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Sunday 16 June 2019

Keane in eye of new storm as bust-ups with players leaked

Latest in a line of bust ups: Roy Keane walks on the pitch in the Cardiff City Stadium prior to the game against Wales. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Latest in a line of bust ups: Roy Keane walks on the pitch in the Cardiff City Stadium prior to the game against Wales. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane has once again found himself in the eye of a storm after searing verbal bust-ups with two players were made public.

The account of the heated events, provided by full-back Stephen Ward in a leaked WhatsApp recording, claims that Keane had altercations with striker Jon Walters and midfielder Harry Arter in late May and June of this year.

It was stated by Ward that the Ireland soccer team's assistant coach took issue with both players for not training because of injury, and launched a foul-mouthed tirade at Walters.

The incident escalated to such an extent that both men had to be physically restrained from one another by fellow staff.

In a later bust-up with Arter, Keane is said to have told the midfielder: "You're a f***ing pr***, you're a c***, you don't even care, you don't want to train."

While Walters has since joined up again with the Irish team, Arter has been absent from the squad.

It is by no means the first time that Keane has been central to a pantomime distracting from the football.

Keane has been no stranger to controversy during his lengthy career as both a player and manager.

The former Manchester United midfielder did not publicly comment on the altercation, but manager Martin O'Neill was quick to leap to his number two's defence during a scheduled press conference in Poland yesterday.

O'Neill began by casting doubt over Stephen Ward's version, saying that it "doesn't tally" with the account of events given by Keane.

The head coach then pointed out that Ward wasn't even present when the bust-ups took place, saying that the full-back was "picking up things" from others.

"It's not the first altercation between players and staff. I had one with the man beside me on Friday [David Meyler] and he took it on board," O'Neill added.

For Keane, it is just another heated and publicised exchange while in an Ireland camp to add to the list.

He played the opposite role 16 years ago when, as captain, his infamous bust-up with Ireland coach Mick McCarthy resulted in him leaving the Ireland training camp in Saipan, just days before the 2002 World Cup campaign began.

His rant at McCarthy was similar to the torrent of abuse he is said to have directed at Arter earlier this year.

"You were a crap player, you are a crap manager.

"The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are manager of my country and you're not even Irish, you English c***. You can stick the World Cup up your b*****ks," he reportedly told McCarthy.

WhatsApp wasn't in existence at the time for a fellow player to give a 'blow-by-blow' account of the exchange, but the comments were widely reported and have gone down in Irish sporting history.

His magnetism for controversy also surfaced in his 2002 autobiography, when he reminisced over his infamous tackle on Manchester City's Alf Inge Haaland.

"I'd waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***," Keane recalled of the incident.

He left Manchester United several years later following a trademark outburst against a number of his teammates in an interview with the club's TV channel.

Irish Independent

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