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Roy Keane pays classy tribute to old rival Patrick Vieira


Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clash

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clash

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira clash

Roy Keane has proved once again that he is a different man off the football pitch as he praised old foe Patrick Vieira as 'one of the best he has ever faced'.

While Keane and Vieira were fierce rivals during their time at Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, there is a mutual respect for each and last night, when Vieira was was presented with the Football Writers' Association tribute award in London, Keane was full of praise for the Frenchman.

"I don't think we'll ever be bosom buddies buying each other a drink in the pub but out of everybody I ever faced as a player, he drove me to become better," said Keane.

"Obviously Arsenal were the team that really challenged Manchester United and, for a short time, went past us. And as their leader Patrick was immense.

"Without doubt I'd put him alongside Zidane, Scholes, Gerrard and Lampard as one of the very best I've ever played with or against, he was that good. On his day, when he was driving Arsenal on with the sheer force of his personality, he was unplayable."

The duo's most infamous spat came in the Highbury tunnel in 2005.

Writing in his new autobiogrphy, Keane said: "If it had come to a fight, Patrick could probably have killed me."

He claims to have been calm and collected prior to the incident but lost the plot when Gary Neville returned to the united dressingroom claiming that Vieira had been shouting at him.

“As I walked to the front I heard something going on at the top of the tunnel," he writes. "All I could see was a few fingers, pointing at Gary. I lost it. Five seconds earlier I'd been perfectly calm, in the zone, ready for the match.

“I'd thought they might have booted him out on the pitch. But in the tunnel? I just thought 'The f******'. They were trying to bully him. They were a big team and, in the tunnel, they were even bigger. So I said to myself 'Alright, let's go'.

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