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Michael Weston

Best Roy Keane quotes

Best Roy Keane quotes.

Manchester United legend Roy Keane was never short of a few words in his playing days, and the former midfielder’s switch to punditry following his retirement has provided more than a few memorable quotes – plus, of course, top-class insight.

We’ve been through the interview archives and some of his Super Sunday stints to compile this list of Keane’s best quotes, which has been supplemented by a handful more from his two books (do give them a read by the way).

32. Having outside interests 

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“People say you should have other stuff outside of football. I don’t think you should. I think football should be your number one priority. Don’t hide behind your cars or your tattoos or your girlfriends or your agent. Play the game.”

Remember when Jesse Lingard launched his own clothing line? “Do all that stuff when you retire,” Keane added.  

31. Playing with aggression 

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“Aggression is what I do. I go to war. You don't contest football matches in a reasonable state of mind.”

Telling it straight, Keane explains his combative nature in his autobiography. The key word is “war”, which goes some way to explaining why he never left anything out on the pitch. 

30. Phones in pressers 

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“Whose phone is that? That’s the second time it’s gone off. Why don’t you turn it off? Why don’t you put it on silent? Why don’t you turn it off? You’re just going to let it ring? That’s good manners.”     

Keane, when he was manager of Ipswich, wasn’t best pleased when a phone ran during a press conference. 

29. Prawn sandwiches 

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“As I've said, away from home our fans are what I would call the hardcore fans – but at home they have a few drinks and a prawn sandwich and don't realise what's going on out on the pitch and that's a worry.”

Not many players can get away with having a dig at their own fans. Roy was one of the few.

28. Not signing Robbie Savage 

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“I got Robbie’s mobile number and rang him. It went to his voicemail: ‘Hi, it’s Robbie – whazzup!’ Like the Budweiser ad. I never called him back. I thought: ‘I can’t be f****** signing that’.”

Robbie Savage’s voicemail recording meant that he never got the chance to play for Roy Keane’s Sunderland.

27. Mark Bosnich's punctuality 

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“Your first f****** day and you're an hour late!”

When goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel left Manchester United in 1999, the club went in search of finding a replacement. As first impressions go, it’s fair to say that the shot-stopper didn’t impress Keane, who let rip at the Aussie for his lack of professionalism.

26. Winning the Champions League 

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“No matter how many people tell me I deserve that Champions League medal, I know I don't.”

Keane couldn’t play in the 1999 Champions League final at the Nou Camp because he was suspended. Manchester United produced a legendary comeback against Bayern Munich and although it completed the treble, Keane wasn’t about to celebrate getting a medal.

25. That tackle 

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“[Haaland] was an absolute p**** to play against. I’d waited long enough. I f****** hit him hard.”

There’s another line or two after this, but we’ll leave it at that – you get the picture. He is, of course, talking about that infamous tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland, a player he didn’t have a lot of time for.

24. Dogs

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“Unlike humans, dogs don’t talk s***.”

Keane may have a reputation as one of the hardest men in football, but he’s really just a big softie at heart, especially when it comes to dogs. If you asked Keane whether he’d prefer to spend two hours in a pub talking football, or two hours walking his dogs, he’d probably choose the latter. 

23. Dwight Yorke's international career 

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“Dwight's a clown and he's on an ego trip; he's brought this on himself. He's retired from international football about five times.”

When Keane was in charge at Sunderland, he fell out with his former United teammate and Trinidad and Tobago striker Dwight Yorke. As far as insults handed out by Keane go, this one isn’t so bad.

22. Falling out with Mick McCarthy  

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“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.”

This is just a snippet from Keane’s autobiography, in which he gives his version of the fallout with Ireland manager Mick McCarthy prior to the 2002 World Cup. “You can stick your World Cup up your a***,” he added.

21. Parties... and smiling 

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“Three most overrated things in life, listen to this: parties, smiling and fireworks.”

Speaking on The Overlap, Keane reveals three things he’s not a fan of. “I’m never again going to a party,” he adds. Maybe the smiling was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but being a dog lover there can be little doubt that he hates fireworks.

20. On Gary Neville 

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“When you get in the first team you’re going to be quiet, but Gary became more vocal as he got a bit older, a bit braver. There’s no stopping him now.”

Keane’s dry sense of humour is never far from the surface. Here he is having a little pop at his former Manchester United teammate and fellow Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville.

19. United's failings under Ole

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“These are the same players who threw Mourinho under the bus, and they will do exactly the same to Ole.”

Jose Mourinho spent two-and-a-half years in charge at Old Trafford – winning three trophies – but was sacked after a poor start to the 2018/19 season. Keane saw what was happening when the pressure started to mount on his former teammate Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

18. Wantaway players 

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“If a player didn't want to play for me, I know what I'd do – I'd drive him myself to wherever he wants to go.”

After Keane’s Sunderland recorded a 2-1 victory at White Hart Lane in August 2008, the Black Cats boss offers his opinion on Spurs’ wantaway striker Dimitar Berbatov.

17. Shay Given's international career 

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“I think players have agendas, certain players come over all the time no matter what. Maybe they want to get 50 or 100 caps and a pat on the back for it. Shay is one of those ones. He wants to get 200 caps.”

