Roy Keane vs Patrick Vieira: The story of how Robert Pires started infamous tunnel bust-up

Was Robert Pires the man to blame?

Roy Keane versus Patrick Vieira really was a feud for the ages.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the two legendary midfielders fought some iconic battles against one another in Manchester United versus Arsenal matches.

Pretty much every single time they came face-to-face, things got a little bit heated and there would always be sprinklings of outrageous quality from both of them as well.

The most talked about clash between the pair came at Highbury in 2005, a match United went on to win 4-2 thanks to a game-turning brace from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Just before kick-off, Vieira and Keane had a huge bust-up in the tunnel. The pair could be heard shouting at each other in the corridor, with things threatening to get physical.

Pascal Cygan and Dennis Bergkamp attempted to calm down their captain as he came into view of the cameras, with Keane then emerging from the shadows and famously saying: “Let’s see you out there then.”

Video: Keane vs Vieira in the Highbury tunnel

The footage above is one of the most famous clips in the history of the Premier League.

But how did it all start? Well, Keane has always claimed that his anger was due to the fact that he believed Vieira was picking on Gary Neville.

However, it turns out that the commotion wasn’t started by Vieira. Instead, it was his French colleague Robert Pires who initially had a pop at Neville.

Did Pires cause Keane vs Vieira that in the tunnel?

Vieira and Pires with Arsenal

“Things started to get heated and I think it was because of me actually,” Pires previously said in an interview The Times.

“Gary Neville arrived and barged into me. I reacted in French because I was annoyed. It starts kicking off and at that point, Pat arrives. He said to him, ‘You speak too much, you. Shut up.’

“At that moment, Keane arrives. And he goes, ‘You talk too much as well. I’ll see you on the pitch.’ It was dicey between the two of them, tense. That for me was one of the best moments.

“Then you have the spectacular Thierry Henry goal at Highbury [in October 2000], where he receives the pass from Gilles Grimandi, flicks the ball up, pivots and boof. They were always crazy matches.”

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So, there you have it, Pires’ reaction to a barge from Neville was the catalyst for the iconic clash between two of the greatest players in history. Who knew, eh?

Keane and Vieira are far more friendly with one another these days and they even filmed a must-watch documentary together entitled ‘Best of Enemies’ back in 2013.

However, if Keane lands a job in Premier League management anytime soon, you can bet things would still get very fiesty on the touchline when his team played Vieira’s Crystal Palace team.

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