Roy Keane has released a second instalment of his autobiography, as you may well have noticed, and in this updated memoir the former Manchester United captain tears strips from some of the game’s most high-profile figures.
Sir Alex Ferguson, the Class of 92, Jose Mourinho - all of them have come in for criticism, some more stinging then others. But Keane’s book is not only about score settling and petty insults, there are also some touching anecdotes, including one about Eric Cantona.
Keane and Cantona spent four years together at Manchester United before the Frenchman’s early retirement and, although two strong and temperamental characters, enjoyed a decent relationship during this time at Old Trafford.
While Cantona was known to be colourful and volatile, he was also a man of great integrity and a figure that the rest of the Manchester United players looked up to, from the youngest members of the squad to the more senior pros.
This is something outlined by Keane in his book, which was released last week to much fanfare, with one story in particular highlighting just why Cantona was held in such high regard by his peers and manager.
“In my early years at United, there was a players’ pool and each of us would get about £800 out of it at the end of the season for the work we’d done for the in-house magazines, the club videos,” Keane writes.
“We were all on decent money and eight hundred quid wasn’t going to make or break us, so one time, we decided to put all the cheques into a hat and the last cheque out, whoever’s name was on it, got to keep all of the cheques.
“We all put our cheques in except a couple of the younger players – I think it was Becks and Gary and Phil (Neville).
“They opted out. They were new on the scene and didn’t have the money to spare, but Scholesy and Nicky Butt put their cheques in.
“I think I was the third last name out, so I got a run for my money, but the last cheque out – Eric Cantona. He’d won about sixteen grand.
“He came in the next day, there was plenty of banter – ‘Eric, you lucky b——!’ F—— money to money.
“But he had got somebody to cash the cheques, he’d split the money in two and he gave it to Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt because, he said, the two of them had the balls to go into it when they couldn’t really afford it. The two lads took home about eight grand each.
“I just thought, ‘what a gesture.’ Nobody else would have done it.”
It is a heartwarming tale about one of Manchester United’s most revered former players, who scored 82 goals in 150 appearances for the club after moving to Old Trafford from Leeds United a year after the Premier League’s inception.
He may have spent only five seasons with Manchester United, but he remains one of the most iconic players the Premier League has ever seen and, at his peak, enjoyed a profile and level of fame unlike any other in the division at that time.
There were, of course, the misdemeanours - most notably the inexplicable attack on a Crystal Palace fan that resulted in an eight-month suspension - but this unpredictability only adds to his enduring allure.
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