Tommie Gorman & Roy Keane Interview - RTE Television Continued from Tommy Gorman / Roy Keane Interview 2
This Interview First Appeared on RTE Television on 27 May 2002
Venue : Moat House Hotel, Manchester
Tommie Gorman: There's this very soft side to you, I saw your kids waiting at the window for you and they were delighted to see you home. What about all the little kids in Ireland who have you as a role model, who love you, who'd love to see you back in the World Cup and who are absolutely appalled that this row has taken place and don't know what to say?
Roy Keane: Exactly, do you think I've enjoyed the last few days? It's been hard, of course it has. I'd love to play in the World cup. It was fantastic eight long years ago and I've done no more, no less than the other lads in the squad to get us back. I would love to play, course I would.
Tommie Gorman: And everyone in the country, from the Taoiseach down, would love to see this resolved. You know there are 13, 14 year-olds who tell their parents I don't want to play football any more I'm depressed. Kids who wear your name on their jerseys, who are absolutely haunted, who don't know what to make of it.
Roy Keane: That will pass, people have to get on with their lives you know. It's a football tournament. My loyalty was questioned, I was called a liar in front of a group of people and then there was more. As I said I didn't realise there was a press conference held within half an hour, maybe less (of the meeting). I know about the kids in Ireland, of course I do, I feel bad for them myself. I want to go back to Ireland, I've got my family over there. But I had to stand up for what I believe in. I live and die by my actions and I will continue to do so. I tell my kids what's right and wrong but what happened to me was wrong.
Tommie Gorman: But you are an Irishman. You know the country we live in. You know in the north they've been at each others throats for years and years. They've made compromises, shaken hands and here we have our football team, riven by division, destroyed by division. Is there no way Mick McCarthy and the Irish footballers can get together and show people that they can do the same? Or is that alien to you guys?
Roy Keane: It's not. As I said, since I got back home the other day, if for one second I thought, 'Roy, maybe, just maybe, you were a little bit out of order, or maybe there's a way back,' I'd be back on that flight. No doubts about that. But I went to my room and we had three players in a press conference within half an hour of it (the meeting) saying they were behind Mick when we'd all spoken about it. People talk about them as role models. They're cowards.
Tommie Gorman: In football the guy who pulls out of a tackle, the guy who compromises is seen as weak. But in life, sometimes it's the guy who compromises who gains strength from that.
Roy Keane: I agree with you 100% . Life's too short. But if I went back I couldn't give 100%. Under what circumstances? Players turning round and saying they've never heard anything like that in their lives. I expect them to stick together, it's a squad and they're all backing Mick. But that's not what they said when they spoke to me. They had their chance to speak up but they didn't. Nobody wants this. There's people all over the world killing each other and nobody wants this. But I have to stand up for what I believe in and I will continue to do so. I've had thousands of arguments with people. I row with team-mates at United all the time. It's soon forgotten about.
But when I got back to my room, two players came. Ian Harte came to say goodbye, fair play to him, then Jason McAteer. Niall Quinn and Stephen Staunton came but at the time I didn't know they'd been to a press conference and they said they thought I went too far. I said I respected their opinions but I was sticking to my guns. Alan Kelly came and said he'd been to a press conference but I actually thought he meant that morning. I thought they couldn't have had enough time. But when they explained they'd had a press conference straight away I could believe it. Then two players came to my room. They said: 'We respected everything you said Roy, but we want to play in the World Cup.' I said: 'Thanks, I appreciate your honesty.' And they said 'if it's any consolation when you left the room Niall Quinn said 'look lads we need to stick together, blah, blah, blah' and there was a round of applause. But we didn't clap'. I said, fair play to you lads but the damage is done.
The next morning I heard them all leaving. Mick Byrne came waking everybody up but of course I didn't sleep too great. I've been involved with Ireland since I was 15, the 16s, youths, 21s, the senior team, and I heard them all leaving. Mick Byrne stuck his head round the door and said 'we're away'. I shook his hand and said good luck Mick. But I felt I deserved better than that. I've known people in that squad a long time, staff as well. And when I walked out that room, that private meeting, I knew there was no going back. I've got my pride, I've got my principles and I won't let anybody accuse me of these things. People said I questioned Mick not being Irish, which is nonsense, nonsense.
Tommie Gorman: But Roy there are signs up in shops all over the country saying 'Come Back Roy'. The general election result was forgotten very quickly when this broke out. This is a huge talking point. And I'm sure everyone from your family to the people who have supported you over the years would love to see you back. They'd love to see you make the gesture. They'd love to see Mick McCarthy make the gesture, They'd love to see the players make the gesture. They would love to see the best representation of Ireland possible. And think that Ireland without you is not the country they want to follow, it's not the team we want to support.
