Roy Keane: 'I like Gareth Southgate... I remember he tried to break my leg in a cup semi-final'
Roy Keane has described Gareth Southgate as one of the good guys, but argued that he is not as nice as people think he is, as he welcomed his appointment as England’s interim manager.
Keane infamously claimed he did not have any friends in football, but Southgate has earned his respect and there is genuine warmth towards him. The Irishman is confident that the former Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and Middlesbrough defender has the personality for management and claimed he is far tougher than he looks.
Southgate has taken charge of the England team, for at least four games, following the sacking of Sam Allardyce last week and although he has previously insisted he does not want the job on a permanent basis, Keane is fascinated to see how he does.
“I like Gareth,” said Keane, who has spent the last three years working as assistant manager to Martin O’Neill with the Republic of Ireland. “He is a good guy. I remember he tried to break my leg in a cup semi-final. Luckily, I got out of the way [Keane was sent off for stamping on Southgate].
“Besides that, I try not to hold that against him. I bumped into him two or three weeks ago, watching Barnsley and Reading, then the other night I bumped into him at Everton and Palace, so he has gone up in the world … He is one of the good guys.
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“There is only one way to find out if he is up to the challenge of managing England. He’s got that opportunity now. There are always pluses and minuses to any job. The media have asked, ‘Does he deserve it?’ He did well at Middlesbrough, so we’ll see how he does.
“Is he tough enough to do it? I haven’t see him work at club level or international level, but for Gareth to be around the game for as long as he has been, he must have that [nasty] streak in him. Obviously, he is not as nasty as me …”
Keane described the Telegraph’s investigation into greed and corruption within the English game last week as a sad day for football, but in a rare glimpse of his softer side, he added that he hoped it did not permanently tarnish the reputation of the game he loves.
He explained: “You have to remind people of the good things about football, because of the stuff that has gone on in the last week or two with Sam Allardyce and all these allegations and accusations.
“There are some brilliant people in football, oh my God. Why do you think it is so popular? There is so much money involved. And when there is so much money involved, like any industry, there will be greed.
“That is not going to change. But don’t allow it to take away from the brilliant people there are in football, the brilliant clubs, managers, brilliant chief executives.
“There are some good agents out there. Let’s not tarnish every agent as some dodgy Italian bluffer. There are bluffers out there. But it is the greatest game on the planet. There are some really great people involved. People love the game for a reason, there is a reason so many people watch it, but every now and again there will be a hiccup. Let’s not get distracted by it. It’s the best game on the planet.