Jason McAteer proud that he ‘got in Roy Keane’s head’ prior to elbow incident

Jason McAteer has boasted that he figured out how to push Roy Keane’s buttons towards the end of the pair’s rivalry as players.

There has been no shortage of harsh words and tough tackles exchanged by Roy Keane and Jason McAteer over the years and the animosity seems to have carried into their post-playing careers.

McAteer is not one to shy away from criticising Keane, while the Corkman didn’t have many nice things to write about McAteer in his autobiography.

While there is no love lost between the former Republic of Ireland internationals, there seems to be mutual respect and McAteer admitted that he learned quite a bit from Keane, although he didn’t exactly get along with the former Manchester United captain.

McAteer told the Big Interview: “I think I learned more from being around him [Keane] than playing against him. I didn’t fear playing against him because I always had the attitude you don’t fear anybody on a football pitch.

“You give as good as you get and it doesn’t matter if everybody says he’s the best, you’ve got to show everyone that you’re the best.

“I never feared him and I came up against him with Sunderland. We were a lot older then and our relationship was quite weird.

“We weren’t mates initially. We had difference in opinions early on – we were young. We were a little bit immature, the pair of us, with things we did.

“Then we got older, wiser and more experienced and we realised that there was a tribalism between Liverpool and Man United. I think we had to dislike each other because of that so we did.”

McAteer has previously expressed some sympathy towards Keane for the Saipan incident but the former Liverpool midfielder also admitted to wanting to “smash” Keane on occasion.

Keane infamously got sent off for an elbow on McAteer when United travelled to Sunderland in 2002, after the Black Cats midfielder taunted Keane by telling him to write about the match in his next book.

“As we get into our later careers I knew what button to press to wind him up. I just knew how to get to him,” McAteer explained.

“I think that Sunderland – Man United game I got in his head. I really got in his head.

“Like I said it was all about winning. I said a few things to him to gain an advantage. I gained that advantage. I set the equaliser up and he ended up elbowing me in the side of the head and getting himself sent off.

“I walked off smiling and felt like the job was done.

“What I learnt from playing with him is that in a dressing room he demands that you do everything right. You don’t shirk tackles, you give 100 per cent, you roll your sleeves up and get your hands dirty.

“He demands it and if he tells you off you’re getting told off.”

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