May 25, 2024

Roy Keane Shows Real Character

Roy Keane Dominates Juventus in Turin


Contrast Roy Keane’s attitude towards his on-pitch violence with his view of one of the most inspiring and jaw-dropping performances by any soccer player, anywhere, at any time. The performance in question was his. The opposition was the mighty Juventus. The venue was the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin. The circumstances were that it was the second leg of the 1999 Champions League semi-final; United had just about scraped 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford with a very late equaliser from Ryan Giggs; Juventus were big favourites to make the final; within ten minutes of the start of the second leg United were 2-0 down; and this Juventus midfield was oozing with the class of Edgar Davids, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane.

By any realistic judgement of the situation, United looked dead and buried – but then Roy Keane does not tend to view things as the rest of us do.

Roy Keane gritted his teeth, clenched his fists, and stamped his superior will on the star-studded Juventus midfield.

In a immense performance of leadership, skill and determination Keane first harried the Juventus midfielders, then subdued them, and then stabbed them with a beautiful headed goal. He eventually totally dominated them to provide an unshakeable platform for his team mates to finish Juventus off. Goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole delivered the coupe de grace.

It was a truly stunning performance by Roy Keane and a real privilege to have witnessed it live.

Keane Undeterred by Missing Champions League Final

His performance was all the more remarkable because, while United were still trailing in aggregate by 3-2 and the Juventus team was still posing a major goal threat, Keane was booked for an innocuous tackle on Zidane as he stretched to reach a poor pass from United’s Jesper Blomqvist. The booking meant that Roy Keane would be suspended for the 1999 Champions League final in the Nou Camp in Barcelona. In his autobiography Keane said that, “…I was so much into this battle that the consequences of the card barely registered.”[Page 187]. That is somewhat doubtful as Keane’s remonstration with Blomqvist suggested that he was fully aware of the significance of the booking.

What is not in doubt is that, unlike Paul Gascoigne, who found himself in similar circumstances in a 1990 World Cup semi-final, he did not descend into a blubbering mess. Instead he disregarded his own personal misfortune and simply applied himself with amazing vigour and commitment to drive Manchester United on to it’s first European Cup final since 1968. This was an objective that Keane and Alex Ferguson had mutually shared since their first ever meeting.

Roy Keane’s & Alex Ferguson’s View of Turin 1999

It is worth contrasting how Sir Alex Ferguson and Keane viewed the Irishman’s monumental performance on that amazing night in Turin.

In Alex Ferguson – Managing My Life the Manchester United described Keane’s performance thus, “I did not think I could have a higher opinion of any footballer than I already had of the Irishman but he rose even further in my estimation at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The minute he was booked and out of the final, he seemed to redouble his efforts to get the team there. It was 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. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”

In Roy Keane’s utobiography Keane is much more understated and modest in his comments about his performance, “I was proud of our team that night. I was for once proud of myself, content that I had justified my existence and honoured my debts to the manager who’d placed so much trust in me. The Champions League final was where I believed Manchester United should be. I genuinely felt that that was so much more important than whether or not I would be there. When that euphoric feeling evaporated (it lasted quite a while) I was gutted.”[Page 187-188].

For Keane this was no false modesty. In his autobiographical video Roy Keane: As I See It (2002) he expressed a view that he felt guilty about the booking in the semi-final as it meant that he had let the team down by not being available for the final !

Roy Keane’s View of the World

In the same way that Roy Keane cannot see how flagrant acts of violence, such as those as perpetrated by him in his horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland and his stamp on Gareth Southgate, are totally unacceptable to any right-thinking soccer fan he cannot fully understand that his performance against Juventus was of unparalleled magnificence.

To most people both are as obvious as the bulging veins on his temple were when he famously led a posse of United players in pursuit of referee, Andy D’Urso.

Yet in whatever universe that Keane lives in he doesn’t see things the way the rest of us do. It is this aspect of his character is what ultimately led to the Saipan Incident – indeed perhaps made it almost inevitable.

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

Roy Keane – Sandwiches

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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