Roy Keane terrified many opponents during his glittering 12-year career with Manchester United.
The fiery Irishman wasn’t the most physically imposing midfielder in the Premier League. He wasn’t a 6ft 4in powerhouse of a man like his old rival Patrick Vieira, for example.
Nevertheless, Keane always seemed like the toughest player on the pitch. He’d fly into tackles, square up to opponents, scream at his teammates and, well, just generally scare everyone a bit.
But one opponent who didn’t appear to be intimidated by Keane was his old Republic of Ireland teammate Jason McAteer.
The relationship between the two midfielders was already frosty prior to Keane’s decision to walk out on the Ireland squad on the eve of the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan.
After that incident in the summer of 2002, their relationship broke down completely.
Roy Keane vs Jason McAteer
And when the two players went head-to-head during a Premier League clash between Sunderland and Man Utd at the Stadium of Light the following season, they inevitably clashed.
Keane had to be held back by referee Uriah Rennie and teammate David Beckham, who had a smile on his face during the altercation.
McAteer was seen mouthing “f*** off!” to Keane, who made a gesture towards his international colleague to keep talking.
McAteer then reacted by telling Keane to write it down in his next book, following the publication of his first autobiography in 2002.
Watch the clip here:
Keane was later sent off for a foul on McAteer.
Keane vs McAteer. Once again, Roy would have the final word. pic.twitter.com/TALO2Ztjg4
— CS22 (@CS22___) August 9, 2020
Jason McAteer: I wanted to hurt Roy Keane
Years later, in 2020, McAteer admitted that he would go into matches with the intention of hurting Keane.
“Sometimes you play against fellow (countrymen)… like Leeds I’d play against Ian Harte, I’d never think I’d want to smash him,” McAteer told the One Last Match podcast from Audio Frontier, per the Daily Mail.
“He was on the left, I was on the right, it was always a battle.
“But it was fair, we’d hug each other at the beginning and hug each other at the end.
“If there was any words said, which very rarely there wouldn’t be, we got on with it.
“With Roy, you’d want to smash him, you’d want to hurt him. You wouldn’t pick him up.
“You’d have words, you’d mean it, you wouldn’t shake his hand at the end of the game. It’s how it was.”
Have Roy Keane and Jason McAteer spoken since?
Several years earlier, McAteer revealed that Keane still holds a grudge against him.
“I couldn’t tell you the last time I spoke to him,” McAteer said at the launch of his autobiography, Blood, Sweat and McAteer, per Joe. “People ask me if I’d ever want to make up with Roy Keane but it’s not about that, my hand is open and always has been and I’m always there for a chat if he wants to engage. I was at Wembley for a cup final a couple of years ago and I held the door open for him.
“He was working for ITV and I’d been working in the next box but I’d finished. As I walked in I’ve gone through the door, looked behind me and spotted him and I held the door open for him but he’s just walked through it and straight past me without even acknowledging me. It was an opportunity for him to say hello but he didn’t want to know.
“I’m also an ambassador for the FAI so I’ve bumped into him in the lounges after games. He comes up and does a bit of speaking and on one occasion, about two or three games ago, he came off the stage after finishing and he had to walk past us on the table. He shook hands with Paul McGrath and Ray Houghton but he just blanked me and carried on walking. But listen, he’s got his own reasons.”
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