Joy for boys as Roy's old rival spreads City revolution
Published 14/02/2012 | 05:00
ROY Keane's new career as football pundit has received the seal of approval from his old adversary Patrick Vieira.
The French World Cup winner and Arsenal footballing legend was in Limerick yesterday on a mission for English FA Cup holders Manchester City in his new role as the oil-rich club's football development executive.
Mr Vieira -- who also played for City towards the end of his illustrious career -- brought the famous old cup with him as he started a tour of the country to meet the club's fans here and pick up a few converts.
Now top of the Premier League, Manchester City are this week attempting to win over the hearts of young Irish school children with a week-long tour across the country.
Former City captain Paul Lake is among the nine members of the coaching staff who are giving free underage training sessions.
More than 300 budding footballers aged between six and 16 will receive the chance to train with the club's coaching staff in Limerick, Donegal and Cookstown, Co Tyrone, as part of the 'City in the Community' drive.
There are 17 official Manchester City supporters' clubs across the island with close to 650 members in total and Mr Vieira said he was aware how passionate Irish people were about football.
"It is important that the club comes and tries to build on the relationship between the football club and the fans," he said. "This is our way to say thanks for the support."
The Frenchman received an enthusiastic welcome from students at St Gabriel's school in Dooradoyle before taking part in a coaching school at Fairview Rangers soccer club.
While their battles on the field produced some memorable moments, Mr Vieira said he has enjoyed working with Roy Keane in recent months for ITV.
"I think he enjoys it," he said. "Of course, he would prefer to be on the field but he is somebody who talks honestly."
Famously, the two players clashed in the tunnel at Highbury before a crunch Arsenal-Manchester United Premier League match in 2005. Mr Vieira said the pair now enjoyed a healthy relationship. "I met him a few weeks ago at a charity dinner and we had a chat.
"He was a fantastic example for me when I started as a leader and I enjoyed playing against him every single time," he said.