“When the final whistle went, Roy was standing at the top of the stairs waiting for me.”
The Red Devils captain and his Newcastle counterpart got involved in an incident just before full-time. Shearer, who scored the winning goal on the day, and Keane got into a tussle as the Irish midfielder attempted to take a throw-in.
Keane threw the ball at Shearer, words were exchanged between the pair and the Man United captain swung a punch at his opponent. He missed but the referee saw it all unfold and showed Keane a red card.
Alan Shearer: Roy Keane was waiting for me after the red card.
Almost 20 years later, Shearer is still being asked about the incident and he gave his side of the story in The Athletic. The former Newcastle and England captain has said that Keane was waiting for him in the tunnel, but the pair were separated by their teammates.
“When you went from the pitch into the tunnel at St James’, there were a set of steps and then you split towards the home or away dressing-rooms,” Shearer writes.
“When the final whistle went, Roy was standing at the top of the stairs waiting for me. I’m pretty sure a few more choice words exchanged, there was some bustling and scrambling.
“But there were way too many people between us for anything physical to actually happen. That’s usually how it pans out in football.”
Keane’s account of the clash with Shearer.
In Keane’s first autobiography, he gives his side of the story. The match was level at 3-3 going into the final minutes, after Man United were trailing 3-0 earlier in the game, before Shearer scored what proved to be the winning goal eight minutes from time.
“A bloody mess, a shambles, me worse than anyone,” Keane says of Man United’s defeat.
“I grab the ball to take a throw-in. It’s injury-time, deep in our half. Shearer stops me from taking the throw-in. He’s taking the piss. I lose it, throw the fucking ball at him.
“‘You prick,’ he sneers. The way he says it, I know he really means it.
“I go for him, try to grab him by the throat. He’s grinning. ‘You prick.’ He gestures dismissively. The red card comes out. Shearer’s right. I am a prick. Fell into a trap.”
Keane goes on to write that this was one of his lowest points at Man United, and he considered leaving the club after it, feeling he had let his teammates and manager down.
Alex Ferguson, however, convinced him to carry on.
Keane also lamented that he was sent-off for a “push.”
“If you’re going to get sent off, the worst thing is, I pushed him.
“If you’re going to get sent off you might as well punch him properly because you’re going to get the same punishment.
“You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. That’s what I was thinking afterwards. It was just a push. It was ridiculous.”
Craig Bellamy’s account.
Meanwhile, in his autobiography, Craig Bellamy wrote about the incident.
“I was watching when Alan and Roy Keane clashed – the ball went out for a throw-in and Keane, who was wound up reacted to something Alan said and threw the ball at him,” Bellamy writes.
“It hit him on the back of the head and Alan complained to the referee. The referee sent Keane off and Keane went absolutely nuts. He looked like he wanted to rip Alan’s head off. It took about five of the United players to restrain him. I adored Keane.
“He was one of the best players I ever played against. I idolised him in fact, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go up against him in those circumstances.
“I saw him waiting for Alan in the tunnel at the end of the game and Alan didn’t seem to be hurrying off the pitch! He was one of the last to come off actually, which we all made sure we remarked on when he finally made it back to the dressing room.
“Keane had to be dragged into the United dressing room by then.”
Shearer: Keane and I get on well now.
Shearer, however, says that there is no bad blood whatsoever between him and Keane, and the pair now get on well.
“Roy was never an enemy, that’s definitely not the right word,” he writes in The Athletic.
“But when you want to win as much as we did, things would occasionally spill over. We’ve worked together on television over the years and there’s never been any problem.
“We’ve got on well. And what a competitor and player he was.”
(Originally published on February 26, 2021).