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Roy Keane Saipan Interview With Tom Humphries - Irish Times
This Interview First Appeared in the Irish Times on Thursday 23 May 2002
Tom Humphries: So after all the effort you put into getting the team here [Saipan], what makes you announce that you are going home after a training ground row?
Roy Keane: Well, it was the tip of the iceberg. I've basically had enough of certain things. I've come over here to do well and I want people around me to want to do well. If I feel we're not all wanting the same things, there's no point. It's been going on a while.It's the whole fact of being away. Like every other footballer. Maybe I should just be OK with it, but enough is enough. I'm banging my head against a brick wall regarding certain issues about this trip. This trip is the tip of the iceberg. From the training facilities to all sorts.
Tom Humphries: Even here in Saipan?
Roy Keane: It's not right? You've seen the training pitch and I'm not being a prima donna. Training pitch, travel arrangements, getting through the bloody airport when we were leaving, it's the combination of things. I would never say 'that's the reason or this is the reason', but enough is enough.
Tom Humphries: Did you have reservations about the idea of flying 17 hours here?
Roy Keane: Yeah, exactly. Flying 17 hours. It's different if we came here to a top training facility. The hotel is fine, but we've come here to work. You wonder why players get injured? Well, playing on a surface like that. I can't imagine any other country, countries in the world who are far worse off than us, playing on something like that. I don't think it's too much for us to ask, just for a pitch that's even watered. It's so dangerous. It's rock hard. One or two of the lads have picked up injuries. I'm amazed there hasn't been more but give it time. But you know, we're the Irish team, it's a laugh and a joke. We shouldn't expect too much.
Tom Humphries: Did you talk to people about it before you got here?
Roy Keane: No, no, I was quite relaxed. Everything was fine. Starting from the airport though, and the farce of trying to get through the airport, and all the press and nothing organised and we get here and the skips containing the team's training gear are missing, blah blah blah! Here we go. This is not right. All I want is what's best for me and the team. I mean that. It's not right in anybody's eyes. It's a laugh and a joke, of course, some of it, always has been with us, but now I'm thinking enough is enough.
Tom Humphries: It's fair to say though that you came on the trip unhappy with coverage of you missing Niall Quinn's testimonial.
Roy Keane: Yeah. It was straightforward. I was injured, I wasn't fit. Then coming over on Wednesday on the plane I got a couple of complimentary papers and the word 'disrespectful' was mentioned. People said I should have been in the stand in a shirt and tie. Sure. I'm not that daft either. I was going away on Wednesday for five weeks, what was I supposed to do? Sit in the stand? Do you think I would have been left alone up there? Do you think Quinny would have been going 'ah, cheers Roy for coming.' That wouldn't have been the case. It was a choice. I wasn't fit. To spend the last night with my wife and kids... as it happened I went to the pictures with my wife at about 9pm after a day with the kids. It was that or be up in Sunderland sitting in the stand. I'd very little time with Theresa and the kids at the end of a long year. I played Saturday, had treatment on Monday and Tuesday and left for here on Friday. Good luck to Quinny with what he's doing, but I don't need to be involved in the whole hullaballoo. My conscience is clear. Yeah, I wasn't happy, but I forgot about that.
Tom Humphries: Was it something that could have been handled better by the FAI?
Roy Keane: Again yeah. Without a doubt. They knew my situation. And Quinny did. They are the most important people, Quinny and Mick. They knew my situation. I've been seeing somebody in France who's been helping with my injuries. Then I picked up two dead legs against Arsenal. It had gone by Saturday the one in my right leg so I played against Charlton, but there was no way I could have travelled to France to have even done that work, because he does a lot of stretching on my legs and I wasn't fit. I wouldn't have made Quinny's game. Either I went to France on Monday and after the stretching I'd have to rest for a day or two, or the dead leg would put me out. So I let them know. My priority was getting ready for the World Cup and, again, no disrespect to Quinny. If people want to say that...
