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Roy Keane & Sandwiches (and not the prawn kind)
A recurring complaint made by Roy Keane in his autobiography (Eamon Dunphy was his ghostwriter) is the lack of professionalism in the Republic of Ireland set up. After the draw was made for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers was made in December 2002 Keane says that he arranged for a meeting with Irish soccer manager Mick McCarthy to "...make a case for a reformed approach. Let's have a go, do it right, sort these little things out."[Page 250]
Apparently McCarthy agreed with Keane although Keane admits that the conversation not any easy one. One of the aspects that Keane particularly stresses in this passage of his autobiography was diet. Keane insisted that the scientific evidence available to top clubs was that a football player's diet in preparation for a match was very important.
Sandwiches Cheesed Keane Off
Nine months later and on the day before Ireland's first qualification match against Holland in Amsterdam Keane walked into the hotel restaurant to dine with the other players. He says that he "...saw some of the lads sitting at a table eating cheese sandwiches. I couldn't believe it. We'd discussed diet.". In exasperation Keane asked the staff where was the pasta, fruit and cereals? There were none available so Keane ordered a takeaway pizza as the "...hotel didn't have the means of rustling up anything better in the time now available."[Page 251]. In his recollections of the row with Mick McCarthy on that fateful evening in Saipan Keane says that "...all the f**k-ups and bulls**t I and every other Irish player had to put up with for ten years flashed through my mind"including "The cheese sandwiches in Holland."[Page 266]. The issue of cheese sandwiches seems to have been a major event for Keane but there have been suggestions that Keane's recall of the cheese sandwiches episode is simply wrong.
Pasta was on the Menu
Former Irish soccer international Ray Treacy who was in the five star Hilton Hotel dining room at the time, remembers things differently. According to Treacy the team, "...had a buffet breakfast and a buffet lunch on the Friday..." Following an afternoon nap sandwiches and snacks were available to the players that were hungry prior to an evening training session. Following training the team had dinner around 7:30pm and they ate, "...a full dinner, with pasta, fish, chicken and meat."
Another member of the Irish back-room staff said that Keane walked into the dining room before the training session around 5pm. He demanded to know were was the pasta. Irish coach, Ian Evans (Taff) said "We ate it all." Reportedly Keane said, "What did you say?" Evans repeated jokingly, "We ate it all." Apparently Keane kicked a table and stormed out in anger. When the team arrived back for dinner Keane refused to have dinner with the rest of the team and chose to eat pizza in his room.
Unprofessionalism by Roy Keane
Regardless of whether Keane's version is correct or not, it is difficult to reconcile Keane's views and absolute rage that he expressed at the unprofessional approach by the Republic of Ireland with his own extant lack of professionalism. Just seven months prior to the meeting (mentioned above) with Mick McCarthy, Roy Keane had been arrested following a monumental drinking binge that took in a Sunday, after Manchester United had clinched the first part of the treble, and a Monday from midday [Page 199] until 10pm. This was the time he was arrested. This is hardly ideal or professional preparation for the FA Cup Final just five days later.
At 4pm on the Wednesday following the FA Cup Final a drunk Roy Keane "...crept into the room where Denis was sound asleep."[Page 209]. The room in question was a hotel room in Stiges that Keane and Denis Irwin were sharing. It was the day of the Champions League Final against Bayern Munich - the third leg of the unique treble.
Keane was not playing in the match as he had been suspended however just twelve hours later Denis Irwin would be! It seems wholly unprofessional that the Manchester United team captain should arrive back drunk into the room of a playing team mate just hours before United's most important match in over thirty years.
Hard Cheese for the Dutch
In fairness Keane's unprofessional approach to the second and third elements of the the unique treble did not cause any insurmountable difficulties to Manchester United's bid to create history. Equally the cheese sandwiches did not derail Ireland's efforts to qualify for the 2002 World Cup Finals.
In fact the cheese-inspired Irish actually led the Dutch 2-0 in Amsterdam before eventually succumbing to goals in the 71st and 84th minutes. While the result could have been better, a 2-2 draw against the Dutch in the Amsterdam Arena is hardly a disaster.
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all
quotations are from:
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals - Irish 2002 World Cup Squad - Irish Group Matches
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