In his book, Roy Keane was very critical of Matt Holland’s decision.
Having previously addressed Roy Keane’s comments about him singing the English national anthem at Wembley, Matt Holland elaborated on why he chose to do so during a recent interview.
In his second autobiography, Keane spoke about national identity and Irish internationals that were British-born who represented the Republic of Ireland.
Having won 49 caps for Ireland and famously scoring against Cameroon at the 2002 World Cup, Holland wore the green jersey with distinction and pride during his career. However, according to Keane, Holland was “as English as David Beckham.”
In his book, the former Manchester United captain referred to a time when he and other Ireland players saw Holland sing “God Save the Queen” at Wembley – ahead of a Championship playoff final in 2000 between Ipswich Town and Barnsley.
The midfielder, who was born in Bury, was playing for Ipswich at the time.
“Love of a country is a hard thing to measure. But if you see a player on the TV who played for Ireland, singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in a play-off final, you might just say, ‘Oh, right. Maybe he’s not really all that Irish’. Matty Holland would be an example. For me, Matty is as English as David Beckham. He played for Ireland and he obviously has the roots,” said Keane.
He added: “But he played for Ipswich in a play-off final, in 2000, and he was singing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the top of his voice. I don’t think he could have sung it any louder. Some of the other Irish lads saw him, too, so at the next couple of international matches we were going, ‘Turn that rebel music up a bit’.”
During a recent interview on Full Core Football 24, the former Ipswich and Charlton midfielder was asked if Keane ever gave him any face-to-face stick about his decision to sing the English national anthem?
“Never, no. I was never aware of that at all. I know he wrote stuff in his book and I honestly don’t know what the reception would be like if I saw Roy now. I genuinely don’t know if he’d speak to me or wouldn’t speak to me. I honestly don’t know, I think he quite likes that air of mystery and having people know that they can never get too close to him. I think most of the players who played with him will say the same – they’re not sure whether he’s their friend or not, whether you get on with him or not,” said Holland.
He adds: “Honestly, he (Keane) can be brilliant company. As a Man Utd fan, I used to grill him all the time about Man Utd and how they do things, trying to learn about the club. He’d be very open, have great conversations, and he’s very funny. Then, a minute later, he could perhaps not give you the time of day. He didn’t like you to get too close to him and he liked having that air of mystery.”
Later in the interview, the host asks Holland if he would respect Keane a bit more if he came to him directly and asked him about why he decided to sing the English anthem?
“Honestly, I’ve got no problem with it. I’ve no problem with what he says and writes – he’s entitled to do what he likes and I’ve no problem with that. Genuinely, I’ve no problem with him. If we bumped into each other in the street, I’d be more than happy to chat, have a coffee, and talk things over with him. Not a problem at all. Whether he’d do the same, I don’t know,” said Holland.
Aside from the chat about Keane, the whole interview is extremely interesting as Holland talks about Saipan, his time in the Irish setup, Mick McCarthy’s managerial style, his excellent club career, and much more.
During a previous interview, Holland said he had “mistakenly mumbled a few lines” of ‘God Save the Queen’ after seeing that George Burley, his Scottish manager, was also singing the anthem.
“It was a big occasion and my mind was on the game. I looked across and saw George Burley singing it and thought he’s Scottish maybe I should be singing it. I mistakenly mumbled a few lines (certainly not at the top of my voice) and am embarrassed by it. I don’t see any problem with the grandparent rule ( I wouldn’t would I?!)”
Holland retired from international duty with Ireland in 2005 and it’s obvious that he has no issues with Keane over publicising the story, however.
You can view the interview in full here and the relevant section about God Save the Queen can be found at the 29-minute mark.