Roy Keane: Man Utd legend led teammates out vs Wolves 2004 without ref’s permission

  • Rob Swan

What Manchester United fans would give to have a prime Roy Keane in their current squad.

Keane is unquestionably one of the greatest captains of the Premier League – if not *the* greatest – as well as a bonafide United legend.

He may have fallen out with Sir Alex Ferguson at the end of his hugely successful 12-year spell at Old Trafford – a rift that, sadly, remains in place today – but United supporters will forever be immensely grateful to both men for what they achieved together.

Ferguson had the best possible leader in Keane; a warrior who never accepted anything less than maximum effort from each and every one of his teammates.

Whether it was during a huge Champions League knockout match, a crunch Premier League fixture against a fierce rival, a pre-season friendly or even a run-of-the-mill training session, Keane helped to set the impeccable standards that made United such a formidable winning machine during the 1990s and early 2000s.


Every midfielder knew they were in for a relentlessly difficult 90 minutes when they saw Keane in the opposition line-up.

Similarly, many referees must have hated taking charge of games that the fiery Irishman was involved in.

“Remember the incident with Andy D’Urso when he screamed in his face? That attempt to bully the referee is what he was like,” former Premier League ref Mark Clattenburg said in 2020.

“I do think that came from Sir Alex Ferguson as well though. It was never about influencing the decision that had gone with Manchester United, it was always about applying more pressure ahead of the next one.

“You just couldn’t trust Roy either. You never knew if he was going to blow up or do something nasty, like the tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland. That was a disgrace, it was pre-meditated.”


Roy Keane leads Man Utd out without referee’s permission

January 17, 2022, marks the 18th anniversary of a moment that will always bring a smile to fans.

While this isn’t the most famous pre-match incident inside a tunnel that Keane was involved during his career (Patrick Vieira remembers the other very well…), it’s still absolute gold.

After waiting inside the tunnel at Molineux for opposition captain Paul Ince to take his place at the front of Wolves’ line-up, Keane decided enough was enough: it was time for him and his teammates to walk out onto the pitch – even though the referee hadn’t given permission.


The assistant ref looked shocked as Tim Howard, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes and the rest of United’s starters followed Keane.

Ince, a former United teammate of Keane’s, then strolled through behind Phil Neville with his shirt still off.

However, the former England international was prevented from leading his team out by the ref, much to his bemusement.


Video: Roy Keane leads Man Utd out without ref’s permission

Watch the brilliant clip here:

Let’s check out some of the best reaction:


Nobody could stop Roy Keane from going full Roy Keane – even Premier League match officials.

But… Man Utd suffered a 1-0 defeat that day

Unfortunately for Keane, he was unable to prevent United slumping to an embarrassing 1-0 defeat that afternoon.

Kenny Miller scored the only goal of the game for Wolves, who finished bottom of the Premier League table that season.


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