Thursday 21 November 2019

'It's heartbreaking' - Richard Keogh in 'a really bad way' after Derby sacking

Richard Keogh. Photo: Getty Images
Richard Keogh. Photo: Getty Images

PA Sport

Richard Keogh's agent believes Derby's decision to sack his client for gross misconduct could set a dangerous precedent for the game.

County terminated the contract of their captain two years early after he was involved in a car crash that resulted in team-mates Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett being convicted of drink-driving.

Derby's decision has been criticised as Lawrence, 25, and Bennett, 23, have faced lesser punishments while the 33-year-old Keogh - who could be sidelined for at least 12 months with injuries sustained in the incident - has lost his job.

Former defender Richard Dunne wrote on these pages at the weekend to question whether the Republic of Ireland international's punishment related to his age and injury, while the younger players were kept at the club - thoughts echoed by Keogh's agent Cos Toffis.

"I think it could be quite a big can of worms," Toffis told TalkSport. "If this goes in Derby's favour there will be a lot of players in difficult positions at their football clubs.

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"Older players with less market value who are on a lot of money, these are scenarios you have at every football club in the world. Should they start wrapping themselves up in cotton wool to avoid any situations like this?"

Asked if Keogh should have known better than to get into the car with his team-mates after a night drinking, Toffis said: "I'm not going to accept that. I can't really go into the events of the evening but I do have a side of the events so I can't accept what you just said."

Keogh had 14 days to appeal against Derby's decision from the point that it was made last Wednesday. However, Toffis said no conversations had yet taken place with the club regarding a possible reconciliation.

"The decision was made by them, they closed that door when they made that decision and since they did my phone hasn't rung," he said.

"I'm a football agent, my phone number isn't blocked to anyone. If they ring there'll be a conversation of course."

Asked if it was correct that Keogh had rejected a hefty pay-cut to stay at the club, Toffis declined to comment directly, but said: "Richard is probably the most rational and reasonable person you could meet.

"The only thing I pleaded with them for was to treat Richard like family which I felt he should be."

Toffis said Keogh was "ahead of schedule" in his rehabilitation from the serious knee injury he sustained, and that he had visited St George's Park this weekend with a view to using the facilities there.

"In 12, 13 months from now, he will be putting his boots back on and getting back out there to do his stuff," he said.

Keogh's agent added that the defender is currently going through a very tough time.

"Richard is in a really bad way, it’s heartbreaking.

"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."

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