In a career of so many highlights, the sight of Roy Keane with his head in his hands after collapsing in agony against Leeds United in 1997 will go down as one of the low points.
Roy Keane ruptured his cruciate ligament as he sprinted alongside Alf-Inge Haaland, prompting a furious reaction from the Norwegian defender.
Keane was not play-acting, as Haaland suspected, but rather was dealing with a very serious injury that ruled him out for the remainder of the season.
Keane, who was named Manchester United captain at the beginning of the campaign, underwent an extensive rehabilitation programme that was put together by then-United physio Dave Fevre.
Fevre grew quite close to Keane as the skipper returned to fitness and recalled how Keane refused to get bogged down after learning of the severity of his injury.
“We were waiting for the surgeon,” Fevre told The Athletic. “Roy was sitting on his bed, I was sitting at the side, and he’d got the TV on. He was watching Celebrity Squares. Then, all of a sudden, he got the remote control and turned it off. He looked at me. ‘All right, then. So what the fuck’s going on with my knee?’
“I went through everything with him. I told him, in my opinion, what I thought it was. I told him that hopefully, I was wrong but at the same time, I was pretty certain I was not far off. The surgeon was on the way. The radiographer was coming in to do the scan. Everybody was doing what they could. ‘Well, let’s get on with it,’ he said. Then he put the TV back on and carried on watching Celebrity Squares.”
Keane would ultimately get revenge on Haaland with a gruesome tackle years later and while Keane rejected suggestions that he deliberately injured his rival, the Irishman did admit that he wanted to hurt “the absolute prick.”
The story of Keane’s career cannot be told without referencing the Haaland incident but he is not perpetually aggressive, as some might believe.
Fevre recalled how Keane made a point of expressing his appreciation with a gift when the physio left United to begin working for Blackburn Rovers.
“On my first day at Blackburn’s training ground, Brian McClair (then Blackburn’s assistant manager) came up to me to say a big box had arrived with my name on it,” Fevre said.
“I’d been there only a few hours. It was a parcel from Roy and his wife, Theresa, and inside there was a set of crystal glasses to say thank you for everything I had done for him. A lot of people don’t see that side of Roy.”