When BBC Sport asked football fans to rank the best captains in Premier League history, it wasn’t a shock to see Roy Keane in first place.
The Manchester United legend was a magnificent skipper for the Red Devils.
During his 12-year stint at Old Trafford, Keane helped United win seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League.
The Irishman, alongside Sir Alex Ferguson, ensured that standards never slipped. Maximum effort was required from all players in every match and training session.
If Keane felt that a player wasn’t pulling their weight, he’d come down on them like a ton of bricks.
Despite being a hard taskmaster, Keane was a hugely respected member of the United dressing room.
The players knew he had their back.
When Patrick Vieira started on Gary Neville in the tunnel ahead of the epic Premier League clash between Arsenal and United at Highbury in February 2005, it was Keane who stepped in.
Fuming with Vieira, Keane threatened the Frenchman with the immortal words: “I’ll f***ing see you out there you c***, I’ll see you out there.”
Referee Graham Poll tried to defuse the situation and was told by Keane: “Think he can pick on Gary Neville, pick on one of us.”
United went on to win the match 4-2 thanks to goals from Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and John O’Shea.
But it was Keane who produced a Man of the Match performance – and his post-match interview from that unforgettable night has emerged on social media.
Speaking to Geoff Shreeves, Keane – still looking fired up – explained what happened in the tunnel.
He said: “I don’t want to go into too much detail but Patrick is six-foot-four… he says something about Gary Neville. I said ‘come and have a go at me’ – simple as that.
“If players want to intimidate some of my teammates, then let’s have a go at some of the other players.
“They think Gary Neville’s an easy target. I weren’t having it.”
What a captain.
Watch the brilliant clip here…
Asked whether United had won the match by playing attractive football, Keane added: “I think so, especially in the second half – even when we were down to 10 men. We kept the ball moving and I think if Mikael (Silvestre) hadn’t been sent off we could have scored a few more.
“You’ve got to win tackles, it’s a physical game. I think fans enjoy that as much as scoring.
“So, you know, if teams are going to give it out they’ve got to accept it.”
Let’s check out some of the reaction from fans…
They don’t make captains like Keano anymore.
GIVEMESPORT’s Rob Swan says…
Keane was an exceptional captain who United have never truly replaced since he left Old Trafford following a bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson in November 2005.
Neville was Keane’s successor but lacked the same fear factor as his predecessor.
Nemanja Vidic was then appointed captain in 2011 and had the fear factor with opposition strikers, but not his teammates.
Since then, Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Harry Maguire have all worn the armband but none of them have been able to inspire the Red Devils like Keane did.
Times have changed, though, and you won’t find many figures like Keane in the game these days.
He was a true one-off and will always occupy a special place in the hearts of United supporters.
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