Tuesday 13 November 2018

LISTEN: 'I let people off lightly' - Roy Keane shatters myths over his infamous World Cup fall-out with Mick McCarthy

Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy fell out before the 2002 World Cup. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy fell out before the 2002 World Cup. Photo: SPORTSFILE
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Roy Keane has given a passionate interview reflecting on the infamous events that led to his expulsion from the Ireland World Cup squad in 2002, with his anger over the incident still simmering 16 years later.

Keane infamously left the Ireland camp in Saipan after a furious row with manager Mick McCarthy, but he has insisted suggestions he walked out on his country a few days before the World Cup over missing training bids and footballs is a myth.

Instead, he confirmed in an ITV Sport podcast that the root of his fall-out with McCarthy came over accusations he fabricated injuries to miss international matches, as he opened up in an interview with Mark Pougatch.

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Roy Keane with a word of warning for England

"What made me angry and disappointed is when you get accused of something by your manager in front of a group of players, you're going to react. I reacted," stated Keane.

"As a senior player and captain, I felt they were lies. I was accused of faking an injury and not being available for a match when I was injured.

"It was a really strange time to bring it up and it wasn't true. If you make those kind of accusations against me, have a guess what is going to happen. Like a lot of players, I played far too many games when I was injured.

"To have that thrown at me was really strange. The timing of it and in front of a group of players, let me tell you, you are going to get fireworks. I would expect that from any player, particular a senior player. There you go."

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24 May 2002; The former Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane prior to his departure from Saipan International Airport. Picture credit; David Maher / SPORTSILE *EDI*

Keane insisted there was 'no way back' once he returned to the UK following the fall-out, as he confirmed he would have only returned to the Ireland squad if he received an apology from McCarthy.

"I was disappointed it happened, the way in panned out. I know there are two sides to every story," he added.

"There was a lot of talk when we got over there about the facilities. That was well documented. I was disappointed at no bibs, balls, cones and it really irritated me because if it happened to Brazil or Germany there would have been uproar.

"If there was an apology, possibly I would have gone back. If you spoke to Mick or some of the other staff, they might have another side of it. I know it takes two to tango. But that's what happened.

"Once I left the hotel, the team had left, the damage was done. If an apology came my way or if [they said] it was a mishap, things could have been different. Once I landed back in Ireland, the damage was done. I couldn't go back working with a manager that probably felt that about me.

"Strangely enough, nobody ever made these accusations against me when I was playing and we were winning matches and qualifying. The timing was just really strange, particularly in front of the staff and players.

"To be accused of missing a game because of an injury I supposedly didn't have, believe it or not I let people off lightly. There could have been a lot more trouble shall we say.

"I've always said I've never lost a wink of sleep over how I reacted to the accusations that were made against me. I'd love to have played in another World Cup, of course I would have, that's what the game is all about. But it wasn't to be. I look back and don't regret any of my actions. That's the way it goes."

You can listen to the podcast here:

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