Roy Keane: I just hope the people get behind the team. I think that's the most important thing. I spoke to my family. They were supposed to fly out but they are not now because they back me. I told them what happened. I might be a lot of things but I'm not a liar. I had to arrange my own flights back. I waited in the room for two or three hours and nobody approached the room. Nobody from the FAI approached me so that's why I rang Manchester United and asked them to book me a flight back. No-one was in the room when I walked out and people had the opportunity to speak but they wouldn't. I understand some of the younger players, obviously. It was a heated exchange, I know that. But some of the senior players knew the score but they let it all happen. When I walked out of the door that was the end of it.
The ball's not in my court any more. I didn't want to go through the media. I didn't want to be doing this interview, I didn't want to speak to the Mail over the weekend but I flew in on Saturday morning and my solicitor was there and he said 'you need to say something because there is an imbalance about the story'. And I heard some of the stuff that was coming out about me, about my wife and it just wasn't true and I thought 'I need to speak out'. That's why I'm doing this interview. Because the people of Ireland deserve to know the truth. People say I probably shouldn't have reacted the way I did, but hindsight is a great thing. I'm human, I was forced into a corner, I really was, that's my honest belief, and there was only one way I was going to come out - fighting. There was only going to be one winner and that was Mick of course. I understand that, he's the manager.
Tommie Gorman: We're all losers in this, there's no winners.
Roy Keane: No, I don't think so. I think the team will do well - they've got some good players.
Tommie Gorman: In 15 years time, are you going to look back and ask yourself what it was all about?
Roy Keane: There's no doubt in my mind. My family got to see me, it was good to be home and I'll probably go back to Cork next week. My conscience is clear. If there was any doubt in my mind that I had been a little bit out of order, I'd be back like a shot, but I won't accept it. I can't accept it.
Tommie Gorman: Is there a bit of you that says 'forget about pride?'
Roy Keane: I've been doing that for years.
Tommie Gorman: Is there a chance of you doing it again?
Roy Keane: The ball's not on my side of the court now.
Tommie Gorman: If Mick was prepared to bury the hatchet with you and the players wanted you back, what would you do?
Roy Keane: I really don't know because I can't see that happening. We'd have to see. I'd love to be back. I feel I've earned respect, that's why I'm captain. But people weren't in that room. I need to stand up for what I believe in.
Tommie Gorman: There is talk that some of the players want you back.
Roy Keane: They had their chance to speak. I think deep down they're worried about their own reputations. Steve Staunton, Alan Kelly, Niall Quinn went to the press conference, they're experienced players and they had their chance. They're all retiring after the World Cup.
Tommie Gorman: Surely you can find a way of showing an example?
Roy Keane: Maybe, but it's not in my hands and I'm standing firm for what I believe in. I try to live my life as honestly as I can. What happened to me last week was wrong. I wouldn't wish it on anybody. I felt I deserved better. Of course I lost my temper. People have made me out to be a loner, a monster, and it's nonsense. The ball's in other people's courts. I want to play for Ireland - we will have to see. Probably yes. Maybe there is a way, who knows? The World Cup is the most important thing in my life, it really is. Nobody wants to play for Ireland as much as me. The ball is not in my court. If they take me back? I really don't know, I can't see it happening. We have to see - I would love to play in the World Cup. It's up to other people. I'd like to be back. But people weren't in that room. As I said, I need to stand up for what I believe in. Nobody wanted this. Of course it's hurting me all this - dead right it is. But my conscience is clear - and that's the most important thing in my life. It really is.
© RTE Television 2002
Soccer-Ireland.Com thanks RTE Television for permission to reproduce this interview here
Thanks are due to Malachy and the Irish Times for permission to reproduce the following views of RTE journalist, Tommie Gorman, in May 2012, ten years on from the Saipan Incident.
Most press people came and waited for his return and got the pictures of him walking with the dog and then went home once the weekend came. But we stayed and we were the only ones who stayed. We were on the phones with Michael Kennedy asking would he do an interview and just asking and asking again.
The Aprés Match boys and the rest of the piss-takers and chancers made a living out of the question about the kids - 'What about the children, Roy?' And good luck to them. But for me, that was the absolute way to get at Keane. I was standing outside his house when he got back from Saipan, after flying through the night. And as he went through the gates and up his drive, you could see his kids pulling back the curtain from the upstairs room and looking out to see their father coming home, as children do.
I said it to him afterwards. And he said: 'Ah, that'd be them waiting for presents.' Which was probably not the case - it was a straightforward love thing, that Daddy was coming home. He had this jaundiced view of himself and I reckoned that this was the way to get him thinking about things, to get him to step outside it and think, 'What the hell is this all about? What the hell is going on?' Because the one thing you'd always have to say about Roy Keane is that all his life he's been a fantastically responsible person when it comes to the marginalised.
I'm convinced and I'll go to my grave believing it that Keane wanted to go back. I know that he sat up that night watching the coverage on Sky News and the first thing that came back was the disastrous statement from the players that wasn't supposed to be released. It was over then.
Roy Keane / Tommie Gorman Interview 1 & Roy Keane / Tommy Gorman Interview 2
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