Saturday 17 February 2018

Vieira: I started infamous Highbury row with Keane

Nick Purewal

Patrick Vieira has revealed he started the infamous Highbury tunnel spat between Arsenal and Manchester United in February 2005.

Keane revealed he was incensed that Vieira picked on "weak link" Gary Neville, sparking a hostile exchange between the two bitter rivals at Highbury.

United went on to win the Premier League clash 4-2, with neither side punished for the fracas.

Vieira sheepishly admitted he caused the tunnel chaos in an ITV documentary, Keane and Vieira: The Best of Enemies, to be screened on Tuesday night.

"I started it," said the former France and Arsenal midfielder.

"I was cool, I was really calm, I was smiling at him - and then he lost it.

"When we played at Old Trafford his (Gary Neville's) tackling was flying on Robert Pires and he was doing it on purpose, and I said 'listen, we are not at Old Trafford here, this is Highbury'.

"So I said to him 'if you touch Robert, I will come after you'."

Former United midfielder Keane explained how he joined the assembled players waiting to take the pitch to find Vieira mid-flow with Neville.

Keane said: "When we were going out for the start of the game I had forgotten my armband, and when I came out I had seen you at the top of the tunnel having a go at Gary.

"What really annoyed me that night was that you were picking on Gary, you were almost picking on the weakest link, so that's what got my back up. There were two or three of you ganging up on Gary, simple as that."

Keane admitted he "hated" Arsenal at the peak of the sides' rivalry.

He said: "I had a lot of hatred for Arsenal because they were big rivals.

"I can't think of any other word that springs to mind when I was going into battle with Arsenal. Hatred was the word."

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