Sunday 25 February 2018

We're not little boys, we can handle Roy Keane, says David Forde

Ireland goalkeeper Forde believes players will have no problems dealing with Keane 'hairdryer'

Garry Doyle

David Forde has strongly defended Roy Keane's appointment as Martin O'Neill's No 2, less than 24 hours after Liam Brady delivered a stinging criticism of the Corkman's managerial credentials.

Using his platform as a television pundit to openly dismiss Keane's suitability for the job, Brady claimed the former Sunderland and Ipswich Town manager had a disastrous relationship with his players.

Forde, however, begs to differ. The Ireland goalkeeper has spent the best part of a week texting other squad members to discuss how the O'Neill-Keane dynamic might work and insists the feedback has been positive.

"There is a good vibe among us all," said Forde, "and it will be fascinating to see how this will all unfold, how these two men, legends of Irish football, will bring their European Cup-winning experiences into our dressing-room.

"It's exciting. This is precisely the thing Irish football needed after the previous regime and while I don't want that interpreted as a dig at Giovanni Trapattoni, because he is a man I have the utmost respect for, the arrival of Martin and Roy represents a fresh start.

"Roy is a strong character, a passionate and driven man who is not afraid to air his opinions. That's great. Anyone who has ever shouted at me has served to motivate me. We are grown men – not little boys and can handle a manager or an assistant manager speaking passionately to us. Personally, I'm delighted to have both on board and from chatting to other players, that feeling is shared."


Whether it is by Jon Walters, Paul McShane, Anthony Stokes and Damien Delaney – men who suffered under Keane's tutelage at Ipswich and Sunderland – remains to be seen. Beyond this quartet, though, lie a group of players who are hungry to achieve and view the hype generated by Keane's temper as a source of hilarity.

One Irish player, who wished to remain anonymous, yesterday said: "For goodness sake, this is a football dressing-room we're talking about – not an episode of 'Love/Hate'. There is nothing to be scared of here. We're football people. If someone shouts at us, we can deal with it. We've been dealing with this sort of thing all our careers. It'll be nothing new."

Certainly, Forde isn't daunted by the prospect of hearing the Keane 'hairdryer' going off. After all, he plays for Millwall.

"You stand in a goal in the Championship and behind you opposing fans abuse you the whole time. That's football. It is the environment we are used to, an environment where people fall out with one another week to week, month to month – because it is such a passionate game.

"You have to remember, we're professionals. To get to this level, you have to develop a mental strength, an ability to handle pressure, to go into an arena and not be afraid. There is no one in the Irish dressing-room who has not been the subject of criticism at some point in their career, no one who has not experienced some form of rejection. The point is – we're able to take it."

Taking it from Keane won't disturb Forde. In fact, he has already drawn inspiration from a man whose ability to progress from League of Ireland journeyman status to Champions League winner, kept Forde focussed during the darker days of his career.

"There was a time, when I was younger, when I wondered if I would be able to be in the position I am in today," he said. "West Ham had let me go and I didn't know if I would make it.

"But there are a couple of reasons why you never give up hope. One is because you develop a self-belief as you get older and you learn to keep staring forward. And then, you look at men like Roy Keane. His story struck a chord with me. He never got the caps at underage level for Ireland that he should have – and he played for Cobh Ramblers in the League of Ireland, just as I played for Galway and Derry City.

"You look at his story, the way he fought his way to the top and you think, 'it's possible'. His story made me think I could get a break.

"And when you look at the Irish dressing-room, and you look at a lot of players who have fought their way up from the lower leagues, you realise that Roy Keane has a lot in common with us. He is a winner. We want that type of person on our side."

And lest we forget, Keane won't be the only Irishman on side, because amid the hype, it's also worth remembering the FAI also named a manager this week to accompany their assistant.

"Martin O'Neill is a superb choice," says Forde. "You think of what he achieved at Celtic, taking them to the Uefa Cup final in 2003 and how he transformed Leicester into double-cup winners and you realise you are dealing with a man of immense talent.

"I met him in 2006 when Derry City had their European run and we were beating Gothenburg and Gretna before Paris Saint-Germain came to the Brandywell. Martin was there for our home games. He spoke to us then – and there was an aura there, a presence.

"There is no denying he is a man with huge character, a motivational speaker who we are all looking forward to working with."

Including Keane.

Irish Independent

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