Man Utd: Roy Keane's list of five world-class teammates includes Scholes & Giggs

Roy Keane was key to Manchester United’s dominance over English football in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Irishman was an absolute warrior in midfield throughout his career and on top of that, he was a genuinely world-class footballer.

Keane possessed a first touch better than most, was a brilliant tackler, could dictate the tempo of games and even chipped in with crucial goals.

What more could you want from a midfielder?

If you were asked to name the genuinely world-class players from Sir Alex Ferguson’s long reign as United manager, Keane would simply have to be one of them.

But which others would feature? Well, opinions on that matter will differ greatly, especially as there’s so many top-quality players to pick from.

Keane actually gave his answers to the tough question when he was a guest on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football back in 2019.

After watching United and Arsenal play out a rather dull 1-1 draw, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher asked him: “In the years you played at Manchester United, who would you say were the world-class players? Where’s your bar on world class?”

Keane responded: “Well, we never gave ourselves an opportunity to talk about players being world class. I felt that if we ever went down that road we would be getting ahead of ourselves.”

He then named the five former teammates who are ‘genuinely world-class’ in his opinion, with Peter Schmeichel, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo all missing out.

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1. Ryan Giggs

Keane continued:

“If I look back now, you’d have to class Giggsy. I always class the world-class players as lads who were doing it for nine, 10, 11 [years] – obviously Giggsy’s done it for a lot longer. To me, that’s the key to being a really good player: you’ve got to be consistent.

“We see players now, they’ve having a good month and patting themselves on the back. You have to be good for years and years, and Giggsy would have been a prime example.”

Ryan Giggs with Man Utd
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 26: Ryan Giggs of Manchester United celebrates his goal against Bolton Wanderers during the Barclays Premiership match between Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford on December 26, 2004 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

2. Mark Hughes

“Listen, Mark Hughes was a brilliant striker.”

Mark Hughes with Man Utd
Mark Hughes, Manchester United forward and Welsh international, during a league game against Queen’s Park Rangers at Old Trafford, 12th October 1985. QPR lost 2-0. (Photo by Mike King/Getty Images)

3. Eric Cantona

“Eric [Cantona] was a brilliant player. I know people say ‘Eric didn’t do it on this stage and that stage – the international stage… but a brilliant player to play with.”

Eric Cantona with Man Utd
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 03: Manchester United player Eric Cantona lifts the FA Premier League trophy as United celebrate being the first winners of the FA Premier League for the season 1992/93 after the game against Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford on May 3, 1993 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

4. Paul Scholes

“Scholsey was brilliant.”

Paul Scholes with Man Utd
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 22: Paul Scholes of Manchester United celebrates as he scores their first goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage on August 22, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

5. Denis Irwin

“Denis Irwin… My god, imagine if Denis Irwin was playing now. He could play left-back, right-back, get you a goal, knew how to defend, never injured, a brilliant guy in the dressing room. Denis would be world-class to me – and he’s a Corkman!”

Denis Irwin with Man Utd
Irish footballer Denis Irwin playing for Manchester United against West Ham, in an English Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester, 23rd August 1995. Manchester United won the match 2-1. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Not a bad list that.

Rooney and Ronaldo’s omissions in particular may surprise a few, but you have to remember that Keane barely played with either of the duo.

The Irish icon acrimoniously left United in November of 2005, just over two years after Ronaldo joined and around 13 months after Rooney arrived from Everton as a teenager.

Schmeichel not featuring on Keane’s list is arguably the biggest shock of the lot, given that the Dane is widely regarded as the Premier League’s greatest ever goalkeeper.

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