HOWEVER Roy Keane's football career finally ends, it is already one of the most extraordinary in the game, both as a player and a manager. It is not just the highs and lows, although they have been extreme, but the fiery, intransigent, and ultimately baffling character of the man himself.
That turbulent career may not be over yet. His sacking from Ipswich Town has seemed inevitable for some weeks, as defeat followed defeat. Yet it is hard to believe that such a towering figure is ready to quit; still less that there are not other clubs ready to take a chance with him.
Or even countries. The dream of many an Irish fan would be to have Keane manage the national team. After the dramas of Saipan, when a frustrated Keane abandoned the squad, that seems an impossible dream. Far too much bad blood still flows.
Yet some shrewd observers think the legendary Corkman might be more suited to international football than to club management. One of his most admirable traits is his commitment to high standards in every area. That, however, makes it difficult to cope with the increasingly shady world of mega-rich players and their even richer agents.
International management is more about what happens on the pitch, which is where Keane's heart always lies. There is no reason to suppose that Giovanni Trapattoni will not complete his current contract. When it ends, a more experienced, less driven Keane might just be ready. Well, more experienced anyway.