Manchester United had an “unspoken training rule” under Sir Alex Ferguson which was governed by Roy Keane.
Former Man United star Quinton Fortune has shed light on the intense training regiment undertaken by players during his spell at the Old Trafford club. The ex-defender joined the Red Devils in 1999 and left in 2006, meaning he was with the side at the very peak of their powers.
And the South African icon has revealed a lot of that was down to club captain Keane, who led United’s array of stars by example. That included an “unspoken rule” where players sometimes had to get to training two hours before it even started.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at the launch of their 5-A-Side Bet on Brighton v Man United, Fortune said: “He set the standards every single day in training. He had so much influence in the team, and if you dropped your standards, you would hear from him. He wasn’t just keeping an eye on whose standards were dropping, though, he was setting them himself.
“He could talk the talk and walk the walk; he was just relentless every day. I wish people could see how much this guy trained; he was unbelievable.”
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He went on to explain Keane’s influence, saying: “It was just an unspoken rule; you just picked it up from day one. You needed to be on your toes every day in training, because if you weren’t someone else would take your place. It was as simple as that.
“If training started at 10:15am, you’d be thinking ‘OK, I need to be in at 9, maybe even 8am’. You’d get in early, have your breakfast, do your stretches, be out on the pitch at 10am, ready for training.”
Fortune joined United in 1999 from Atletico Madrid for a £1.5million fee. He went on to make 76 league appearances for the Red Devils, but admits he had to fight for his place in the team by treating each training session as if it were his last.
He added: “You saw Gary and Phil Neville doing it, Cristiano [Ronaldo], Roy Keane, all these guys were doing it, so new players would just pick it up naturally.
“We would treat every training session like it was our last, and that became a habit for everyone at the club. You came in and just thought ‘is this normal?’ but match day would come around and it would be easy.”