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Roy Keane & Alan Shearer - Red Card
Roy Keane was sent of for the tenth time in his career on 15 September 2001. In a match in St James Park against Newcastle United, Manchester United had been 3-1 behind. Goals from Ryan Giggs and Juan Sebastian Veron levelled the score before Alan Shearer grabbed a late goal to make the score 4-3 to Newcastle.
Roy Sees Red
With time running out Roy Keane attempted to take a quick throw-in inside the Manchester United half. Alan Shearer impeded Keane, preventing him taking the throw. Roy Keane's autobiography takes up the story from there;
"I lose it, throw the f***ing ball at him. 'You p**k' he sneers. The way he says it I know he really means it. I go for him, try to grab him by the throat. He's grinning. 'You p**k.' He gestures dismissively. The red card comes out. Shearer's right. I am a prick. Fell into the trap."[Page 236]
Roy Keane Quits Football
Even though it was still relatively early in the season the signs were not positive for Manchester United. Team results and performances had been poor. This would have been enough to depress Keane in any event but the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson had announced that this would be his last season as manager of Manchester United had upset Keane.
The only man that Keane would ever listen to in football was about to retire. There was pall hanging over the United squad and Keane was convinced that the players had become apathetic. This was probably the closest thing to hell on earth for Keane. While he hated being involved in the Republic of Ireland set up he could limit his exposure by, choosing the matches to turn up for, by turning up late for matches, rooming on his own, and avoiding any unnecessary contact with the management and players.
With United none of this was an option. Playing for United was his day-job. There was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Unless he quit football.
Keane Had Enough of his Own Behaviour
After his red card at Newcastle that's exactly what he was determined to do. Give it all up. In what is perhaps one of the most honest passages in his autobiography Keane describes his thoughts as he travelled home to United on the team bus to Manchester.
"...I felt numb. I've done daft things before, but this time there was no excuse. Poyet in the Charity Shield ... retaliation. The night in jail ... a set up. All the red cards, Haaland, Villa Park, Middlesborough, Southampton, you're only human, Roy, I told myself. But this time I couldn't let myself off the hook. I'd had enough of my own behaviour. I'd had enough - full stop. The silence was because everybody else felt the same. It wasn't worth it, I thought. Putting myself and everyone else through this. Driving, always driving. There's only so much people can take."[Page 236]
Keane - I Should Have Punched Him Properly
What is so honest about this is that Keane confirms that had no real sense remorse or guilt about the the catalogue of events mentioned - not even the horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland. It is difficult to work out what it was about the Shearer sending off incident that drove Keane to the decision to quit football at thirty years of age. It certainly wasn't any regret over his attempt to
"...grab him by the throat." As Keane brazenly stated in his video, As I See It, "... the worst thing is, I pushed him. If you're going to get sent off you might as well punch him properly because you're going to get the same punishment. You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb...it was just a push, ridiculous."
Bottled Up Emotions
Perhaps, as with other unfortunate incidents during his career it was what was going on in the background that was the real issue. The red card at Newcastle was just a symptom. More than likely it was the malaise that he perceived permeated Manchester United at time. A malaise brought about by the forthcoming retirement of Alex Ferguson.
As with other occasions throughout his career he bottled up his feelings inside. Rather than dealing with them in a rational and adult fashion he used the soccer pitch to vent his emotions.
Roy Keane Un-Quits Football
As is patently obvious Keane did not quit football at the time. In his autobiography following persistent entreaties by his wife and Alex Ferguson he decided to change his mind.
"I did it for Alex Ferguson. He'd stood by me through everything; quitting now would be a slap in the face for him, the last thing he needed when the club was struggling."[Page 239].
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
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