Roy Keane Interview with Tommie Gorman of RTE Television
This Interview First Appeared on RTE Television on 27 May 2002
Venue : Moat House Hotel, Manchester
Tommie Gorman: I want you to put in context the reasons for your row. Was it bad blood between you and Mick McCarthy, was it something deeper or was it because you were unhappy with the preparations of the Irish team for the World Cup and you always strive for perfection.
Roy Keane: There were a lot of things. A lot's been said over the last few days but I'm not here to get anybody on my side. I think it's important that people know the truth. The final straw was when I was accused of being disloyal, faking injury and going against my team-mates, in front of everybody, and I wouldn't accept it. I still don't accept that.
Tommie Gorman: That was the final straw but what happened before that because the impression we have was of someone who had flown over there, was looking to train hard and who was preparing for the World Cup, was looking forward to doing well at the World Cup and just felt that the training wasn't going well.
Is that the case?
Roy Keane: Yeah, well, from day one when we got over there ... Okay the travelling was long but you accept these things, don't get me wrong. The first night we got there, there was an evening meal and Mick got Martin, the doctor, to speak - about being careful of the sun, sunblock, of course and what drinks to drink. And when he was talking about the drinks to take he said: 'They're not here yet.' And he continued and I was thinking, 'they're not here yet?' Then Mick came back in and said the training kit hadn't arrived
and the training pitch wasn't as good as he had thought. And as soon Mick said that I thought 'it must be bad'. There were no balls, of course and he felt DHL had let him down; they should have been there on the Thursday or the Friday and I think this was on the Saturday or the Sunday evening when we got there and I couldn't believe it. That's not being a primadonna, that's not being pig-headed, it's just being honest. We're preparing for the World Cup finals and I was disappointed straight away with that. I remember as I walked outside with a few of the players there was a bit of a laugh and a joke about it but when I got to my room I couldn't understand it, I couldn't.
So I went to Mick McCarthy's room that night, about half an hour later that and I asked him. I said: 'Mick, what's going on, I can't believe it.' He said: 'Roy, you know, the skips should have been here last Friday.' But I said: 'They should have been here two weeks ago, so there wouldn't have been any doubt.' And I said the training pitch must be bad if you say it's bad and he said: 'Oh well, somebody let me down, they said there was going to be a decent training pitch.' And I asked him: 'You trusted someone to guarantee you a decent training pitch and there's not even a football pitch on the island?' I said: 'I'm disappointed with it,' and I left it at that. And he understood my feelings because I had the same problems a few years ago after a couple of years when Mick was the manager and I was disappointed with certain things. I arranged to meet Mick and he came to my house and we discussed these things and he agreed with me that we needed to improve in all aspects; whether they be travelling arrangements, the training pitch, everything. And this was the first day we got there and I thought if this is the way things are going to go then what chance have we got?
The next day we were ready to go training but there was no point in bringing any boots because there were no footballs. There was no training kit, we had to wear the casual gear we were wearing around the hotel. I went off for a stretch in the physio's room and even some of the medical gear wasn't there. Some of the lads couldn't have strappings. And again a lot of it was a laugh and a joke; it's quite funny sometimes. The lads had no strappings and Jason McAteer was saying they could use toilet roll. And I was laughing as well but deep down I thought: 'This is not right.' I was fuming to be honest. And of course when we went training and we got to the training pitch and the pitch was a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. And if anybody who's been there and says any different they're just not in the real world. And even after training I was talking to one of the liaison officers who was looking after the team and I said to him: 'Will they be able, maybe, to water the pitch for tomorrow?' And he said: 'Oh probably but to be fair we weren't expecting you today.' I said: 'You must have known we were coming.' And he said: 'Oh no, nobody told us you were coming down.' That was the start of it and I thought: 'Here we go.'
Tommie Gorman: But did you have support for that kind of approach from the other players, because they're also professional footballers looking to do well in the World Cup.
Roy Keane: They were all saying the same thing, all the players. You're captain for a reason. I made a point to Mick the first night and I said: 'It's not good enough, Mick.' The players were - it's a bit of a laugh and a joke and I accept that. But when we got there it was so dangerous and I said when we got there 'there's going to be injuries' and of course, three days later there were three injuries and it didn't surprise me one bit.
Tommie Gorman: You threatened to leave, you wanted to come home, that was sorted out. And then you had this bust-up. And you were obviously very angry that you had this bust-up, in public as it were, in front of the other squad members.
