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Roy Keane: Quotes about the former Man United captain from his ex-teammates, managers & rivals

roy keane quotes

“He’d lead my team and inspire them.”

Roy Keane is one of the greatest midfielders of all time and one of the best footballers of his generation. Keane is almost famous for his quotes and his sharp tongue. He has also had a lot said about him, from former teammates, managers and rivals. Here is a selection of quotes about the Cork midfielder, who turns 50 today.

Quotes about Roy Keane.

David Beckham on Keane after the Irishman left Man United for Celtic in 2005.

“He is a player who will lead from the front and get a team going. He is also a player who will tell you when you have done something wrong and something right. You know where you stand with him, he’ll tell you in his own special way. I think he had one of the biggest impacts on a club anyone could have. The players responded to him in every game.

“I am shocked he has left because I thought he would be there for a few more years, but he has made his decision and everyone will respect that. People now have to look at what he has done with Manchester United because in the last 12 years he has won everything there is to win in club football. He has done it, gaining respect from so many players that he has played with and against.”

Laurent Blanc.

“I only played with him for two seasons at the end of my career, and he had some injuries, but I saw more than enough to appreciate his brilliance. He is one of the best players I have ever seen. Not only that, but he could motivate players too. He was the boss too. He is also a good man.”

Eric Cantona named Keane in his all-time XI alongside Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Diego Maradona.

“Do I need to say why? He was the best in midfield; he could play everywhere. He could play the holding role and be defensive, but then he could suddenly burst forward and score goals. He was so intelligent in how he played the game and let me tell you: it felt good to have him behind me for four seasons. He’d win the ball and then give it to me. And what a character! He’d lead my team and inspire them.”

Jamie Carragher.

“What image do you have of Roy Keane? A tough-tackling midfielder? I also rated him as one of the best passers of the ball in the game. No one emphasized that, but there weren’t many times I saw him give it away.”


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Quotes about Roy Keane.

Brian Clough.

“Keane’s a Jekyll and Hyde character. When he worked for me, he never used to say a word, but forced out a half smile whenever he saw me, because he knew I had his number. I rated him very highly as a player, but wouldn’t stand any nonsense.”

Danielle De Rossi.

“Keane is my absolute hero. In my opinion, the legendary Manchester United captain needs no introduction. He’s my all-time idol. The ’16′ on my shirt is, along with the birthday of my daughter Gaia, dedicated to him.

“He’s the only person in the world I asked for a photo with, two years ago. I was too embarrassed to ask [Diego] Maradona, but with Keane I couldn’t resist.”

Damien Duff on Keane at the 2002 World Cup.

“You could argue he was the best midfielder in the world at the time… People were in fear of Roy – not me, not Robbie, he looked after us, we were young, we were fearless. But even at Man United, people were in fear of him, maybe in a way, when he left, it let lads breathe.”

Eamon Dunphy speaking about Keane to OTB.

“He’s a very charming fella, when he wants to be charming, when he trusts you, he is very charming and very funny. I think there is two-sides to his character, obviously. There is a side to him that is cruel, harsh, illogical and still very passionate.”

Rio Ferdinand.

“I got the ball and passed to Gary [Neville], who was on my team. In a normal game that was a great ball – pass to your teammate, go up the pitch. And then Keane turned round and just started going,

“Pass the fucking ball forward, take risks, you’re not at Leeds or West Ham now, you’re at Manchester United!’

“I got home later that day and thought, ‘This guy is nuts, how am I going to deal with him on a daily basis?’

“And then I realised that you’ve got to take chances and that’s how I ended up playing my career. Not just passing the simple ball to Gary, but into the strikers to make a difference.”

Quotes about Roy Keane.

Alex Ferguson on Keane after the Juventus match in 1999.

“I didn’t think I could have a higher opinion of any footballer than I already had of the Irishman but he rose even further in my estimation at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The minute he was booked and out of the final, he seemed to redouble his efforts to get the team there. It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”

And on the incident which resulted in Keane leaving Man United in 2005.

“What I noticed about him that day as I was arguing with him was that his eyes started to narrow, almost to wee black beads. It was frightening to watch. And I’m from Glasgow.”

Darren Fletcher.

“His touch was immaculate, he had the best first touch. All these things were so underrated in his game. Everyone looked at him as this ferocious competitor and box-to-box runner and tackler. That wasn’t false, but, with the ball, he had one of the best first touches and the best pass forward into the attacking half to break the lines of the opposition that I’ve ever seen… Because Roy controlled the midfield, Scholesy was then the one who got forward and got goals and used his technique higher up the pitch.”

Steven Gerrard.

“Roy Keane is one of my favourite players. I really loved playing against him, I have nothing but respect for the guy and as a player.”

Ryan Giggs.

“You never felt you were beaten when Keaney was in your team. He never threw in the towel. I don’t think any of the rest of us were less determined to win than Keaney, but what makes him different is the way he gets it across, his anger if you like. More than any other player I’ve seen, he affects players around him.”

Danny Higginbottom on a Roy Keane team talk at Sunderland.

“It was bizarre at the time, but turned out to be a stroke of genius.

“‘Listen lads,” he said. ‘Basically, you’re shit. Try and enjoy the game. You’re probably going to get beat. But just enjoy being shit.’

