Former Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given has opened up on the row between teammate Roy Keane and manager Mick McCarthy that threatened to derail their 2002 World Cup campaign.
Keane was sent home by McCarthy from the team’s training base in Sapian just days before the tournament began, as a row about facilities escalated into something much deeper and far more personal than either man had intended to go with it.
In his new autobiography Any Given Saturday, Given recalls the incident from the other players’ perspective, and conveys the stunned silence that followed Keane’s infamous tirade:
“Roy is up for this, he’s out of his seat and he’s into Mick. A minute ago I was laughing, singing along to the band. I’m now slunk in my chair, in complete and utter shock. Roy is going personal, Roy is going heavy and it feels like Roy is going too far.
“’Why the fuck are you asking me a question? Who the fuck are you? You were a shit player and you’re a worse manager. You’re a wanker as a man, you’re a wanker as a manager and you shouldn’t be managing my country. Fuck you, and you can fucking stick your World Cup.’
“Mick edges in a word here and there, asking why Roy had not played in the second play-off leg with Iran, and that makes it worse.
“He implies that Roy was fit to play and he has let his country down.
“For about eight or nine minutes Roy keeps it up, slating every last thing he doesn’t like about Mick, the Ireland set-up, our preparations for the tournament, the delay in the delivery of our training gear, the state of the practice pitch, our professionalism as a squad — everything he can think of.
“By the end, he’s not even raging any more. It’s just a total destruction of Mick, personally and professionally.’
“I’ve never felt collective shock like it. Twenty five blokes, mute, stunned, tongues cut out, heads scrambled, minds blown.”
Ireland, minus their captain, went on to reach the last sixteen of the World Cup and were ultimately eliminated by Spain on penalties. McCarthy left his role as manager after the Boys in Green lost their first two Euro 2004 qualifiers, and Keane briefly returned to the international setup under McCarthy’s replacement Brian Kerr.