Monday 18 February 2019

Roy Keane: Celtic told me job was mine but they didn't show how much they wanted me

Roy Keane has admitted he turned down the Celtic job because they didn't make him feel wanted enough.

The Ireland assistant manager was on the verge of leaving his role with Martin O'Neill for Celtic Park and had met with Celtic owner Dermot Desmond.

7 September 2014; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, and assistant manager Roy Keane, before the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, Georgia v Republic of Ireland. Boris Paichadze National Arena, Tbilisi, Georgia. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
7 September 2014; Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill, left, and assistant manager Roy Keane, before the game. UEFA EURO 2016 Championship Qualifer, Group D, Georgia v Republic of Ireland. Boris Paichadze National Arena, Tbilisi, Georgia. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

And while Keane was interested in the job, he feels that the Glasgow club didn't show that they wanted him enough.

"Celtic wanted me but they weren’t showing how much they wanted me," writes Keane in his new autobiography, The Second Half.

"I got a call: would I go and have a chat with Dermot Desmond? I’d met him once before, in 2005, when I was signing to play for Celtic.

"I met him for a cup of tea. It was in the middle of an international week, in Dublin.

"At the end of the chat, he said: 'The job is yours'.

Keane is a life-time Celtic fan and has said before that if Celtic offered you the manager's job, you would have to take it. But restrictions on who he could bring in as number two left Keane doubting the move.

"It was all pretty straightforward. There would be one or two restrictions, about staff. They had already picked the man who would be my assistant and they were insisting on him.

"It didn’t scare me off but it did get me thinking. It wasn’t an ideal start. Were they doubting me already?

"I came back to the team hotel and spoke to Martin (O’Neill). I told him I would have a think about it.

"We (the Republic of Ireland) had a game against Italy at Craven Cottage in London on the following Saturday.

"The fact I had spoken to Dermot Desmond had become public knowledge.

"It had to, because Martin had a press conference and a few things had been leaked — as usual.

"I was delighted. It was a massive compliment. Over the years, I had always said: 'If you’re offered the Celtic job, you don’t turn it down'.

"I was in a predicament ...and my gut feeling was saying: 'You’re on your own with this one'.

"I asked Paul Gilroy, the League Managers’ Association lawyer, to speak to Celtic to discuss terms. Money hadn’t been mentioned yet.

"I got in touch with Celtic’s chief executive, Peter Lawwell and asked him to give me a ballpark figure before negotiations got going.

"He mentioned a figure and he said: 'But that’s it'. Paul told me there were a lot of clauses in the contract that he wasn’t happy with. And the figures were non-negotiable.

"I got my head around that. But it felt a bit too familiar. I had been down this road before when I signed for Celtic as a player.

"I felt they wanted me but they weren’t showing how much they wanted me.

"We played Italy on the Saturday and I had a message on my phone on Sunday from Dermot Desmond.

"They wanted a heads-up by tomorrow, Monday.

"I thought about the Celtic offer. It wasn’t rocking my boat.

"They weren’t convincing me: 'Listen, you’re the man for us'.

"I went to Paul Gilroy’s house (on Sunday night). There were things I wasn’t happy with in the contract. But I know if you examined every clause too carefully, you would never sign anything.

"I rang Dermot Desmond on the Monday and said: 'I’m really honoured you offered me the job but I want to stay with Martin'."

But Keane did suggest that he would be the Celtic manager now had the club gone about their negotiations in a different manner.

However, the Corkman also emphasised the fact that working with Martin O'Neill has made him love the game again.

He added: "Had Celtic shown enough in their negotiating, 'we’ll move this, you can take that' — a bit of give and take — I might have hesitated.

"They just didn’t show me that they wanted me and I was happier staying in the Ireland job.

"Working with Martin had given me back a love of the game and I’m all for showing a bit of loyalty.

"I had only been in the job two minutes. We hadn’t played a competitive game yet.

"I felt powerful saying: 'No'. I felt good. But I wondered if I was making the right decision.

"Right job, wrong time."

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