Former Manchester United winger Jesper Blomqvist has outlined what it was like for him to play alongside Roy Keane during his time at Old Trafford.
Blomqvist joined the Red Devils in 1998 and featured frequently in their treble-winning season, starting the Champions League final against Bayern Munich – a game Keane missed through suspension.
The Irish captain picked up a yellow card in the semi-final against Juventus, with Blomqvist explaining that Keane blamed him for a bad pass which led to the booking.
“Roy Keane blamed me for the pass I gave to him, which led to him being booked and suspended from the final,” Blomqvist told the Athletic. “It wasn’t the best ball in the world, but he had a bad first touch which lost possession.
‘He was so angry’ – Blomqvist on Keane
“It’s to his credit that he then had one of the greatest games of his career, but he was shouting at me in the dressing room after. He was so angry and saying, ‘It’s your fucking fault that I’m going to miss the final’. I thought he was mad at me for a long time!”
“That was the way he worked,” says Blomqvist. “Things were never his fault. I’ve seen Roy since and I can laugh now. We didn’t talk about that incident and I’ve changed my opinion, but at the time I didn’t care much for his attitude. He went on about it for weeks and it became a bit of a joke in the dressing room.”
Blomqvist may have found Keane difficult to work with when he first arrived at Old Trafford however the former Swedish international was full of praise for the Irishman’s drive and work ethic.
“I thought he was mad and annoying. I couldn’t understand him and thought he was being egotistical. He shouted a lot, especially at players like Phil Neville, but I realised that Roy was always putting the team first. Alex Ferguson knew that, so let him continue. Roy also stood up for the players, whether it was on the pitch or off it with commercial decisions.
‘Harsh words were his way of trying to make you stronger’
“He was an excellent player, with vision about what was going on in the game. He worked hard defensively and offensively. He was driven and the harsh words were his way of trying to make you stronger.
“He was testing you and if you could take his hard words then you were ready for the biggest matches. It took me a year to get used to him. You always want a player like Keane in your team, but they’re rare in today’s football. Roy was number one in the dressing room and he had to be. He demanded more from the rest of the team.”
Blomqvist suffered a serious knee injury the next season which meant that he missed two years of action at Old Trafford before eventually moving to Everton.
Injuries would continue to plague him however with the Swede only making 15 appearances for Everton and three for Charlton before moving back to his home country.