Matt Holland has addressed Roy Keane’s story about him singing the English national anthem at Wembley.
In his second autobiography, Keane spoke about national identity and British-born of Irish descent players representing the Republic of Ireland. Holland played 49 times for Ireland and scored for the country at the 2002 World Cup. However, according to Keane, Holland was “as English as David Beckham.”
The former Manchester United captain referred to a time when he and other Ireland players saw Holland sing “God Save the Queen” at Wembley stadium – ahead of a Championship playoff final in 2000. The midfielder, who was born in Bury, was playing for Ipswich Town at the time.
“Love of a country is a hard thing to measure,” Keane said.
“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.
“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’.”
“If they want to come on board and they qualify, then great, as long as they’ve a feel for it." https://t.co/cQNdsVNjc2
— Pundit Arena (@PunditArena) May 19, 2020
In a Reddit AMA thread earlier this week, Holland answered a range of questions about his career. Inevitably, the former Ireland midfielder was asked a question about the time he was, according to Damien Duff, “caught rapid” singing the English national anthem at Wembley.
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,” he wrote.
“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. It doesn’t appear that he has any issue with Keane over publicising the story, however.
In the Reddit question and answer session, Holland went on to say that Keane was the best footballer he played alongside.