|Irish Football > Saipan 2002 > Keane's Saipan Interview|
Roy Keane's Saipan Interview With Paul KimmageContinued from Paul Kimmage Interview 1
This Interview First Appeared in the Sunday Independent on Sunday 26 May 2002
Paul Kimmage: What does it mean to play in another World Cup? And what did it mean first time round? There has been a sense of you really driving the team to get here this time?
Roy Keane: Hopefully I try to do that in every match. Obviously when you get that bit older you are more mature about things and take things a bit more in your stride. And I feel without doubt that I'm a much better player. '94 was a bit gung-ho. I don't think my preparation was the best for all sorts of reasons and I feel this year. . . . .I feel this year will be a lot harder than '94 because of the teams we're playing and the fact that we are so far away.
Paul Kimmage: You say you enjoyed it more in '94. Does that mean you don't enjoy it now?
Roy Keane: No, I do. I love training when I'm fit. And I love winning, although it's not been a great season for us this year. The team has not played well and I've had one or two injuries and not played particularly well. But I love training. And I love being around people who have the same targets as me and at United that's generally the case, although sometimes maybe not. But I've got people around me who want the best and that's what I think we should try and do.
I look after myself a lot better. My recovery after games is a lot better and I feel a hell of a better player, but I still feel I can improve. I'm 31 this summer and the games are getting faster and players are getting stronger so youneed to prepare right. And you shouldn't be looking for a pat on the back for it. Everybody should be pulling the same way, which probably pisses me off with Ireland sometimes when I don't feel it's quite there. Some people have a laugh and bite their tongue and accept it but I don't.
Paul Kimmage: That side of you that refuses to go with the flow.
Roy Keane: Only thing that goes with the flow are dead fish.
Paul Kimmage: Very good. I bet you read that?
Roy Keane: Some friend of mine told me it recently, but that's not . . . every few months, especially last season, it was Keane blasts this and Keane blasts that. I don't blast anything.
I love my team-mates. I love what's best for them and for the Irish team. I think all of the lads are nice lads on the Irish team. They are all genuinely good lads. They train hard, they play hard and good luck to them. And it's the same at United. 'Keane blasts this'.
All I want is what's best. And no one has ever disagreed with me. Ever.
Paul Kimmage: Okay, but this side of you that refuses to go with the flow. With a bit of work, you could easily be the most popular sportsman in Ireland but you make no effort whatsoever to do anything for yourself in terms of PR?
Roy Keane: There's enough people who do that. There's enough people out there who enjoy things like that. And I think, eventually, people see through that. Most people I meet, United fans and Ireland fans when I go back to Cork, are generally quite nice and polite to me and I don't need to. There are enough people out there looking for photo opportunities and to become pals with certain people. I don't need it.
Paul Kimmage: But the flip side is that you only appear in the papers when there's a controversy or you're in a rage. There's an imbalance there?
Roy Keane: Maybe so but I don't want to be . . . even last week when people said, 'oh you should have turned up for Quinny's night' but what do I need to do? Make a statement every time there is some sort of accusation. Or justify why I might have been late when I told the people who were important. And today is the same. They wanted me to speak to the press today but I'll speak to the press when I'm due to speak to them at a press conference in two days' time.
Paul Kimmage: I don't believe you don't care what is written about you?
Roy Keane: Of course I care. I care what my parents think and what my family think.
Paul Kimmage: And how it affects them.
Roy Keane: Of course. And I do accept criticism when it's constructive but I'm coming over on the flight (to Dublin) the other day and reading 'Roy Keane was disrespectful to Niall Quinn and should have been in the stand with a shirt and tie on.' But why the f**k should I have been sitting in the stand with a shirt and tie on when I'm not fit. It's Niall Quinn's night, not Roy Keane's! That was Quinny's night and good luck to him. 'Disrespectful.' That's not nice, but did I send out a statement the next day to correct it? No, because I'd be making statements every day of the week.
Paul Kimmage: There's no history between you and Niall?
Roy Keane: No.
Paul Kimmage: But this is a guy who has gone out and made this fantastic gesture for charity. He is Ireland's record goal scorer. Why not do him a favour? Why not say, 'okay, this doesn't suit me but he's my team-mate and I'll go along?'
Roy Keane: To do what?
Paul Kimmage: As a gesture of support. To be there because you're Roy Keane.
Roy Keane: I was flying out the next day for four or five weeks . . . now do you want me to sit in a stand or stay at home with my wife and kids? I went to the pictures with my wife. Did you want me to sit in the stand and be pestered by people who are drunk? Do you think it would have made a difference?
Paul Kimmage: I bumped into Eamon Dunphy recently and we spoke about your book (Dunphy is ghosting the Keane autobiography) and one of the things he mentioned was that you don't have any friends in the game?
Roy Keane: No, that would be right.
Paul Kimmage: And that won't hurt you when your career has ended?
Roy Keane: No.
Paul Kimmage: But you like dogs?
Roy Keane: Yeah, I've got my dog.
Paul Kimmage: What is it?
Roy Keane: A Labrador retriever.
Paul Kimmage: What's his name?
Roy Keane: It's a she. Triggs.
Paul Kimmage: Why dogs?
