May 25, 2024

Keane: The Autobiography


Roy Keane’s autobiography was ghost written by former Irish soccer international, journalist, broadcaster and soccer pundit, Eamon Dunphy. It was first published in 2002 in the wake of the the Saipan affair. It appears to have been written largely as a justification for Roy Keane’s actions while with the Republic of Ireland soccer team on that Pacific Island in May 2002.

It is in large measure a crude emotional reaction to the events in Saipan rather than a thoughtful proportionate insight. Obviously the book does include biographical information about Keane and does provide some valuable insights into what has formed the man that is Roy Keane. However there is an underlying tone and theme within the book that appears to be setting out a defence or justification of Keane’s role in the Saipan incident.

Inaccuracies in Keane’s Autobiography

Other reviewers of Keane: The Autobiography point out that it contains a number of inaccuracies and discrepancies. This should not be a surprise given that many of the events that are recounted in the autobiography were viewed by Keane through a drunken haze or through a rage-fuelled mist.

An example is the cheese sandwiches issue that so infuriated Keane that he says it came to mind during his invective laden Saipan tirade directed at Mick McCarthy. His account, as outlined in the autobiography, of this event is substantially contradicted by others that were present at the time, including former Irish football international Ray Treacy.

Another example was when he recounted details of an Irish team flight between Cyprus and Barcelona during the 2002 World Cup qualifiers. In the book Keane is scathing about the travel arrangements including the fact that the team as consigned to “Economy class: the big lads – Gary Breen, Derek Dunne, Quinny – squeezed up in small seats.”[Page 253]. There are a few things wrong with this single small extract from his book. The first may be a simple printing error. There was no Derek Dunne in the Irish football squad for that trip. Perhaps he meant Richard Dunne. The next thing is that Niall Quinn did not make that trip due to injury so he couldn’t have been squeezed up in economy class. Finally the flight was a charter flight arranged by former Irish football international Ray Treacy. Treacy confirmed that there was no economy class, all of the seats were the same.

There are other examples of discrepancies, inaccuracies and distortions of the facts by Keane including the circumstances surrounding his decision to play in a Zenith Data Systems Cup tie rather than accept a call up to the Irish squad. Also his timeline of events is Saipan does not conform to the known facts. None of these examples are entirely relevant to the Saipan affair however they are indicative of clouded thought processes. However such a lack of mental clarity may be at the root of the apparent complexity of Roy Keane’s character.

Keane’s Involvement in Producing his Autobiography

Although Eamon Dunphy’s influence in the autobiography is very pronounced, and is obvious to anyone that has ever listened to Dunphy talk about Roy Keane, there is no doubt that it is Keane’s book. In Manchester United: The Biography, it’s author Jim White, says, “Keane was not like most other players who never bother to read their own life story. He went through Dunphy’s manuscript carefully, suggesting seventeen changes.” [Page 366]. A significant number of passages are based upon Keane’s autobiographical video, As I See It. Dunphy used this as part of his source material. In the autobiography there is a passage where Roy Keane admits that he injured Alf-Inge Haaland deliberately in a premeditated attack on the Norwegian footballer. At the disrepute hearing with the FA “…Eamon Dunphy…would admit he’d paraphrased Keane’s words, while the player said Dunphy had used a ‘degree of artistic licence’.” (The Boss by Michael Crick – Page 599). This was a defence used for the purposes of minimising the sanctions that the FA might impose on Roy Keane but no further significance should be attached it. It is obvious that Keane stands by the contents of his book and as such it is a primary source for analysis purposes.

Keane: The Autobiography – as Eamon Dunphy Sees It

Having made that point there is no doubt that Dunphy’s influence is very pronounced. While Roy Keane is undoubtedly articulate it is not easy to imagine him uttering the words, “Eric’s sang froid was a major asset.”[Page 163] in relation to Eric Cantona. Also while there seems to be no doubt that Roy Keane viewed Jack Charlton with disdain when one reads the many references to Charlton in the book one could easily imagine the words emanating from the mouth of Eamon Dunphy.