“Then he just walked out. Those words have got to be insulting to any professional, no matter who they come from, and I’ll admit it served as the perfect motivation to get out there and prove him wrong. I scored after 10 minutes and we were leading at half-time. We ended up drawing.”

Denis Irwin.

“Roy Keane is the best player that I’ve ever played with.”

Denis Irwin

Diego Maradona speaking about Roy Keane after an Ireland v Spain match in 1993.

“He impressed me with everything he did – nobody could touch him that day. He is for the future.”

Jason McAteer

“We weren’t mates initially. We had difference in opinions early on – we were young. We were a little bit immature, the pair of us, with things we did.

“Then we got a older, wiser and more experienced and we realised that there was a tribalism between Liverpool and Man United. I think we had to dislike each other because of that so we did.”

Mick McCarthy.

“We have a bit of a competition in our house that anybody who mentions Saipan or the other fella (Keane) any day wins the ‘D*** of the Day Award.’

“Whether it’s said to me or said to any of my family. They’ll say, ‘Oh dad, I had the D*** of the Day today, somebody mentioned it.”

Gary Neville speaking about Keane in 2018.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, the most inspirational football player that I played with. He wasn’t only the best player on the pitch most weeks… But just the influence he had in terms of his standards, the fact that he made everyone else feel 10-foot tall, the fact that he demanded from you all the time.

“He was almost like Sir Alex Ferguson out on the training pitch and in the changing room. There was never any drop in standard from Roy.
Roy had the complete control of the changing room… He was the dominant figure, he was the best player, he was the most influential. You could argue he was the best defender in the team, you could argue he was the best attacker in the team, one of the best passers in the team, he ran the most. So, at all the facets of the game (he was) just the ideal captain.”

Phil Neville.

“He used to always say, ‘If you’re ever in trouble, even if I’ve got men around me, just give me the ball and I’ll get you out of trouble.'”

“Do you know what? I think he had a soft spot for me. Every time I see him now I think, ‘He has a little bit of a soft spot for me.”

“He actually turned up to my wedding – and he would never turn up to anyone else’s wedding. He turned up to mine and had a good time. And his kids went to school with my kids.

“I think because he hated Gary so much – he used to fight with Gary every day – he saw me as the nice one.”

Stuart Pearce.

“I look at Roy Keane, at his good points, and think, if I had someone in my team with that heart, I’d be delighted.”

Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I realised that I was good at Manchester United, when I played with players like Giggs, Keane or Ferdinand. I had talent. The English mentality is different and those people helped me a lot to be what I am now. I have to thank my colleagues in Manchester… (Keane was) always screaming to me: ‘Cristiano! Pass the ball!’ But it was good! At the end of the day, I feel happy because I learned a lot from them”

Wayne Rooney.

“I knew he knew he was a great footballer but until I played with him I didn’t realise how great. His passing was probably the best I’ve played with, in terms of getting it in to the forwards’ feet. I had associated him with someone who got round the pitch, making tackles, but it was his passing that blew me away.”

Paul Scholes.

“Roy was unbelievable to play alongside and someone you could always trust. I soon learned that if you weren’t on your game he would be on top of you to make sure you were playing your part for the team. I had a few bollockings from him, but that made you work harder to avoid them. He was a great leader and captain: he drove us on and he was our manager on the pitch.”

Alan Shearer.

The sign of a great captain is when your team is in trouble, you’ve got 70,000 or 80,000 fans looking at you, you’ve got millions all around the world looking at you.

“Probably more importantly, you’ve got your teammates and your manager looking at you to do something to get us out of trouble.”

“Whether that be a tackle, a pass or a goal, whatever that may be and that’s what great captains do – and that’s what Roy Keane was.

“He was a great leader and he led his team to so many victories, to so many trophies and he epitomised everything great about Man United at that time.”

Alan Shearer Roy Keane

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“If I could pick one player in my team, I would always pick Roy Keane, in front of any other players I’ve played with. Keano had everything; he was a leader, a great player, and probably the best I ever played with.”

Jaap Stam.

“I played with him at United for a bit over three seasons, and we won a lot of trophies together. He’s the type of player who pushes everybody and keeps everybody sharp. He played very simple, and it looked very easy when you watch him play, but he was so important for the team. Every team needs a player like Keane, someone who can control the game and dominate the tempo. Tactically and positionally he always got it right and is very good in one-on-one duels.”

Patrick Vieira.

“We had similar qualities as players. We were both determined, we wanted to win, and we were both leaders of our teams. That’s why I always loved to play against him, despite the rivalry, there has always been respect between us. We challenged ourselves, we battled, but we always retained respect for each other.”

Roy Keane Patrick Vieira

Arsene Wenger.

“Roy Keane was an exceptional football player but he was always, as well, on the fringe of violence. I don’t know what kind of player he was in the dressing-room but to me, on the outside, he looked like a guy who controlled the team.”

Dwight Yorke.

“I think Keano is his own worst enemy. After the years I’ve spent with him, some of the things he has done, I’m sure he will regret. Keano will live by the sword and die by the sword, but I’m sure there are things that he reflects he could have done better as manager.”

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