Roy Keane: Alex Ferguson wanted me to have number 7 jersey ahead of David Beckham

Manchester United's David Beckham (R) celebrates scoring against Sunderland with captain Roy Keane (L) during their English premier league match at Old Trafford, Manchester, February 2, 2002. REUTERS/Ian Hodgson

Roy Keane has claimed in his new book that Alex Ferguson tried to convince him to take over the number 7 shirt at Old Trafford after Eric Cantona retired because he didn't want David Beckham to have it.

Keane took over the captain's armband after the influential Frenchman hung up his boots, but in his book 'The Second Half', Keane claims that Fergie also wanted him to take over the number 7 shirt.

Keane declined the offer and Beckham, who had worn the number 10 shirt in the season before took over.

Keane wrote: "The captaincy is important, but squad numbers can have an importance. At United, ‘7’ was the iconic number.

"When Eric Cantona left there was a debate about who was going to be the next captain. I was quite relaxed about it.

"But there was his number, too - '7'. Bryan Robson had had it before Cantona and, of course, it went back to Georgie Best.

"The manager pulled me into his office and said that he wanted me to wear the '7'.

"I said, ‘No, I’m not that bothered.'

"And he said, "I know Becks will f****** want it and I don’t want him to have it."

"The little power battles.

"I’d had ‘16’ since I’d signed for the club. I was comfortable with ‘16’. I think it might have kept me on my toes, being outside the ‘1’ to ‘11’. I didn’t think that I was a number ‘7’.

"I said, ‘Give it to Becks.’

"Becks got it, and it suited him - and Cantona. Ronaldo had it after Becks."