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Roy Keane took punch from former manager Brian Clough without complaint

Roy Keane Brian Clough

The Irish midfielder could always dish it out and, apparently, he could take it too.

Roy Keane cut an unassuming figure when he first broke into Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest team as a 19-year-old but he quickly made it clear that he was anything but quiet when it came to footballing matters.

Keane was signed by Clough’s Forest from Cobh Ramblers for £47,000 in the summer of 1990 and he initially found it difficult to adapt to life in England, having requested permission to return to Cork on several occasions during his early days in Nottingham.

Keane’s Forest debut took everyone by surprise as Clough decided to start the Irish teenager against Liverpool at Anfield, naming Keane on the right wing and tasking Forest right-back at the time, Brian Laws, with looking after the youngster against John Barnes.

Keane wasted little time in stamping his personality on the game and his studs on Barnes, however.

“Within five minutes of the game, Roy had trampled on Barnes; he had stood on him,” Laws told The Athletic.

“He booted him and then simply told him, ‘Fuck off’ when he tried to complain.

“I had no reason to worry, he was fantastic. He wasn’t a winger, you could see that, but he had so much energy and was completely fearless. He would throw himself into tackles and he did not give a shit who the opposition were.

“I did not have to look after him. He looked after me. All the Liverpool players were looking at him as if to say, ‘Who the hell do you think you are?’ He would just snarl.”

Keane was a favourite of Clough’s but the Corkman wasn’t spared the legendary manager’s infamous wrath by any means.

Keane took more than one wallop from Clough during their time together at the City Ground and it tended to be Keane’s fondness for nightlife that would get him in bother with his gaffer.

One of the most memorable incidents came when Keane and some Forest teammates failed to obey a curfew during a training trip to Jersey.

Roy Keane accepted Brian Clough’s punch

“Roy was getting a bit cocky; he came back a little bit chirpy. Cloughie was in the foyer of the hotel, waiting,” Laws recalled.

“He wanted to bring him down a peg or two. So he gave him a punch and then sent him home. To be fair to Roy, he took it. He didn’t fight back.

“He respected him, it was like his dad had given him a bit of a hiding. He stepped out of line, went too far and got himself a clip around the ear for it. I think he understood that he deserved it.”

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