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Match of the Day Pundits Disagree On Roy Keane Ranking In Premier League List

gary lineker roy keane

Gary Lineker disagreed with Roy Keane’s ranking as the best European import in Premier League history.

On a Match of the Day podcast, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright both rated Keane as the best European import to the English top-flight since 1992, ahead of French forward Thierry Henry.

However, Lineker reckoned that the former Manchester United midfielder was rated too highly, as he was not as gifted a footballer as Henry or other players on the list, which included footballers such as Cristiano Ronaldo, David Silva and Eden Hazard.

Gary Lineker Roy Keane

The former England captain said he regarded Keane as one of the best captains in Premier League history. But questioned his ability as a footballer when compared to players such as Henry. Lineker was seemingly oblivious to Keane’s exceptional passing ability and ability to control games.

The Irishman was the key player during Man United’s glory years, helping them win seven league titles, four FA Cups, the Champions League and the Treble in 1999.

However, to their credit, Shearer, and particularly Wright, argued strongly in favour of Keane’s place at the top of the list.

Gary Lineker Roy Keane

Roy Keane ranked ahead of Thierry Henry on MOTD list

“Only someone like Roy Keane could beat Thierry,” Wright said on the show.

“Thierry, from 2001 to 2006, jeez. Unplayable. Dominated. He was amazing. And with the assists as well. He was the Michael Jordan of football at the time.”

However, Lineker wasn’t convinced. He argued that Keane, while a brilliant footballer, “wasn’t a gifted” player.

Gary Lineker Roy Keane

“This is actually why I, on this particular occasion, would disagree with both of you in terms of my number one. For me, number one, Roy Keane as a captain I could perfectly understand.

“But as a footballer and as an influence on our game, as an import, I dunno. Obviously he was a top player, but he wasn’t a gifted, joyous individual that you could enjoy, you know? He was a winner and a warrior, but for me, there are so many better players in this list.”

Gary Lineker Roy Keane

Lineker unconvinced by Keane ranking

Wright: “I totally, totally understand what you’re saying. But I think that when you’re looking at Thierry as a footballer he’s beautiful to watch. He’s magnificent, he was expressive, it was wonderful.

“But you talk about Roy Keane: as a tenacious midfielder, he had it. As a footballing midfielder, he had it. Stamina, he had it. Early days especially, he scored goals.”

Shearer chimed in and said it was Keane’s “attitude” that separated him from his peers. Wright agreed.

Wright: “Attitude. Everything. Thierry is better than most players in the whole world. But the fact is if we’re going to talk about what Roy Keane’s done in the Premier League, what Thierry’s done and the individual kind of impact that they both had… Roy Keane ushered through the (Class of) ’92, and kept world-class players, great players focused on what they were doing.”

“He wasn’t a particularly creative footballer…”

Lineker: “I totally agree with you. Totally agree with all that, Ian. But what I’m saying is, as a footballer, as a leader, yes, categorically. He was a captain, he was a leader, he was a warrior. But, you know, 39 goals, 33 assists in 366 games, it’s pretty good. But he wasn’t a particularly creative footballer. He was an aggressive footballer, he was up and down, as you say, he could pass it, he could keep it. But he wasn’t Paul Scholes.

Wright: “That’s so disrespectful.”

Lineker: “But he played in brilliant sides. Absolutely brilliant sides.”

Wright: “And he was leading those brilliant sides. He was the one leading them to brilliance.”

gary lineker roy keane

“I think Roy Keane is the best foreign import that we’ve had…”

Lineker: “I agree, he was the leader and that’s why he was number one in our captains list. But this is a different category. For me, football is about bringing joy. And lots of these players brought joy. I’m not sure Roy Keane – I totally respect him, I think he was an unbelievable player and he would have been up there in my top two captains – but as footballers?”

Wright: “You know something, without a shadow of a doubt I don’t think you can question, looking at Thierry as a footballer and thinking it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. But we are talking about the best foreign imports, and as much as Thierry as a footballer probably would be the best footballer, I think Roy Keane is the best foreign import that we’ve had.”

Shearer agreed with Wright and Lineker agreed to disagree.

gary lineker roy keane

Here the Match of the Day list of top 10 European imports in full:

  1. Roy Keane
  2. Thierry Henry
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo
  4. Eric Cantona
  5. Patrick Vieira
  6. Dennis Bergkamp
  7. Vincent Kompany
  8. David Silva
  9. Eden Hazard
  10. N’Golo Kante

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