• September 17, 2021

Exclusive: Manchester United legend Roy Keane was the Premier League’s greatest captain, says Gary Neville and his leadership can be summed up in five seconds when he ignored Ronaldo and Diego Simeone handshakes

 Exclusive: Manchester United legend Roy Keane was the Premier League’s greatest captain, says Gary Neville and his leadership can be summed up in five seconds when he ignored Ronaldo and Diego Simeone handshakes


Roy Keane will no doubt go down as one of the greatest captains of all time.

He led Manchester United to four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and a famous Champions League triumph.

Keane was a serial winner for Manchester United

Keane was a serial winner for Manchester United

During a debate on social media over the weekend, a question was posed asking who the best ever Premier League skipper is.

Gary Neville, a Manchester United legend himself, did not hesitate as he replied ‘Roy Keane’.

He would know having played with him for a number of years. Keane was a man who wouldn’t tolerate it if he thought you were not giving 100 per cent effort.

And nothing more sums up Keane as a captain in one particular moment during United’s treble-winning 1998/99 season.

Despite his starring performances in that historic campaign, Keane was also remembered for his typically hilarious no-nonsense behaviour.

In the quarter-final second leg against Inter, which United went into with a 2-0 lead, the Irishman led his teammates out to shake hands with their rivals before kick-off.

Ronaldo and Simeone were fiddling with their socks when Keane approached them

Ronaldo and Simeone were fiddling with their socks when Keane approached them

Despite their late attempts to greet him, Keane ignored both players

Despite their late attempts to greet him, Keane ignored both players

Keane was in no mood to wait for a handshake

Keane was in no mood to wait for a handshake

But Keane did not shake hands with two opponents – Ronaldo and Diego Simeone.

Why? Because they were doing up their socks when Keane reached them and the skipper was in no time to wait.

He simply ignored their mind games and readied himself for war that night at the San Siro.

Paul Scholes cancelled out Nicola Ventola’s goal meaning United reached the Champions League semi-finals where they would play Juventus.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side saw off Juventus over two legs to set up a final with Bayern Munich, however, Keane would not play in the mega showdown due to suspension.

Keane received a yellow card for a foul on Zidane which ruled him out of the Champions League final

Getty

Keane received a yellow card for a foul on Zidane which ruled him out of the Champions League final

He picked up a yellow card in the semi-final second leg 3-2 victory over Juventus.

It did not stop Keane having an impact on his team off the pitch, though, as United famously scored two very late goals to beat Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou.

Describing Keane’s performance against Juventus in the second leg, Ferguson said in his first autobiography: “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 such an honour to be associated with such a player.”

Keane eventually got his hands on the Champions League trophy

Getty

Keane eventually got his hands on the Champions League trophy

That amount of praise coming from a legendary manager would usually please the person receiving it… but not Keane.

Replying to that extract from Ferguson’s book, Keane said: “Stuff like that almost insults me.

“What am I supposed to do? Give up? Not cover every blade of grass? Not do my best for my teammates? Not do my best for my club?

“I actually get offended when people throw quotes like that at me, as if I’m supposed to be honoured by it. It’s like praising the postman for delivering your letters. He’s supposed to, isn’t he? That’s his job.”

It will be hard to find another captain like Keane, that’s for sure.

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