Wednesday 13 December 2017

Today is the 15th anniversary of the most infamous tackle of them all

Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Today marks the 15th anniversary of one of the most infamous challenges in Premier League history, with Roy Keane’s ‘assault’ on Alf Inge Haaland still talked about to this day.

Manchester United captain Keane was eager to gain revenge on Haaland after the Norwegian star taunted the Irishman after he reputed his knee ligaments in an incident at Elland Road four years earlier.

Haaland was a Leeds player as he stooped down to shout abuse at Keane as he writhed on the floor in pain, with that incident leaving a mark on the United skipper in the years that followed.

Haaland’s move to Manchester City brought the duo back together in the heat of a local derby at Old Trafford on April 21st 2001, with Keane’s act of violence leading to an inevitable red card handed out by referee David Elleray.

Keane initially received a three-match ban and a £5000 fine from the FA for the challenge, but was subsequently banned for a further five matches and fined £150,000 after he spoke about the incident in his first book.

"I’d waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***," he recalled in his autobiography in 2002. "I didn't wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room."

Keane was offered the chance to offer some clarity on the incident in his second book, but remained unforgiving.

"There are things I regret in my life and he’s not one of them," wrote Keane. "What goes around, comes around. He got his just rewards. My attitude is an eye for an eye."

Haaland did not complete another game in his professional career after the Keane tackle, although there is debate over whether the injuries he suffered as a result are the reason why he never played the game at the same level again.

“The worst thing about what he did and what he wrote in his book is the example that it set to young kids who follow big-name players like him. They see these things and they think it’s okay,” Haaland said in a Daily Mail interview in 2008.

“I played in central midfield, I had run-ins with people every week, but at the end of the game you shake hands and the problems stay on the field. That is what should have happened between me and him.

“I just hope now that he is different. He is now in charge of players and as a manager and coach has different responsibilities.

“Football is a sport and it should remain a sport. There is a line that should not be crossed and I presume that he - and his players - know this now.”

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