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Rob Burnett: We need Ireland to make it to Euro 2016 – if only for the Roy Keane show

07 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: We need Ireland to make it to Euro 2016 – if only for the Roy Keane show

The sports editor believes next summer's showpiece would suffer without one of the most entertaining figures in the game

“Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a f*****g w****r. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a f*****g w****r and you can stick your World Cup up you’re a***. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b******s.”

One of the finest rants ever from a footballer – with extra points for the creativity in the pay off line.

The spark for Roy Keane’s epic tantrum followed his earlier criticisms of the organisation for the Republic of Ireland squad as they flew out to the far east for the 2002 World Cup – the last international tournament Keano had any involvement in.

He told the Irish Times:

“You’ve seen the training pitch and I’m not being a prima donna. Training pitch, travel arrangements, getting through the bloody airport when we were leaving, it’s the combination of things. I would never say ‘that’s the reason or this is the reason’, but enough is enough.”

Since that summer – when Ireland got within a penalty shoot-out of the quarter finals without Keane, while he walked the hell out of his Labrador retriever Triggs around the lanes of Cheshire – the combative Cork man has come a long way.

After leaving Manchester United in 2005 – in part as a result of another rant, this time about the club’s young players when he told in-house station MUTV: “Just because you are paid £120,000-a-week and play well for 20 minutes against Tottenham, you think you are a superstar,” he played a season at Celtic, and then moved into management himself.

A successful period at Sunderland saw him take the Black Cats from bottom of the Championship to Premier League safety, before a less successful spell at Ipswich where he even tried to get the owner to change the colour of the training shirts (“I don’t like f****** blue. City were blue. Rangers were blue. My biggest rivals were blue.”).

He was eventually sacked when he couldn’t repeat promotion with the Tractor Boys.

Since then he has, in political parlance, retreated to the back benches somewhat, making do with punditry and assistant manager roles with the Republic of Ireland and, for a brief spell, at Aston Villa.

And yet even though it is a decade since he was a player and almost four years since he left Ipswich, Keano is still box office, still worth listening to, still immensely quotable.

His latest autobiography was the best sports book published last year. Not for him the standard title of “INSERT NAME HERE: My Story” or the usual platitudes about his team-mates and fond memories of his former managers.

Keane went in on all of them – Fergie, Carlos Queiroz, Robbie Savage – as he had Alf-Inge Haaland.

And it was brilliant. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to pick up a copy – Manchester United fan or not. You won’t regret it.

And now the man with the scariest beard in football stands on the brink of helping another Republic team to a major tournament.

A play-off spot looks likely for Keane and Martin O’Neill’s side, and the good news is they will not have to face France or Thierry Henry’s hand in that tie.

I for one will be rooting for them – if only to watch Keane’s brooding presence on the bench (hopefully the beard will be back for the tournament) and for the inevitably hilarious comments he will be coming out with when he’s there.

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