Ronny Deila backs 'legend' Roy Keane to succeed him as Celtic boss
Republic of Ireland defender Stephen Ward has urged manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant Roy Keane to sign new contracts and stay on for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
O’Neill and Keane have been linked with moves away from their current posts after the Euro 2016, yet Burnley full-back Ward hopes the duo that have revived the fortunes of the national team sign up for more of the same.
“The management team have been fantastic and all the lads will be hoping they stay on with Ireland,” Ward told Independent.ie.
“We were in a tricky place in the Euro 2016 qualifiers at one point, but Martin and Roy were fantastic in helping to turn things around.
“They are both so positive and have got a great spirit going in this Ireland squad. There is no negativity around us any more and that’s why we are heading to France convinced we can do a lot better than we did at Euro 2016.”
Ward admits it is “surreal” for him to spend time with Keane, as he says the stories told by the former Manchester United and Ireland captain have enthralled the Ireland squad over the last couple of years.
“I still find it surreal to be sitting in a room and listening to Roy Keane tell me about what life was like for him at Man Utd,” adds Ward.
“This guy was a hero to everyone in the Ireland squad and the stories he has told us all about his career have been amazing.
“He is very serious on match days because the guy is a winner and he expects us to have that attitude as well, but he has been fantastic with the players from the off and it is not all serious with Roy at all.
“I think he has enjoyed his time with us and hopefully he will want to stay on after the Euros.
“The same goes for the manager, obviously. It feels like we have a good thing going on here, so hopefully we can keep it going for another couple of years at least.”
Keane has been heavily linked with a move to Celtic in recent days, with the club’s outgoing boss Ronny Deila backing the Irishman to succeed him at Parkhead.
“So much of managing in this job is about personality because you need to be a figurehead too. You need a strong personality. (Keane) will handle all that pressure, to be a very good leader,” he told the Scottish Daily Record.
“Also, I think it’s important in this kind of job to have experience. It makes things easier. Having said that, there aren’t many places you get experiences like this. If the new manager will call, I’ll tell him what I think about things and help him if I can.
“But Roy Keane is Irish, of course. He has played at Celtic, he knows what the club’s about, so he has a skill-set that could be good in the job.
“Roy Keane is a legend in Norway. There are so many Manchester United fans there and if you ask them about Roy Keane, he is a star if he comes to Norway. I have a cousin who would die for him. He just loves him.
“I just thought he was a fantastic football player. I loved watching him playing football and he’s a strong character."