This is Roy Keane questioning Shay Given's motives for wanting to appear in every international friendly.

16. Viera and Senegal 

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“Every week you, Senegal this, Senegal that, why don’t you f******’ play for them then?!”

Keane and Arsenal midfielder Patrick Viera never were the best of friends. When they weren’t scrapping on the pitch, they’d often be caught in a war of words off it. It all made for some interesting battles over the years.

15. Losing 6-3 to Saints 

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“Six-three at Southampton. My own family and friends couldn't leave the house, people taking the piss out of them at work, the jeering, mocking and sneering.”

There’s losing and there’s shipping six goals at the Dell, as the Red Devils did in 1996, when Southampton’s Matt Le Tissier and Eyal Berkovic ran rings around United.

14. On Liverpool

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“If Liverpool were playing out in my back garden, I wouldn’t watch them. They’re just drifting. Drifting nowhere.”

No prizes for guessing which team Keane was talking about here. This was from 2017, and the former Manchester United skipper was speaking about Liverpool. Keane has been more complimentary, at times, since then.

13. United the "new Spurs"

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“I think Manchester United are the new Spurs. Desperate.”

Keane was left seething after his old club went down 2-0 at Tottenham in August 2023. “United go away today, second-half they’re weak, no leadership, bad goals given away,” he added. “Spurs were lovely, all credit to them but it's easy to play against United.”

12. Fighting Peter Schmeichel 

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“I think he had two pints and got a bit brave.”

Oh, to have been a fly on the dressing room watching this one. Keane and Peter Schmeichel once had a dust-up, and Nicky Butt refereed. Keane explained: “Peter had grabbed me, I'd head-butted him. He started it. He said it himself, he held his hand up.”

11. Slamming the FAI 

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“I'd been involved with Ireland since I was 15 years of age and that man didn't have the decency to make a phone call.” 

After Ireland failed to reach the 2010 World Cup, Keane launched a verbal attack on the FAI and chief executive John Delaney. Keane left the team’s pre-World Cup training camp in 2002, and the Irishman hadn’t forgotten how he was treated.

10. Advice for Giovanni Trapattoni

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“I would sleep outside his house if I was [Giovanni] Trapattoni. I don’t know Stephen Ireland, you have to respect his decision. But I would sleep outside his house to try and get him back. He would make a big difference.”

Keane reveals the measures he’d have gone to get Stephen Ireland back playing for his country.

9. Pogba gets it 

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“I’ve watched him close. The guy doesn’t want to run.”

If you’re going to avoid escaping the wrath of the Keane, you have to do the basics. A number of players haven’t done that at Old Trafford since Keane left, and he’s quick to pull them up on it. One player in particular failed to impress – World Cup winner Paul Pogba.

8. FA charges 

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“The last time I was charged by the FA they had a murder lawyer in against me, so it’s going to be a hard case to win.”

There weren’t many battles the Manchester United man didn’t fancy himself winning, but going up against a murder lawyer did not fill him with optimism.

7. Thanking Brian Clough 

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“Cloughie was dead right, absolutely. It was the best thing he ever did for me.”

Keane revealed how Brian Clough once punched him when he was a young player just starting out at Nottingham Forest. He added: “He was upset, he was heated and he punched me. I remember thinking, ‘I still think you’re a brilliant manager.’”

6. The leather chair

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“I had a leather chair that swung around, a swivel chair. For the first few days I used to swing around on it. If any of the players or the staff had peeped through the office window they would have seen me going 'Weeehhhh!’”

It’s hard to picture, but this is what Keane says he used to do shortly after becoming Sunderland boss.

5. Explaining his tattoos

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“I’ve got my kids (tattooed) on my right arm: Shannon, Caragh, Aidan and Leah… The wife did ask me why didn’t I get hers and I said ‘they’ll always be my kids but you won’t necessarily always be my wife,’ which she wasn’t too pleased about.”

These remarks could have seen Keane get his marching orders… again.

4. Roy and Tony Cascarino

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“The day I worry about Tony Cascarino will be a very sad day of my life.”

These two are not pals. Keane once said: “I am happy to comment on people’s opinion in football I respect, but Tony Cascarino is a man I certainly do not respect, for a lot of reasons, and if I told you, you would be shocked.”

3. The infamous tunnel fight 

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“All I could see was a few fingers, pointing at Gary. I lost it. Five seconds earlier I'd been perfectly calm, in the zone, ready for the match.”

The infamous tunnel fight with fierce rivals Arsenal. Keane wasn’t happy that teammate Gary Neville appeared to be getting bullied. That’s when things really kicked off.

2. Reaching the end at United 

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“I'd known for a few days they were trying to get rid of me. I said to [Alex] Ferguson, ‘Can I play for somebody else?' And he said, 'Yeah, you can. 'Cos we're tearing up your contract.’”

You can only imagine what the atmosphere was like between these two strong characters. Frosty might be one way of describing it.

1. Getting his revenge 

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“I drove some f****** miles in that car. Every little victory is vital.”

Was Keane a little bitter when he left Manchester United? Perhaps, but he made sure he got his own back. Adding miles to the club car… that was sweet revenge. It would take someone brave to go and ask for the keys back.

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