Martin O’Neill has given an insight into why he chose Roy Keane as his Republic of Ireland assistant despite his reputation for being ‘wild’.
O’Neill was appointed Ireland manager in 2013.
He soon chose Roy Keane as Ireland assistant and the pair had some early success with the national side. It was match made in heaven to begin with as the Republic of Ireland qualified for Euro 2016.
However, O’Neill’s tenure came to an unceremonious end in November 2018. Failure to qualify for the World Cup was followed by a poor run of results.
Soon, both O’Neill and Keane stepped away.
Roy Keane Ireland assistant
O’Neill was in conversation with Chris Sutton, his first signing when he took over at Celtic.
When asked whether the perception of Keane being wild was true, O’Neill confirmed it to be accurate.
When pushed on why he would then choose Keane as his Ireland assistant, O’Neill revealed that he overlooked the fact that Keane was seen as controversial.
Instead, he focused on how much of an iconic figure he was to Manchester United and Ireland fans.
“We’d done some work together on TV,” O’Neill told Sutton as part of his Daily Mail column.
“He divided opinion as a player with the national team, particularly that incident in Saipan ahead of the 2002 World Cup when he walked out after a fight with Mick McCarthy.
“But he’d been a fantastic footballer and an iconic figure.
“He was a driving force for Manchester United and he didn’t just drive them on for a year — he did it for a decade.
“Overall, we felt we could come in and resurrect Ireland. We qualified for Euro 2016, beating the world champions Germany along the way. Roy had his own opinions which he didn’t mind forcing through and that’s fine.
“Roy is always worth listening to.”
O’Neill also gave an insight into how he got the manager’s job at Celtic. The Derry man revealed that a phone call from Alex Ferguson set the wheels in motion for a move to Glasgow.
“I got a telephone call from Sir Alex Ferguson to ask if I’d take a call from Dermot Desmond (Celtic’s major shareholder).
“Dermot and I didn’t know each other at all. But I was interviewed for the job and knew within seconds I wanted to join Celtic.”