There is another passage where there is a clear and ludicrous attempt to equate what Keane experienced with the Irish soccer squad with Muhammad Ali’s stance towards the draft for the Vietnam war. Keane watched the movie Ali, starring Will Smith, during the journey to Saipan and apparently one scene caught Keane’s attention. In the scene Ali was coming under enormous pressure from his family, friends and his Muslim mentors to accept the draft. Ali withstood the pressure. “You don’t compromise on your principles. Watching this is very moving … Something in this movie strikes a chord with me. Don’t put up with shit. I’m not fighting a white man’s war. It’s and inspiring notion, a demonstration of conviction that I understand very clearly, and relate to my own life. Don’t compromise on the things you believe in [author’s emphasis].”[Page 256]. This Dunphy-esque passage appears just before Keane relates how he heard that the training gear had failed to arrive in time for the first training session in Saipan.

In the extensive research for this analysis of the Saipan incident no record of any reference by Keane to Muhammad Ali emerged except in the autobiography penned by Eamon Dunphy. Clearly Keane didn’t disagree with it’s inclusion but it also seems clear that this is another case of Dunphy taking artistic and dramatic licence to support the basic thesis of the book. Or another way of looking at it – dishonesty.

In summary the content of his autobiography is Roy Keane’s but the emphasis and embellishment is all Eamon Dunphy.

NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Keane: The Autobiography; Roy Keane with Eamon Dunphy (2002); Michael Joseph Ltd

Roy Keane – Soccer Player

Back to Saipan Affair Table of Contents – Irish Football

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Saipan Table of Contents Roy Keane & Eamon Dunphy
Saipan Introduction Roy Keane & Cork
Methodology Keane’s Aversion to Being Away From Home
Saipan Conclusions Roy Keane’s Relationship with Ireland
Roy Keane – Mick McCarthy Relationship Roy Keane – Zenith Data Systems Cup
Roy Keane Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Jack Charlton Relationship
Mick McCarthy Version of Saipan Incident 1 Roy Keane’s Flawed Character
Mick McCarthy Account of Saipan Incident 2 Roy Keane’s Good Character
Niall Quinn Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Footballer
Jason McAteer Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Team Captain
Matt Holland Version of Saipan Incident Roy Keane – Family Man
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Backdrop Roy Keane & Faking Injury
Roy Keane & Saipan – The Issues Roy Keane – Bad Boy
Keane / McCarthy Boston Row 1992 Roy Keane – Career Lows
Keane Misses Iran Playoff Game Roy Keane – Red Cards
Keane Misses Niall Quinn Testimonial Roy Keane – Cruciate Injury
Countdown to Saipan Incident Roy Keane & Alf-Inge Haaland
Roy Keane Saipan Tirade at Mick McCarthy Roy Keane & Gareth Southgate Red Card
Roy Keane / Tom Humphries Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Alan Shearer Red Card
Keane / Humphries Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane / Alex Ferguson Relationship 1
Roy Keane / Irish Times Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Sir Alex Ferguson 2
Roy Keane / Paul Kimmage Saipan Interview 1 Roy Keane & Charity
Keane / Kimmage Saipan Interview 2 Roy Keane & Autobiography Contradictions
Roy Keane / Sunday Independent Saipan Interview 3 Roy Keane & Contradictions
Roy Keane / Tommie Gorman Interview 1 Roy Keane – Integrity
Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2 Roy Keane – International Matches
Roy Keane / RTE Interview 3 Roy Keane – Football Record
FAI Involvement in Saipan Affair Roy Keane & Sandwiches
Saipan Reaction of Irish Players Roy Keane – Walker
Mick McCarthy – ‘crap player, crap manager’ Saipan – Pacific Island
Roy Keane / Mick McCarthy Playing Record I Keano – The Musical
Colin Healy – Forgotten Man of Saipan Roy Keane – Football Manager
Saipan Ten Years Later Roy Keane’s Dog Triggs
Roy Keane’s Autobiography Saipan Bibiliography


Roy Keane – View Seven Years After Saipan
Football Quotes on Saipan


Triggs – The Autobiography of Roy Keane’s Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals – Irish 2002 World Cup Squad – Irish Group Matches
Ireland V Cameroon – Ireland V Germany – Ireland V Saudi Arabia – Ireland V Spain