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Roy Keane Shows Real Character
Roy Keane Dominates Juventus in Turin
Contrast Roy Keane's attitude towards his on-pitch violence with his view of one of the most inspiring and jaw-dropping performances by any soccer player, anywhere, at any time. The performance in question was his. The opposition was the mighty Juventus. The venue was the Stadio Delle Alpi in Turin. The circumstances were that it was the second leg of the 1999 Champions League semi-final; United had just about scraped 1-1 draw in the first leg at Old Trafford with a very late equaliser from Ryan Giggs; Juventus were big favourites to make the final; within ten minutes of the start of the second leg United were 2-0 down; and this Juventus midfield was oozing with the class of Edgar Davids, Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane.
By any realistic judgement of the situation, United looked dead and buried - but then Roy Keane does not tend to view things as the rest of us do.
Roy Keane gritted his teeth, clenched his fists, and stamped his superior will on the star-studded Juventus midfield.
In a immense performance of leadership, skill and determination Keane first harried the Juventus midfielders, then subdued them, and then stabbed them with a beautiful headed goal. He eventually totally dominated them to provide an unshakeable platform for his team mates to finish Juventus off. Goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole delivered the coupe de grace.
It was a truly stunning performance by Roy Keane and a real privilege to have witnessed it live.
Keane Undeterred by Missing Champions League Final
His performance was all the more remarkable because, while United were still trailing in aggregate by 3-2 and the Juventus team was still posing a major goal threat, Keane was booked for an innocuous tackle on Zidane as he stretched to reach a poor pass from United's Jesper Blomqvist. The booking meant that Roy Keane would be suspended for the 1999 Champions League final in the Nou Camp in Barcelona. In his autobiography Keane said that, "...I was so much into this battle that the consequences of the card barely registered."[Page 187]. That is somewhat doubtful as Keane's remonstration with Blomqvist suggested that he was fully aware of the significance of the booking.
What is not in doubt is that, unlike Paul Gascoigne, who found himself in similar circumstances in a 1990 World Cup semi-final, he did not descend into a blubbering mess. Instead he disregarded his own personal misfortune and simply applied himself with amazing vigour and commitment to drive Manchester United on to it's first European Cup final since 1968. This was an objective that Keane and Alex Ferguson had mutually shared since their first ever meeting.
Roy Keane's & Alex Ferguson's View of Turin 1999
It is worth contrasting how Sir Alex Ferguson and Keane viewed the Irishman's monumental performance on that amazing night in Turin.
In Alex Ferguson - Managing My Life the Manchester United described Keane's performance thus, "I did not think I could have a higher opinion of any footballer than I already had of the Irishman but he rose even further in my estimation at the Stadio Delle Alpi. The minute he was booked and out of the final, he seemed to redouble his efforts to get the team there. It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player."
In Roy Keane's utobiography Keane is much more understated and modest in his comments about his performance, "I was proud of our team that night. I was for once proud of myself, content that I had justified my existence and honoured my debts to the manager who'd placed so much trust in me. The Champions League final was where I believed Manchester United should be. I genuinely felt that that was so much more important than whether or not I would be there. When that euphoric feeling evaporated (it lasted quite a while) I was gutted."[Page 187-188].
For Keane this was no false modesty. In his autobiographical video Roy Keane: As I See It (2002) he expressed a view that he felt guilty about the booking in the semi-final as it meant that he had let the team down by not being available for the final !
Roy Keane's View of the World
In the same way that Roy Keane cannot see how flagrant acts of violence, such as those as perpetrated by him in his horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland and his stamp on Gareth Southgate, are totally unacceptable to any right-thinking soccer fan he cannot fully understand that his performance against Juventus was of unparalleled magnificence.
To most people both are as obvious as the bulging veins on his temple were when he famously led a posse of United players in pursuit of referee, Andy D'Urso.
Yet in whatever universe that Keane lives in he doesn't see things the way the rest of us do. It is this aspect of his character is what ultimately led to the Saipan Incident - indeed perhaps made it almost inevitable.
NOTE: Unless stated otherwise all quotations are from:
Triggs - The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
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