Steven Reid found the positives in the infamous departure.
It’s been 19 years, almost to the day, since Roy Keane left Saipan after voicing his dissatisfaction about the facilities available to the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of the 2002 World Cup.
Keane returned home after his very public spat with then-Ireland boss Mick McCarthy and the pair have never quite patched things up since.
While many expected Ireland to struggle in the absence of their captain, the Boys in Green progressed to the knockout rounds of the World Cup and were unlucky to be eliminated by Spain on penalties in the Round of 16.
Roy Keane leaves Saipan
Keane’s former Ireland teammate, Steven Reid, has suggested that the Corkman’s departure actually galvanised the Irish side and inspired them to a better tournament than many anticipated.
“You could argue it brought a togetherness to the squad in a way,” Reid told the Glasgow Times.
“It gave someone else an opportunity to play in that midfield position. We got out of the group and got knocked out on penalties to Spain.
“We arguably could have gone a lot further in the competition because we were the better team against Spain. It was the pinnacle of my career.”
Reid, who made 23 appearances for Ireland, has spent the last two years as part of Scotland’s coaching team under manager Steve Clarke.
The former Millwall, Blackburn and West Brom midfielder hopes his experience of playing in a major tournament with Ireland can be passed on to the Scottish squad, who are currently preparing for Euro 2020.
“There are little bits I can offer the gaffer, hopefully, having been in that tournament with the Republic, ideas I can bring in to help the lads as well along the way,” Reid added.
“I was the youngest in that squad when I went with the Republic so hopefully those experiences can help along the way.”