July 12, 2024

Roy Keane and Faking Injury

Probably the two most controversial events during Roy Keane’s soccer career (and there have been many controversies) involve him taking exception, in the extreme, to being accused of faking injury. Why should this be? What is it about the idea of faking an injury that is so anathema to him? Is it that the idea of faking injury does not fit well with the image of a hard man that he worked so hard to cultivate?

Roy Keane – Small, Shy but Tough

Roy Keane’s autobiography tells us that he certainly seemed to revel in his hard man image from an early age. Roy the boy was small for his age. It appears that Keane was a victim of the Napoleon Complex or Small Man Syndrome and consequently felt he had to prove his mettle at every turn. In his book he emphasises very early on that “I could look after myself even though I was small and shy”[Page 4]. In the context of him not making the final Ireland Under 15’s trial he says that the reason was that he was too small. “Some also questioned my temperament. The irony was that I had the ‘temperament’ because I was so small.”[Page 8]

In Keano: Portrait of a Hero a neighbour of Roy’s in Cork when he was a boy relates a story that is a precursor to the the tunnel row with Viera in February 2005.

“This fat kid…was constantly beaten up. His dad had a shop in Mayfield and this gang of kids used to wait for him…and hit him. They made him bring sweets and other stuff from the shop in exchange for not getting beaten up. It went on for a while until Roy stopped it. He didn’t say anything to anyone about it. Not even to his friends. He just made sure he walked to school with the fat kid and when the bullies lined up to take the sweets he stepped in and hit the leader in the mouth. He was bigger than Roy but Roy hit him really hard and his lip bled and he fell to his knees…Roy just could not bear any sort of bullying.”

All through his biography Keane revels in the fact that, from his boyhood street games to the latter stages of his Manchester United career, he could mix it with the toughest players. He could always give as good as he got. He compared his football career with war. War was what he did for a living [Page 226] and he enjoyed the conflict.

Southgate and Haaland Incidents

Keane wants to be seen as a hard man and abhors any accusation of faking injury, yet he does not seem to be bothered by being associated with craven acts such as stamping on Gareth Southgate, twice, while his opponent was lying on the ground defenceless [Page 142]. In his autobiography Keane positively revels in the fact that he mercilessly stamped into Alf-Inge Haaland’s exposed knee as Haaland made a genuine and fair attempt to win the ball [Page 231].

This was Keane’s retribution on Haaland for having the temerity to accuse Keane of faking injury three years earlier. At the time it was not an unreasonable claim by Haaland as Keane had injured himself while trying to kick the Norwegian. There was no way that Haaland could have known that Keane was badly injured. For this perceived slight Keane waited three years to exact revenge by inflicting a career-threatening horror tackle on Haaland.

Saipan Tirade of Abuse

The second major ‘faking injury’ incident was of course during that infamous Republic of Ireland squad meeting when Keane said that Irish football manager Mick McCarthy had accused him of faking injury. In his World Cup Diary McCarthy says he asked Roy Keane “…why he pulled out of the trip to Iran on the Sunday morning, just hours after telling me that he was going.”[Mick McCarthy: Ireland’s World Cup 2002 – Page 176].

Keane’s autobiography has a different take on the exchange. According to Keane Mick McCarthy said “You were supposed to Iran and you didn’t, you faked injury to get out of playing for your country.”[Page 265]. At this Keane admits that he “snapped”. The suggestion that he might have faked injury was too much for Keane to take. The Irish captain launched into a tirade of abuse and accusations directed at McCarthy. Others present were truly shocked by Keane’s vitriolic outburst, including Niall Quinn, Matt Holland and Jason McAteer.

Subsequently Keane admitted that his outburst was so bad that McCarthy was right to send him home. “I have never called Sir Alex Ferguson anything of the kind. We have had our arguments, of course, but I would not be a Manchester United player today if I had ever spoken to him like that.”

Keane Deliberately Missed Irish Friendly Matches

From 1996 to 2002 Keane only played in seven out of 28 friendly and mini-tournament matches. Excuses such as injury and tiredness were the reasons put forward for missing the majority of the friendly matches that were played while McCarthy was the Irish football manager.

Since the Saipan incident Keane has admitted that he disliked friendly matches and avoided playing in them. Instead of telling the truth at the time Roy Keane left himself open to justifiable accusations of faking injury. In such circumstances it is difficult to fathom why accusations, or perceived accusations, of faking injury should drive Keane over the edge.

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

Roy Keane & Integrity

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