Thursday 21 November 2019

Aidan Fitzmaurice: 'Arter's 'Tory Boy' tag cannot compare to Richard Keogh's utter hurt'

Richard Keogh, left, and Harry Arter during an Ireland training session
Richard Keogh, left, and Harry Arter during an Ireland training session
Richard Keogh. Photo: PA

Aidan Fitzmaurice

By confusing Jeremy Corbyn for Boris Johnson, defending millionaires and earning himself some public shaming, Harry Arter made sure it was not a good weekend for English-born Ireland internationals.

The immediate pain for Arter from his embarrassment was having to close his Twitter account. But there will be the long-term impact of being known, possibly forever more, as a 'Tory boy', a tag he will struggle to shake off and which will guarantee boos if he plays at places like Anfield.

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Arter used Twitter last week to defend his team-mate, and a friend, but the impact of Derby County's decision to sack Richard Keogh last week has been made painfully clear. Keogh has not spoken publicly since his world was turned upside down, and his Derby career effectively ended, when he sat into the back seat of a car driven by a Derby County team-mate who had been drinking alcohol.

The defender will have his say, though not until the legal process of an appeal against his dismissal has been heard, but his agent has left no doubt that the incident has affected Keogh.

Before that drink-related episode, Keogh was never seen as someone capable of making headlines across the world, the defender more likely to be recognised on the streets of a city or town in Ireland than in his native England. Now, he's known as the footballer who sat in the back seat, without a seat belt, of a car driven by a drunk friend.

"Richard is in a really bad way, it's heartbreaking," Keogh's agent Cos Toffis told Talksport.

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"I don't think I can put into words how much he's hurting and what his family are going through. Richard's world has been absolutely rocked.

"I was absolutely shocked that Derby sacked him.

"It was something we were paranoid about but at no point did we think it was going to happen. It was a devastating blow. It's a decision I wish they didn't take. To be kicked to the kerb is a really difficult pill to swallow."

Keogh was club captain at Derby. That was one of the reasons given for the club's harsh decision to sack him as it was argued that his age and responsibility from that captaincy role should have led him to find any way home from the team's night out apart from being driven by a pal who had been drinking.

And Toffis says the lack of empathy from Derby hurt Keogh. "Richard was family at Derby. He played 356 games for the club and whenever a player commits to a club the way Richard has, you become family," he said.

"He will be in the Derby County family for the rest of his life; there won't be many players who will play that many games over the next 50 or 60 years for one club.

Cried

"He's given everything to Derby. He's only missed a handful of games, he's fought in that shirt, he's bled in that shirt, he's cried in that shirt.

"He loves Derby County and he's got an exceptional relationship with fans and the staff. He hasn't even been able to go in to say goodbye to the staff."

The time frame of Keogh's injury had suggested that the 33-year-old could struggle to play football again, certainly at a decent level, but his agent says Keogh will be back.

"Will Richard play again? One million per cent," Toffis said.

"He is the most determined character I've come across in my life, and anyone who has met him will back that up. In 12 or 13 months from now he'll be putting his boots back on and getting back out there."

Arter's name is now mocked but he still has his full health and his career. Keogh has neither and deleting the Twitter app from his phone won't make things any better.

Irish Independent

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