March 06, 2019 5 min read

Roy Maurice Keane was born on August the tenth, 1971, in Cork in Ireland, where he  divided his time between football and boxing, at Rockmount, before joining semi-professional club Cobh Ramblers in 1989 and moving, at the end of season 1989-90, to Nottingham Forest, where manager Brian Clough and Cobh agreed a fee of £47,000.

Keane’s made his professional league debut against Liverpool at the start of the 1990–91 season, in which he established himself in the Nottingham Forest First XI. Keane’s losing experience in Forest’s FA Cup run to the 1991 Final, in which the club were defeated by Tottenham Hotspur, was repeated a year later, when Keane returned to Wembley with Nottingham Forest for the Football League Cup final, which resulted in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester United.

In the summer of 1993, after a hundred and fourteen appearances for Forest and an established Republic of Ireland international since 1991, with Forest relegated, Keane looking for another club, and his move to Blackburn Rovers having fallen through, Manchester United put in a £3.75m bid, a British record, and Keane was installed before the start of the 1993-94 season, beginning what would result in nineteen trophies in thirteen years.

The awe and admiration which he and his fellow-players inspired in the opposition was specifically sought by the Manchester United’s manager, Alex Ferguson, and was strongly connected with the club’s period of dominance, as well as Keane’s appointment and retention as club captain between 1997 and 2005.

Keane played at international level for most of his career, winning sixty eight international caps for the Republic of Ireland over fourteen years, many as captain.

Keane entered a first-team squad at Manchester United with Bryan Robson and Paul Ince ahead of him and with United having recently won their first title since 1967. Robson’s age and increasing injuries were in Keane’s favour for most of his first season at Old Trafford - 1992-93 - and he took full advantage in scoring twice on his home debut and the winner in the Manchester derby at Maine Road. 

By the end of the season Keane was a Premier League title winner, Manchester United had retained theirs and he and the club went on to do the League and Cup Double against Chelsea in the FA Cup Final.

In the summer of 1995 the departure from the club of Paul Ince and Mark Hughes opened the way for Keane and the United academy players and another Premier League title was secured, having been twelve points behind Newcastle United at the half-way point, along with another FA Cup win - a record ninth - over Liverpool.

A fifth Premier League, along with the Champions League and FA Cup, the so-called Treble, for Manchester United followed in season 1998-99, in which Keane continued to suffer from cruciate ligament problems for the second consecutive season and missed the Champions League Final due to suspension. He would make up for some of this, at least, in his performance in the Intercontinental Cup later in the year, in which he scored the winner against Palmeiras in Tokyo.

A sixth Premier League title in eight seasons followed, in season 1999-2000, with Keane voted PFA Players’ Player of the Year.

Injuries affected the latter stages of Keane’s playing career but he returned to the Manchester United team in 2002-2003 for the club’s eighth Premier league title in eleven seasons.

Keane attracts so much publicity and so many media words because as player, manager and TV analyst we always await keenly a Keane quotation ! Memorable tributes were frequently paid to him as a player. Sir Alex Ferguson described his performance in the Champions League against Juventus in 1999 as ‘the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him’.

Keane has exceeded his peers in having one of his quotations - relating to a certain type of football-follower, as ‘The prawn sandwich brigade’ - adopted by the English language.

His comments on those ROI players selected for the national team purely because of where the towns they come from.

His clashes with Alf-Inge Håland and Patrick Vieira are written in Premier League history and are as memorable as Keane’s brilliance as a footballer.

From his first involvement with the ROI international squad, at under-21 level in 1991, Keane described the set-up and facilities as ‘A bit of a joke’ and at the age of twenty, challenged the Ireland Manager, Jack Charlton, on the issue.

As a new international squad member, Keane summarised the ROI’s performance at the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA as ‘Nothing to celebrate. We achieved little.’

Keane’s most-famous interaction with a manager, Mick McCarthy, was courtesy of the 2002 World Cup Finals in Japan, again owing to the quality of the facilities, the training pitch Keane describing as ‘a car park’. This hit the headlines immediately and the uncomplimentary words Keane had used in describing his manager remained in the news for several weeks after the event. He was persuaded not to return to the UK, as Keane was insisting on doing, and remained with the squad. 

Keane’s fervent belief in discipline and teamwork moved with him into management. In 2007 at Sunderland when three players were late for the team coach, Keane left them behind and put a player on the transfer list for being repeatedly late for training and team meetings.

Keane retired from international football after the country’s failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup Finals and in an effort to prolong his club career. He had left Manchester United by mutual consent in late 2005 and joined Celtic in January 2006, where Keane and his new club won the Scottish Premier League and Scottish League Cup double, his last honours as a player. Keane announced his retirement from professional football on medical advice at the end of the season.

Keane was appointed manager of Sunderland shortly after his retirement as a player and took the club from bottom of The Championship in August to be promoted as champions the following May. Half way through the following season in the Premier League, he resigned, and from April 2009 to January 2011 managed Ipswich Town in The Championship.

In November 2013, Keane was appointed assistant to Martin O’Neil in the Republic of Ireland national team, which Keane attempted to combine with assistant to manager Paul Lambert at Aston Villa for the first few weeks of the 2014-15 season, but decided to focus on international duty.

As a player Keane was the best midfielder most of us ever saw, with an energy, power, work rate, tenacity, aggression, technical brilliance and never-say-die competitiveness that frightened opposition.


Both the honours he won with his teams and those he was awarded individually warrant mention:

Nottingham Forest

Full Members' Cup: 1991–92

Manchester United

Premier League: 1993–94, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03

FA Cup: 1993–94, 1995–96, 1998–99, 2003–04

FA Community Shield: 1993, 1996, 1997, 2003

UEFA Champions League: 1998–99

Intercontinental Cup: 1999


Scottish Premier League: 2005–06

Scottish League Cup: 2005–06


PFA Team of the Year: 1992–93 Premier League, 1996–97 Premier League, 1999–2000

Premier League, 2000–01 Premier League, 2001–02 Premier League

PFA Team of the Century: (1907–2007)

FAI Senior International Player of the Year: 1997, 2001

FWA Footballer of the Year: 2000

PFA Players' Player of the Year: 2000

Premier League 10 Seasons Awards: (1992–93 to 2001–02)

English Football Hall of Fame: 2004

FIFA 100

Premier League 20 Seasons Awards: (1992–93 to 2011–12)

Capture a piece of Roy Keane's legacy with this signed shirt from

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