Jason McAteer: As I grow older, there's a slight sympathy towards Roy Keane
Jason McAteer reckons Roy Keane won't feel any debt of gratitude towards Ireland after Saipan in 2002 but the former Liverpool man admits he has sympathy for the Corkman.
McAteer and Keane were involved in very public spats following the World Cup in 2002 when the Irish captain left the panel following a blistering row with manager Mick McCarthy during a team meeting.
Following that incident, McAteer went to face Roy Keane in his hotel room to request the return of DVDs he had lent Keane.
And in his book, Blood, Sweat and McAteer, the 52-times-capped Irish international stated that there was genuine fear in the squad meeting room at the Saipan Hyatt Regency Hotel that the "hatred" between Keane and manager Mick McCarthy would lead to physical violence.
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Speaking to betsafe.com today, McAteer says he has some sympathy for Keane now that he "is older and wiser".
"I don't think Roy cares (about Japan incident). I think he's got his opinion on why he wanted to leave, he will stand by that opinion for as long as ever.
That incident, we all see it through different eyes, I see it through my eyes and my take on it is completely different from say Gary Breen's or Shay Given's or Gary Kelly's. We all see it through our own eyes. Roy will see it through his and he will stand by his decision.
"As I've got older and a bit wiser, more forgiving probably, there's a slight sympathy towards Roy on that circumstance when I look back.
"Because arguably he was the best midfielder in the world at that time, Spain weren't the Spain that they've become, Brazil. He was at the top of his game, if any country wanted a midfielder in the centre, they all would have picked Roy Keane.
"So for him to go home, it was very disappointing. My sympathy comes because he missed that World Cup at a time when he was the best player in that position, and it was his stage and he missed that. But that's something that he has to deal with, I wouldn't say knowing Roy's personality, there's any debt of gratitude that he feels to the Republic of Ireland."
Read the betsafe.com interview with Jason McAteer, including how he would have preferred to have Italy over Denmark.