Roy Keane: Loyal.
Paul Kimmage: They don't let you down?
Roy Keane: Yeah.
Paul Kimmage: They don't turn you over?
Roy Keane: No.
Paul Kimmage: Okay, let's rewind the tape now to the start of this trip. It's Friday the 17th of May, we've just played Nigeria and we're about to depart for the World Cup. And seasoned Keano watchers are wondering 'how is he going to handle a month away from home?' (He grins). So you arrive at the airport to check in and straight away there's the media circus with Bertie and it's obvious from your demeanour that you're not very impressed?
Roy Keane: No, but none of the players were. And did you not see the (chaos at) check-in? And then we go into this lounge and there's two guys dressed as leprechauns (promoting) The Sun, telling me to cheer up. They want me to pose for a photograph for The Sun newspaper! And we're in a lounge getting ready for a long-haul flight with the Irish football team! It's a laugh isn't it? It's a great laugh.
Paul Kimmage: But you're not laughing?
Roy Keane: Certainly not.
Paul Kimmage: Because you hate all that?
Roy Keane: It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy. And all of the players feel the same. They were all complaining about it on the plane. And then eventually we do get into some sort of lounge but we're still getting all sorts of people coming up to us and you're thinking 'How the hell did they get in here?' And it's not losing touch with reality it's . . . We're getting ready for a World Cup. We're going to be travelling for over 20 hours. And I've got two bloody leprechauns telling me to 'Cheer up Keano.' I thought 'I'll f***king knock you out, you stupid c**t.'
Paul Kimmage: And did that put you in bad humour for Bertie?
Roy Keane: No, but again, the Bertie thing. I've met Bertie before. I think there was an election that day, was there?
Paul Kimmage: You mean you didn't vote?
Roy Keane: No. But all that should have been organised before we left the hotel. The President came out the night before and it's well and good them all wishing us luck, it's great, don't get me wrong but there are always hidden agendas, always, always, hidden agendas. Bertie is a bloody nice bloke. I've met him a few times, he's a big United fan, I know all that but it's just . . . it should have been better organised.
Paul Kimmage: Okay, so then we fly to Amsterdam and you have a go at a couple of journalists at the airport?
Roy Keane: No, no, I didn't have a go. If that's having a go . . .
Paul Kimmage: So that was mild?
Roy Keane: (Laughs) Very mild. I was dead relaxed about it. It was them that got carried away.
Paul Kimmage: It was just a mild bollicking?
Roy Keane: It wasn't even a bollicking. I just thought . . . And I was annoyed with myself afterwards because I felt I had lowered myself . . . But it was because of what I had read on the way over. Philip Quinn (Irish Independent) said I was disrespectful to Niall but they need to know their facts. And Billy George! Billy works for The Echo or The Examiner, which I despise anyway for some of the things they have written about my family so . . . I felt annoyed at that. But that's history now.
Paul Kimmage: And when you get annoyed like that, how difficult is it to control?
Roy Keane: Sometimes I don't find it a problem but other times enough is enough. But I haven't had a confrontation with a reporter for a long, long, time.
Paul Kimmage: Okay, so we arrive in Saipan and there's a meal and a team meeting that evening and Mick announces that the training kit hasn't arrived.
Roy Keane: Yeah.
Paul Kimmage: And it pisses you off?
Roy Keane: Yeah. But it doesn't surprise me.
Paul Kimmage: So is that his fault or the FAI?
Roy Keane: It doesn't matter does it?
Paul Kimmage: So you go training next morning and you tog out in runners and stuff and the pitch is bad and that's really irritating for you, the ultimate pro.
Roy Keane: Yeah, for any pro.
Paul Kimmage: And there's a barbeque with the press later that evening?
Roy Keane: Yeah, which I can't understand . . . But then again, some of the players are best mates with the press so why not go out with them. And the same with Mick and the staff.
Paul Kimmage: It's called good public relations?
Roy Keane: Yeah, but a lot of them are hypocrites. And you want me to sit there and have a barbeque with a guy who three or four years ago wrote an article encouraging people to boo me at an international match? Am I supposed to enjoy that? Am I supposed to feel comfortable with that? I probably shouldn't have gone but sometimes I do make the effort.
Paul Kimmage: And yet, despite these irritations, by Tuesday afternoon you're in good form. Jason says he has spoken to you more in the last couple of days then in the last couple of years. Relations within the team are good.
Roy Keane: Yeah . . . but again . . . they're all decent lads to be fair to them, although I wouldn't take too much notice of what Jason says. Jason has a big mouth.
Paul Kimmage: Even when he says nice things about you? Even when he says, as he did last week when you were getting it in the neck from the papers, that people never hear about the Roy Keane that goes to visit sick kids in hospitals?
Roy Keane: Naah . . . Jason is just being Jason . . . he's probably hoping I'll find that out. He also said a few months ago that I was a grumpy bastard but the day I start worrying about what Jason says will be a sad one. But he's a nice lad.
Paul Kimmage: Despite that?
Roy Keane: Yeah.
© Independent.ie 2002
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
Ireland at 2002 World Cup Finals - Irish 2002 World Cup Squad - Irish Group Matches
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