Tom Humphries: So Tuesday, you left for training, you seemed to be in good form. What happened?
Roy Keane: It's a lot of things. There's a lot of things I don't understand when we come away like this - barbecue with the media, say. I don't understand the purpose of things. Or some of the gear going missing. The barbecue. Training pitch being wrong. No balls. Only two goals. There's differences of opinions about different things. Maybe I just don't get it.
Tom Humphries: So what was the final straw then?
We'd no goalkeepers for the five-a-side.
Tom Humphries: I saw you reacting badly to that. Why?
Roy Keane: Ask any player, any footballer, anyone in the world, anybody - at the end of training you need a little game. Their attitude was that the keepers were tired. I completely disagreed with them. Tired? Well, is that not why we are all here? Explain that one to me. We've done about three hours work here, three hours work since Nigeria last Thursday. I know it's a relaxation but we could be in for a big shock next Saturday against Cameroon.
Tom Humphries: But how does it go from there to you and Alan Kelly having a shouting match?
Roy Keane: Obviously Alan disagreed. Packie said they'd worked hard. Alan said they worked hard. I said 'do ye want a pat on the back for working hard - is that not why you are here?' I did mention that they wouldn't be too tired to play golf the next day and, fair play, they dragged themselves out! That was my stance and Kells took his stance. Few words, but I've had arguments like that hundreds of times. Unfortunately, there was press there and you could say it got heated between me and Alan, but Alan is a decent lad. I went to speak to Alan later. You can laugh about it. These things happen. You get 23 lads away with each other. No big deal. It's over and gone. Done with.
Tom Humphries: And when you came off the training ground and got on the bus on your own, had you decided then to come home?
Roy Keane: Yeah. I'd had enough. I'm not asking too much - for everyone to want what's best. If it's a crime, **** it, I'm guilty. Listen, people show it in different ways. Some people go to their rooms but it plays on me when something can be done about it. It's not being a primadonna. There's things you can't accept. That kind of pitch. No training kit. No balls. A 20-hour flight and there's no skips containing the team's training gear. They said the skips were supposed to be here on Thursday. They should have been here two weeks ago, so there was no doubt! We're getting advised that we have to drink this stuff. It's not here yet, but when it does come you have to drink it. All the lads feel the same. I react differently. I know that's a downside. I am what I am, warts and all. Maybe you'll say I should have taken a step back. That's hindsight.
Tom Humphries: So what happened?
Roy Keane: It was a long night and a lot went through my head. I had to speak to people I respect. Obviously I had my family to think about but if it was up to me I wouldn't still be here. Couldn't have got a flight until four o'clock Wednesday. I spoke to my wife. I spoke to Michael Kennedy, his agent, I spoke to Alex Ferguson. He's a good man and he gave me good words of advice. You have to listen to these people. The manager Ferguson has the same temperament as me. He understood what I was going through. He told me to stick it out, but this is it.
Tom Humphries: What were the arguments being put to you?
Roy Keane: I knew I had my family to think about back in Ireland. My poor dad, me mam, my three brothers and sisters. It would be all very well for me going back to Manchester. I knew all that. I was seeing straight, you know, but I just couldn't justify myself being here. Not just this trip, there's the constant, negative criticism over the years chipping away. I'm 30, I've had my few injuries. I travelled more than other players because of my commitments to United. That's not a complaint, it's just a fact and I just got to a stage where I said, I don't need this. So I spoke to the manager and I'll stick it out till after the World Cup and that will be it for me. Without a doubt.
Tom Humphries: And how do you feel now that you are staying?
Roy Keane: Today I'm thinking that the first game is next Saturday. I've got some of my family coming out before then to relax with. They're people I can switch off with and relax with. Obviously I room on my own and I'm in here in his room quite a bit, which is what I want anyway. If there was a flight yesterday, I'd have been gone.
© The Irish Times Limited 2002
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