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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 12 July, 2020

'To question someone like Johnny, how outspoken he's been on mental health, I just think it's poor form'

Shane Supple has spoken up on behalf of former Ipswich Town team-mate Jonathan Walters.

Roy Keane and Shane Supple at the Stade de France.
Roy Keane and Shane Supple at the Stade de France.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

EX-IPSWICH TOWN goalkeeper Shane Supple has defended former team-mate Jonathan Walters after the striker became involved in a war-of-words with Roy Keane this past week.

Keane, who managed both players at Ipswich and as assistant manager to Martin O’Neill with Ireland, was critical of Walters while speaking at an Off the Ball roadshow in Dublin last week.

Keane appeared to criticise Walters for an interview he gave on The Late Late Show in May, discussing the passing of his mother, his wife’s miscarriage and his daughter being diagnosed with scoliosis.

The pair have endured a strained relationship during their time involved with club and country. Keane said: “Imagine if Jon won a trophy. He talks a good game. He goes on the TV — on about how he was harshly treated by me.

“Not kicking a ball for Burnley for two or three years. On TV, crying about his family situation. You know, how about lying low for a while, taking it easy? Have a look at his medals? Wouldn’t take long.”

soccer-coca-cola-football-league-championship-leeds-united-v-ipswich-town-elland-road Supple left Ipswich Town in 2009 to return home to Ireland. Source: EMPICS Sport

Supple, who worked briefly under Keane at Ipswich for three months before leaving English football behind to come home to Ireland, said he was heavily disappointed by his comments.

“Listen, Roy is Roy and he says what he wants to say,” Supple says speaking to The42. “I definitely didn’t agree with how close to the bone he went. I thought it was very much below the belt. I know Johnny quite well and would’ve been good friends with him from our time together at Ipswich.

“With Jon’s background, I just thought it was poor to go that low, really. I don’t see the point in it. It baffles me sometimes, but he’s brought in to do a show and maybe he’s giving the people what they wanted.

“A lot of people have a lot of time for him [Keane] and listen to what he has to say and take it on board as gospel. But that shouldn’t be the case, because that was a really low blow.”

shane-supple Former Ipswich Town, Dublin and Bohemians goalkeeper Shane Supple. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Supple has spoken previously about how Keane was a big help when he decided to return home. Disillusioned by football in England, he parted ways with Ipswich in 2009 after five years with the Tractor Boys.

The 32-year-old said Keane helped facilitate his move back to Dublin and thanked him personally when the goalkeeper was called into the Ireland squad during his spell with Bohemians for a friendly against France in May 2018.

“I had fantastic dealings with Roy in terms of me and my particular situation when I left Ipswich at the time,” Supple explains. “He was great on that side of things. I didn’t have a whole lot of time with him, three months probably, when he came in. Things didn’t go too well for him at Ipswich but I didn’t have enough time there to say what kind of manager he was.

“All I can see is the way his career in management has panned out. When I was looking to get home, he was great. That’s what surprises me sometimes the way he does speak and some of the things he brought up last week. It’s just really strange. There’s two sides to the man.”

soccer-coca-cola-football-championship-norwich-city-v-ipswich-town-carrow-road Wes Hoolahan and Jonathan Walters in December 2008. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Supple said Keane’s decision to openly criticise Walters, having been so honest about his personal struggles in his family life, left a bitter taste. He says the Keane he dealt with and the one speaking last week were like different people entirely.

“We’ve all seen Roy since he’s stepped in and out of management and in the media that some of his comments are going to be controversial. It didn’t surprise me, I suppose, but I just thought it was really poor to do that,” he says.

“To question someone like Johnny and what he’s done in the game, and how outspoken he has been on the issue of people’s mental health — he’s helped an awful lot of people since he’s done that. I just think it’s poor form. It’s crazy that it gets so much attention. I know this stuff sells and that, but I just don’t think it should. It is what it is.”

Supple, while still holding his old manager to account, points out that Keane may have been playing up to the crowd in a particular setting. But he stresses that his own dealings with the Cork man and some of his comments in the media seem like night and day.

“It doesn’t seem like the same person. If there’s two different personalities, I’m not sure. But it’s a strange one. Maybe he was just adapting to the situation he was in and he felt he wanted to do or needed to do. He holds a lot of weight with a lot of people that look up to him and admire him, but I don’t know how you can look up and admire stuff like what he said last week.”

Supple, who won an All-Ireland medal with the Dublin senior footballers in 2013 and enjoyed two-and-a-half impressive seasons in the League of Ireland with Bohemians, retired at the end of last year.

Being involved in a senior Ireland camp was a special moment to remember, he says, and it also gave him the chance to thank Keane for all his help during their brief time together at Ipswich ten years ago.

“At the Stade de France on the pitch before the France friendly I got to speak to him briefly,” the former goalkeeper says.

“When I went in I was playing with Bohemians at the time and was in and out of the camp a little bit, so when I got over to Paris I just saw him and he came straight over to me. Roy started asking about what I was doing now. So I got the chance to say thanks and I meant it, because he genuinely did help me big time in that situation.”

Shane Supple was at the Sport Ireland Campus today to help launch a new season of action on the eir sport pack. eir sport viewers can watch every game in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League plus UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers on Virgin Media Sport, which is now part of the eir sport pack, as well as live FA Cup games, SSE Airtricity League games & the Republic of Ireland’s U21 Home Qualifiers.

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Aaron Gallagher

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