Monday 1 May 2017

Gary Pallister: Roy Keane and I didn't talk, but it wasn't like we hated eachother

Gary Pallister was once on bad terms with Roy Keane, but relations are now more cordial
Gary Pallister was once on bad terms with Roy Keane, but relations are now more cordial
David Kelly

David Kelly

Gary Pallister and Roy Keane are friends now. Well, as friendly as anyone would like to assume they are with someone who despises people who assume anything about him.

Still, it hasn't always been so cordial, even if it didn't stop them winning multiple titles with Manchester United; then again, Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham hated each other's guts, too.

Pallister, a multi-trophy winning oak at the heart of United's defence, says: "I didn't speak to Keane for the last year that I was at United."

They didn't speak much afterwards, either.

Four years ago, Keane bumped into Pallister, who was in Basel with Bryan Robson and Cole for a Champions League game; the Irishman was riled because he thought they'd been to see Coldplay the night before and he'd been on the pay-no-mind list.

"Coldplay," Keane spluttered. "You all went to see Coldplay." In fact, a singer called Cole Page had been on the flight from Manchester.

We recall Cole's anecdote about the striker's first introduction to life at Manchester United, a pre-season trip in Marbella when the new arrival returned to his hotel only to see Pallister thwacking his team-mate.

Cole's recollection is that Keane was more worried about a damaged watch that fell to the ground as opposed to his wounded pride. "If my watch is broken, we're gonna have it, we're gonna have it," Cole recalls Keane's spitting fury at the less than pally encounter with 'Pally'.

So, when Pallister starts waxing lyrical about Keane, as most people do, it's too tempting just to let him go the whole nine yards with the fulsome fluff.

"Have you asked him the time?" you tickle teasingly.

"That was a good night," the former England defender laughs. "His watch fell on the floor. He was more concerned about that. It must have been a very expensive one. Ha! I don't want to talk about that.

"Yeah, it was handbags. You hear things and things are said and I don't think there were any connections with any punches but we managed to keep it quiet from the gaffer - that was always important."

The extraordinary thing is that so many forcible personalities at United forged incredible professional ties yet were personally distant.

Pallister reveals that Marbella was only in the ha'penny place when it came to bust-ups with Cork's most volcanic export.

"We ended up not speaking because we had a fall-out on a pre-season tour and it wasn't the Marbella one," he reveals.

"It was weird. It wasn't like we hated each other. We were just both stubborn enough not to say 'here. . .' We should have both put our hands out after that and got on with it.

"We laughed about it at the time, but we just wouldn't be the one to say 'let's forget about this'. That's how stubborn we were.

"When I left to go to Middlesbrough, Roy was walking up the stairs as I was walking down. He started laughing, I started laughing.

"We shook hands and he said 'I wish you all the best, big man' and we started talking again after that. It was something as daft as that. Two people being stubborn and immature, really.

"Listen, Roy was an unbelievable player and as much as we didn't talk we would always shake hands and get on with the game and be professional about the game.

"I'm delighted to see him doing well. He evokes a lot of media coverage. I got on great with him while I was at United. We had our ups and downs.

"He's a very strong character. I would expect to see him back in management in his own right eventually but I think he will be very good for the Ireland team right now."

If he classes his jousts with his former team-mate as 'handbags', England's last visit to these shores in 1995 were far more threatening.

Pallister may have helped delay the hooliganism that sparked in the Upper West Stand of the old Lansdowne Road - he did, after all, play David Kelly onside for the fateful goal that lit the blue touch paper.

Nobody, however, could have prevented its outbreak, although unlike other players that day, Pallister cannot recall a sense of brooding inevitability.

"I can't remember warming up and feeling that this is going to get really nasty but obviously it did," he says now.

"In warm-ups you were used to hostile receptions. I played in Turkey where we warmed up and got pelted with coins. You're aware that this can happen in football games."

Except these were his own purported followers.

"You're representing England and if it's English fans causing the mayhem then you're disappointed and let down by the people who provoked all this kind of trouble."

He expects none on Sunday; at least from the fans. As for when he meets Roy...

Gary Pallister was speaking at the launch of Ford's exclusive '152' Summer Sales campaign. For more details, see Ford.ie

Irish Independent

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