Roy Keane: Without a doubt. On the Tuesday after I told Mick I was leaving for personal reasons because I didn't really want to tell him I'd had enough of playing for him. I really had. Because when we trained on the Tuesday again - anyway, that's the tip of the iceberg - I said I needed to go home. Again that was supposed to have been a private conversation. We spoke to Eddie Coughlan who was going to organise the flights and they promised it wouldn't go beyond the three of us. But an hour or two later I met Alan Kelly and he said: 'You're going home.' But to be fair during the night things were sorted out on that front. Mick was disappointed because he felt I'd put him in an awkward position and to be fair he had rang Colin Healy. I said to him I was sorry about that. I felt bad for Colin and I said to Mick 'look, I'll go home'. And those were my last words to Mick. I said 'leave it, don't ring him back'.
Then the first thing in the morning Mick Byrne came to see me and he said 'you've got three minutes to make up your mind'. So I said I would stay. I think Mick was put under pressure from the FAI. I was speaking to my solicitor and I spoke to Alex Ferguson during the night and they told me to stick it out. So from there on I felt Mick was disappointed. I felt entitled to change my mind and I did an hour later to try and give Mick the chance but he said he'd already spoken to Colin Healy on his mobile at 8.30 in the morning. I said to him: 'By your body language you don't really want me here.' And he said: 'You've put me in an awkward position here, I wish you'd have thought it all out.' And I went: 'I feel quite embarrassed by it all anyway and I've decided to stick it out.' He left my room and I followed him down and knocked on the door and Mick Byrne answered the door. And I said to Mick: 'Leave it, I'm going home.' And that was when the next morning Mick Byrne came and said I had three minutes to make my mind up. So that was that.
On the Monday we got over there I had promised Tom Humphries and Paul Kimmage - two reporters who I would have some sort of respect for - that I would speak to them on the Wednesday. I wasn't due to do a press conference with all the other press until the Friday but I told these two I would do it. Of course, on the Wednesday I told them all my disappointments and then Thursday morning Tom Humphries rang me at about 6.30, 7.00 in the morning. But I was awake anyway, we were all waking up quite early. He said he would like to go through the piece with me because it was going to print in a few hours. So I said 'okay' and I met him downstairs at about 8am and I said it was fine, no problems, and it went to print in the (Irish) Times on Thursday morning. Then Thursday afternoon, the storm clouds were gathering, I just knew it. No-one had spoken to me. Even Mick Byrne, who I've been very close to in the Irish squad, had it in his body language. And I said 'look Mick I understand, you have to be loyal to Mick (McCarthy)'. He said: 'I've known you a long time - but I said you need stick with Mick.' I went for my meal at 6.30 and I was told there was a meeting at 7.30 and I knew what it was all about, I knew."
Tommie Gorman: But do you see from Mick McCarthy's point of view that this was a challenge to him. You were the team captain, he was the manager and here was this article in the paper - okay maybe he made a mistake by bringing it into public but.
Roy Keane: The article in the paper was fine. If anybody reads it, it's fine.
Tommie Gorman: You don't think it might have undermined the morale of the other players?
Roy Keane: It was fine, it's fine, anybody who read the piece ... I questioned the training facilities, which I'd said to Mick. And that was about it.
Tommie Gorman: That was your view and you had your discussion with him, you had this angry exchange.
Roy Keane: It was more than an angry exchange. There was the meeting at 7.30 and I knew what it was about. He had a piece of paper in his hand and I knew it was the interview. He went on to say some people are disappointed and I'm sitting there thinking 'Roy, just stay calm' because I'd said I'd stick it out and I knew the next day we were going to a different place and better training facilities. Players had spoken to me, all the players, I'd spoken to Steve Finnan before that and I said to him during the meal 'how's your ankle' and he said: 'Lucky I was walking, if I was running I would have broken it, no doubts about it.' And the other players had said to me they'd not done enough training, because a few of them play in the First Division, which finished four or five weeks ago, and two players off the top of my head said to me 'we've not done enough in four weeks'.
I know we went over there for a relaxing trip, I appreciate that. I've had more nights out than anybody and that's great. A few of the lads were telling me some of the stories. I don't mind that, players need to let off a bit of steam, I accept that. But on other hand if you're going over to work then let's work for that one hour a day. That's not asking too much. There's all sorts going on saying I gave people hell. I don't give people hell, I tell the truth and they think it's hell. It's as straightforward as that. At the meeting Mick started on about how some people weren't happy with certain things. 'I picked this land', he was talking about, 'I picked the training pitch' and I interrupted him and said 'Mick, we should have done this in private like we did the other night, just get to the point'. He said 'okay, you're not happy with certain things and I said I told you that I'm not happy with certain things'.
© RTE Television 2002
Soccer-Ireland.Com thanks RTE Television for permission to reproduce this interview here
Continued on Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2 & Roy Keane RTE Interview 3
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