If it was up to Roy Keane, he’d never hear the word ‘Saipan’ again.
Unfortunately, the story of Roy Keane’s career cannot be told without mentioning the infamous fall-out with Mick McCarthy in Saipan as the Republic of Ireland team prepared for the 2002 World Cup.
Keane ultimately left the training camp after a dispute with then-Ireland manager McCarthy over the training facilities and many different versions have been told of what went on in the argument.
Forward Clinton Morrison has told the story many times and, apparently, Keane asked him to stop telling it.
Morrison revealed on the Super 6 podcast: “When I see Roy at Sky now, he’s like ‘stop telling that story!’
“I say ‘Roy, I have to. People are going to ask me.’ Me and him get on really well though.”
Morrison, who was sat next to Keane and Steve Finnan when the argument broke out, told the story yet again on the podcast.
Morrison explained how McCarthy stormed into the room with a newspaper – after telling the players not to speak to the media – and asked Keane why he’d given an interview about the kit being misplaced.
“I believe in that situation that all things could have been done differently,” Morrison started.
“Mick could have known that Roy is a hothead and he flips at the best of times so maybe he could have pulled him one-on-one and asked him not to do it.”
Morrison, who was born in London but played 36 times for Ireland, then explained exactly what was said and how the dispute played out.
“I’m sitting there and thinking that this is crazy,” Morrison continued. “We’re at a World Cup and the manager is arguing with one of the players at a dinner table.
“Roy Keane basically told McCarthy he was a bad footballer and said ‘you’re a bad manager anyway.’
“Mick went back to him and said something about ‘when you were playing and you had an injury, you didn’t want to come.’
“And Roy interrupted and said ‘well I had an injury.’
“Mick said ‘you just wanted to go back to your club’ and Roy said ‘no, I had an injury so what are you talking about? You’re not even Irish anyway, you’re English!'”
Morrison then felt like he might be called on to intervene when it looked like things were about to get physical between manager and captain but assistants and experienced players calmed the situation down.
The incident galvanised the squad, according to Morrison, but he believes that Ireland could have gone further than the last 16 if they had Keane in their ranks.
“I think if we had Roy Keane there, we would have gone further because he was such a big influence,” Morrison said.
“He is the best I’ve seen in training.”