Saturday 19 October 2019

'I'm possibly the only one that stood up to him' - Jonathan Walters gives a full response to Roy Keane's snipes

Jonathan Walters has responded to Roy Keane's criticism of him. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Jonathan Walters has responded to Roy Keane's criticism of him. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE Newsdesk Newsdesk

Jonathan Walters has given his considered response to Roy Keane's controversial comments that caused a huge stir during his on-stage appearance in Dublin last week.

At an event that raised funds for mental health charity Aware, Keane questioned Walters for speaking about his personal life in television, radio and newspaper interviews, with his comments sparking widespread criticism.

"Listen, I know all about Jon Walters. I know all about him. Bluffer," Keane told Off The Ball last week. "

"Again, he talks a good game. Then he does the circuit, goes on the TV. How harsh he was treated by me, he's crying on the TV, family situation, he's the only one whose... do me a favour."

Walters gave a brief response to the comments in an appearance on the BBC on Saturday and he has now offered more detailed thoughts in an appearance on Joe's Liquid Football show.

Walters had fall-outs with Keane on several occasions during his time working under his fellow Irishman at Ipswich and in the Republic of Ireland set-up and he didn't hold back as he summed up his relationship with the former Manchester United captain.

"What he went into, the stuff about crying on TV, I think that was something that I never expected," stated Walters.

"I'll tell you one thing about the man - he doesn't get to me one bit. I'm possibly the only one that stood up to him, more than once. I think that's what bothers him most maybe. I don't know. You'd have to ask him that question but you might get something back.

"I said this the other day - I really don't know why people pay attention. Why they get that worried by Roy. Because, yes, he was a good player - an unbelievable player - known as a hard man on the pitch.

"But there's a difference between being a hard man on the pitch and being a tough guy. Just because someone has a sharp tongue or a stare, doesn't make them a tough guy.

"My brother-in-law was a Marine commando, went to war, he's a tough guy. They're the people you say are tough guys, not Roy. So that's why I was never scared as a player."

Walters went on to chronicle why he spoke out about his family tragedies, as he suggested his comments gave comfort to others who had also suffered begreavement.

"I did an interview with Henry Winter two years ago and he caught me by surprise. He asked me about my mum, which I'd never spoke about. Not even with my family, not even with my wife and my kids," he added.

"It's almost like a taboo subject and always has been. I went into it and I broke down. And he offered to not publish it. To take it out. But I said 'No go ahead with it. Just see what comes of it.'

"I was nervous about it. It came out, off the back of that - the amount of people that got in touch through Twitter and Instagram, people in the street…

"It was a case of people, what they went into - they had lost children recently, they'd lost parents - and they were lower than low.

"You're talking about things that they were contemplating and the fact that I had spoken out had helped them speak to someone and to really help them. So it hit a chord with me that when you have a platform you can speak about it.

"Then I went to the Late Late Show in Dublin. And no one knew the year I'd had. Only my wife knew… really to the extent of the year that we both had.

"And it was a case of I lost my brother, went on pre-season to Cork, lost my brother. Flew back over to England. Met my other brother and sister. Flew back to Cork to play in a pre-season game because I just wanted to carry on with it.

"My wife lost her baby the day after. And then my daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis, which is… You're talking about operations and as a 14-year-old girl that's not nice. That hit me hard.

"So I went on the Late Late Show but I couldn't get my words out. I was okay speaking to my wife about it, because we both knew. But to go and tell everyone else… I didn't want to do it, but it was just the fact of how many people it helped in the first place.

"And mental health's a massive issue now. I think suicide's the biggest killer of men, isn't it? And the people that got in touch with me in the first place, that made me wanna say 'Look, footballers - we're humans. This happens to us.'

"And you know, my brother passed away, and a big part of him passing away was mental health, from a young age. Partly to do with Mum passing away - that was a big reason he was why he was in the end.

"And (for Keane) to go there - that was… whether he meant it or not, he probably did… I think it just shows a side of him that probably I know."

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