It’s hard to envisage the type of character that would put fear into Roy Keane, but it appears Kenny Dalglish had just that effect following Keane’s snub of Dalglish when he had a change of heart over a proposed move to Blackburn Rovers in 1993.
Having arrived in England under the tutelage of Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest in 1990 from Irish club Cobh Ramblers, the midfielder at the time was on the cusp of becoming a Blackburn Rovers player.
Speaking to Liam Beckett in Craigavon, as part of a fundraising event for Pat McGibbon, a former Manchester player himself (via the Liverpool Echo), Keane explained the back story to his rational fear of coming face-to-face with Dalglish whilst on holiday in Cyprus.
“I spoke to Blackburn. United hadn’t come in for me at that stage. I was 21 or 22 at the time,” Keane said.
“I met Kenny Dalglish, agreed a contract with them and a pay rise. I thought Blackburn were going places with Dalglish.
“They had got Alan Shearer in and I agreed a deal on a Friday night. On the Friday they said would I come back on the Monday when the offices were open again and I said yes.
“It was the end of the season so I went back to Cork for a few days and on Sunday morning I woke up and got a phone call from Alex Ferguson asking to go and meet him.
“I met Brian Kidd and Alex Ferguson, played a game of snooker with them and had the usual small talk, they told me how great I was and I believed them. I decided I wanted to go to United. In the meantime Kenny Dalglish phoned up and I said I had agreed to go to United and he was fuming.
“I said to him I was going to Cyprus on holiday with a few mates and when I came back I was going to sign for United and he said I’m going to find you. Every bar in Ayia Napa I was looking over my shoulder expecting to see Kenny Dalglish!”
Keane would go on to spend twelve years at Old Trafford, before ending his career by fulfilling a long held ambition of playing for Celtic. His path into management saw mixed success at Sunderland before an unproductive stint with Ipswich.
He has served as assistant to Martin O’Neill in the Republic of Ireland set-up since 2013, having interspersed it with a spell as assistant to Paul Lambert at Aston Villa before the dual role took its toll and he decided to focus on the Irish set-up.
Keane has not hidden his intentions to return to club management, however. But his immediate focus will be on helping Ireland in their quest for success at the Euros in France this coming summer.
Brian Strahan, Pundit Arena