Dublin: 16°C Tuesday 28 June 2022

'Fergie went mad' -- Keane on United boss's reaction to his Ireland return

The Corkman admits he was emotional about going back to play in the in the green jersey.

Keane and Kerr in 2004.
Keane and Kerr in 2004.
Image: INPHO

ROY KEANE ADMITS his return to the international fold in 2004 did not please club boss Alex Ferguson.

The Corkman — writing in his new book The Second Half, which is officially released today — was reintroduced to the squad by Brian Kerr.

“If I looked at it coldly I wouldn’t have gone back,” writes the Corkman. ”There was my age; I was 33. Physically — and mentally — it would be another burden. I’d be playing in the middle of the park; the demands would be huge. People would expect miracles.

“And I knew there would be consequences at United. The manager wouldn’t talk to me. But he — they — couldn’t stop me.

“There were no problems when I went back into the squad. I didn’t bat an eyelid. I’d had no disagreement with any of the players.”

Ferguson however was about to hit the roof.

“I was glad to be back but the consequences of my decision were about to bite me in the arse,” Keane continues. “I made myself available to play against Switzerland, in the second qualifier in September ’04, although I’d fractured my ribs. I’d done that a few weeks before in a Champions League qualifier against Dinamo Bucharest.

“I’d played in our next Premiership game against Norwich but my ribs were at me. I’d been ruled out for the four or five weeks but, after two or three, I felt better. The club doctor said it all looked fine. But I hadn’t played for United.

Roy Keane and Hakan Yakin 8/9/2004 Source: INPHO

“So I rang Alex Ferguson and I told him I thought I’d be all right to play against Switzerland. He went fuckin’ mad. He said: ‘You’re not fit enough to play for us.”

Exclusive NZ - IRE
Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's match analysis and Garry Doyle's updates from New Zealand exclusive to members

Become a Member

The return to the international game a couple of years after Saipan was emotional for him, Keane admits:

“I’d been doing some promotional work for the Irish Guide Dogs and I mentioned in an interview there was unfinished business. I was feeling fitter, and stronger, by now. I think the suggestion to meet came from my solicitor, Michael Kennedy.

“I knew I’d be under massive pressure from United not to do it. I was at an age where the manager would have though my priority was Manchester United, particularly with my history of injury problems.

“The decision was straight-forward — but emotional. I was thinking about my family, I’m proud of being Irish and being from Cork. I think that feeling has got stronger as I’ve matured. I think when you go and live in a different country – even though England is only across the roar —  you can lose a sense of where you’re from.”

Ex-Ipswich star Pablo Counago hits back at ‘coward’ Roy Keane

‘When I read it I burst out laughing’ – Savage responds to Keane’s ‘voicemail’ comments

About the author:

Read next: