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'He drove me to become better' - Roy Keane pays glowing tribute to 'immense' Vieira

The Irishman admits himself and his former playing rival will never be “bosom buddies”.

Roy Keane says rival Vieira was
Roy Keane says rival Vieira was "unplayable" at times.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

IRELAND ASSISTANT BOSS Roy Keane has paid tribute to former playing rival and Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.

Speaking as Vieira was awarded the Football Writers’ Association tribute award, Keane said the former French international was as tough an opponent as he ever faced.

“I don’t think we’ll ever be bosom buddies buying each other a drink in the pub but out of everybody I ever faced as a player, he drove me to become better,” Keane told reporters.

“Obviously Arsenal were the team that really challenged Manchester United and, for a short time, went past us. And as their leader Patrick was immense.

“Without doubt I’d put him alongside (Zinedine) Zidane, (Paul) Scholes, (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard as one of the very best I’ve ever played with or against, he was that good. On his day, when he was driving Arsenal on with the sheer force of his personality, he was unplayable.”

Former teammate Martin Keown also paid tribute to Vieira, who is currently managing New York City FC in the MLS, but added that the tough-tackling midfield great was not always as impressive in training as he was on the field.

“You look at Dennis Bergkamp and you look at Thierry Henry and people say they are great players and rightly so,” Keown said.

There are statues of these guys outside the Emirates Stadium but without Patrick winning the ball and giving it to them they would almost be redundant.

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“But sometimes during the week it was as if his non-football playing brother turned up for training instead, we used to call him Mr Floppy, but on a match day he was a different animal.”

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Paul Fennessy

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