Saturday 14 December 2019

Happy ending to a story that shows Keane's compassionate side

New Celtic recruit Brandon Payne from Clondalkin with Roy Keane
New Celtic recruit Brandon Payne from Clondalkin with Roy Keane
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

FOR every Roy Keane interview which produces a grumpy anecdote that cements a caricature, there is a heartwarming story which reflects his genuine decency.

Last week, Clondalkin teenager Brandon Payne signed a three-year professional contract with Celtic.

His main feeling was relief given that he was originally supposed to sign for the Glasgow club in January by virtue of a pre-contract agreement which was scuppered when he broke his leg playing for Lucan United against Dundalk.

Payne had agents knocking on his door before that dark day but they disappeared in the immediate aftermath. It was the PFAI who started to look after him from that point, sending him to Dublin footballer Philly McMahon's strength and conditioning gym in Ballymun to build his fitness.

Then, they arranged via the FAI for Payne to sit down and meet Keane at the Irish team hotel in Malahide.

Ironically enough, this discussion took place in the week where Keane was torn over whether to move to Glasgow.

Yet he still found the time to spend an hour with the youngster, reminding him how many times that he was rejected in his youth. It perked up Payne's spirits - he scored in a match later that evening - and he will forever be grateful to Keane for the guidance that boosted flagging morale.

The Irish assistant was also a source of support to Gary O'Neill when the Drogheda United striker was diagnosed with testicular cancer, making a call out of the blue to offer help.

And a story has recently emerged about the Corkman extending a hand of friendship to his former Nottingham Forest team-mate Gary Charles when he spent time in prison following a rough period in his life.

When Charles was released, he took up an offer from Keane to stay with his family home in Sunderland and do some drills on the training ground which set him on the path towards a return to football as a scout. It's a side to Keane that's a world removed from the stereotype.

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