. He was a loner, Roy. We never mixed, really. Socially, he never added anything. But on the pitch he was phenomenal.”

Republic of Ireland v Holland Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

(Keane and McAteer played together at international level)

The former winger also recalled a telling conversation he had with Alex Ferguson’s ex-assistant, Mike Phelan.

“He told me that with Fergie, if he watched a game and a player lost the ball and then found it really difficult to get back into position, Fergie would turn round and go, ‘He’s finished, lost his engine.’ He’d then try to get the player out of the club.

“With Roy, Roy was forever telling him it was a one-off — he’d had a bad night’s sleep and he was tired for that game. Fergie gave Roy more chances than other players. But once the seed was planted, Fergie would never change his mind.”

Men in White Suits: Liverpool FC in the 1990s The Players’ Stories is published by Bantam Press. More info here.

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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