Roy Keane: Former Man Utd captain's teammates came up with 'trick' to avoid him

Roy Keane: Former Man Utd captain's teammates came up with 'trick' to avoid him

Manchester United legend Roy Keane had a fearsome reputation during his career as both a player and a manager – and hasn’t mellowed much since moving into punditry. 

Captain of the Red Devils from 1997 until leaving for Celtic in 2005, the Irishman’s no-nonsense style not only intimidated opponents but also left some of his United colleagues keen to give him a wide berth.

The Old Trafford dressing room was famously well-regimented under the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson, with the ferocious Scotsman famous for giving his ‘hairdryer’ treatment to stars who failed to toe the line.

As Sir Alex’s skipper, Keane took it upon himself to play the role of enforcer at all times – and would even lay into his United teammates during training.

During a November 2020 appearance on the Undr The Cosh podcast, former United goalkeeper Luke Steele was asked to give his thoughts on Keane – and was directly quizzed on whether he was scared of the midfielder during his time at the Theatre of Dreams.

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“I wouldn’t say I’m scared of him now, but I will say that he’s one of the most influential people I’ve ever been around – and I’ve met Nelson Mandela!” Steele said.

Steele, who also represented Coventry, Barnsley and Bristol City (among others) during his career, went on to explain that the more senior goalkeepers at United would often go out of their way to avoid playing on Keane’s team during training matches – so they would swerve a tongue-lashing from the Irishman if things didn’t go to plan. 



“This actually sticks out in my mind. When I was number three, there was me, Tim Howard and Edwin van der Sar,” Steele began, per the Daily Star.

“Tony Coton – the goalkeeping coach – when we went over to do the games, he said to me one day: ‘Have you ever noticed that you’re always on Roy Keane’s side?’.

“And I was like oh not really.

“And he said ‘yeah because the other two are s*** scared, so they always choose the other team’, van der Sar and Tim Howard.

“And it’s true, you don’t want to be on his side, you’d rather be playing against him because you know you’re not going to get a b*******ing from him.

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“So there was me, getting b*******ings all over, like every time I played but big grown international, Champions League winners were like that. 

“He had that effect on people.”

As Steele – who served as a back-up shot-stopper for United between 2002 and 2006 – points out both Van der Sar and Howard were full internationals. Van der Sar, in particular, was a seasoned veteran, having spent time at both Juventus and Ajax (where he won the 1995 Champions League) before joining United.

For such a decorated player to be hesitant about dealing with Keane is telling. Most will likely keep quiet about it, but we’d wager there were many down the years at Old Trafford who went to great lengths to avoid upsetting the seven-time Premier League winner.

Sam Allardyce on Newcastle, Conte and more (Football Terrace)

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