Steven Caldwell recalls Roy Keane’s reaction to Sunderland players wearing ‘recovery leggings’

Roy Keane took exception to a couple of players wearing leggings during his time managing Sunderland.

For a while, it looked as though Roy Keane had a promising managerial career ahead of him.

In August 2006, just two months after hanging up his boots, the former Manchester United captain was appointed Sunderland manager.

At the time, the Black Cats were struggling at the foot of the Championship table, and Keane was tasked with reversing their fortunes.

Despite being a coaching novice, Keane’s appointment at the Stadium of Light yielded outstanding results, with Sunderland achieving promotion back to the Premier League at the end of his first season in charge.

Keane kept Sunderland up during a difficult 2007/08 season, but resigned in December 2008 following a breakdown in his relationship with club owner Ellis Short and chairman Niall Quinn.

And, as it turns out, Keane’s relationship with some of his players was far from jovial during his spell in the North East of England.

Steven Caldwell, Sunderland captain at the time of Keane’s appointment, told The Athletic that the former Ireland midfielder was needlessly confrontational at times.

Caldwell, who left Sunderland in January 2007, recalled how Keane launched into a furious rant when he saw the Scottish defender and Graham Kavanagh, who played alongside Keane with Ireland, wearing leggings in training.

“There was one cold day where he got this massive bee in his bonnet,” said Caldwell.

“Graham Kavanagh and I were wearing recovery leggings, which were just coming in back then. It was partly for warmth and partly for your muscles.

“He was furious about it. ‘Why are you guys wearing them? You’re Scottish and Irish, for goodness sake! Yorkie [Dwight Yorke] can wear them, he’s from Trinidad and Tobago!’

“It was just mumbling stuff. We were wearing them for scientific reasons and he was calling it ‘fucking rubbish’. It was just very confrontational.”

Caldwell clearly didn’t gel with Keane’s brusque approach to man-management, but the former Scotland international fared much better after joining Burnley, captaining the Clarets to Premier League promotion in 2009.

As for Keane, the next stop in his managerial journey was Ipswich Town, where he lasted just over 18 months before being dismissed in January 2011.

The 49-year-old has since acted as assistant manager for Ireland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, and works regularly as an analyst for Sky Sports and ITV.

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