Roy Keane has lifted the lid on his fierce rivalry with Patrick Vieira, revealing details of the now legendary tunnel confrontation between the pair and confessing that the former Arsenal captain probably could have killed him if the situation had deteriorated even further.
Manchester United legend Keane and Vieira enjoyed a famously heated rivalry during their respective playing days, with the pair clashing on numerous occasions over the years as the driving midfield forces and inspirational leaders of their respective clubs.
The most memorable altercation, of course, came prior to a Premier League clash at Arsenal's former home Highbury in February 2005.
With Keane apparently believing that Vieira and his teammates were picking on Gary Neville as the teams waited to walk out onto the pitch, he leapt to the defence of his fellow Manchester United stalwart in typically aggressive fashion.
"As I walked to the front I heard something going on at the top of the tunnel," the former Republic of Ireland international says in quotes from his new autobiography - entitled 'The Second Half' - used by the Irish Independent.
"All I could see was a few fingers, pointing at Gary. I lost it. Five seconds earlier I'd been perfectly calm, in the zone, ready for the match. I'd thought they might have booted him out on the pitch. But in the tunnel? I just thought 'The f******'. They were trying to bully him. They were a big team and, in the tunnel, they were even bigger. So I said to myself 'Alright, let's go'."
A notoriously proud and determined individual who has presumably never backed down from a scrap in his life, even Keane had to admit that Vieira - a much taller and heavier player - would surely had won in the event that a fight broke out.
"If it had come to a fight, Patrick could probably have killed me," he added.
Thankfully, that particular dispute did not come to blows and Keane went onto play the full 90 minutes as Manchester United recorded a superb 4-2 victory on hostile enemy territory thanks to a brace from Cristiano Ronaldo and goals from Ryan Giggs and defender John O'Shea.
Such a win saw the Red Devils do the double over Arsenal and move up to second place in the table. Sir Alex Ferguson's side eventually finished six points adrift of the Gunners that season as Chelsea romped to the title for the first time in 50 years under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.
Keane eventually left Manchester United in 2005 after his relationship with Ferguson broke down following a controversial interview the player gave to MUTV after a woeful performance against Middlesbrough.
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