Big Jack had a massive role in Roy Keane joining Manchester United.
Before he signed for Manchester United, Roy Keane made his international debut in 1991 for Jack Charlton’s Ireland against Chile.
Big Jack was well aware of Keane’s prodigious talents from a young age, so it’s no surprise that he handed the 19-year-old his debut early on in his career. In fact, Charlton had a firm interest in the Corkman because as soon as he saw him play, he rated Keane very highly.
While Charlton and Keane didn’t always see eye-to-eye, the former Ireland manager played a massive role in the midfielder’s formative years, especially when Keane was about to leave Nottingham Forest in 1993.
Despite playing in a side that was relegated, the Irishman won Forest’s player of the year and it was clear that he was destined for bigger things.
In the documentary Have Boots Will Travel, Charlton reveals that Ferguson called him to enquire about Keane’s qualities and that he gave the Manchester United manager some sage advice.
“Alex Ferguson phoned me up before he signed him and he said ‘what about this boy Roy Keane?’ He was about 20/21 at the time and I said ‘Alex, get him bought.’ Alex said ‘well, it’s a lot of money, you know, £3m or something.’
“I said ‘Alex, if you buy him, he’s got a great engine and you’ll never regret buying him. If you want to sell him on in a couple of years, you’ll probably get £6/7m out of Europe for him.”
Charton’s involvement in Keane’s move to Old Trafford goes way beyond that though because according to Charlton’s son John, who worked with the Ireland team during his father’s 10-year reign as manager between 1985 and 1995, the former Ireland manager helped Keane sway towards Manchester United, rather than Blackburn Rovers.
After originally shaking hands on a deal to join Kenny Dalglish at Blackburn, Alex Ferguson swept in and convinced Keane to move to Old Trafford. However, Charlton also had some influence on the Corkman’s decision.
John Charlton, speaking to the Sunday Times, claims that his father had a decisive impact in the transfer.
“On one Ireland trip, in the hotel, I walked down the corridor and Roy was sat there in the bedroom with his roommate Denis Irwin,” Charlton says.
“Denis said to me: ‘Roy’s just got off the phone to Kenny Dalglish. He’s going to Blackburn’. I went and told dad. He said ‘what do you mean he is going to Blackburn? No he’s not. Go and get him and tell him to come and see me’.
“Roy went and spoke to Jack and a few days later he signed for Manchester United. Alex Ferguson had asked my dad about Keane and Jack told him that you will double your money in a few years, but you won’t want to get rid of him. Jack has never got the credit he deserves for that.”
Manchester United fans have a lot to thank Big Jack for.