Former Republic of Ireland captain has no regrets over his omission from the World Cup a decade ago and spoke the boys in green's chances at Euro 2012Roy Keane has blasted suggestions that former Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy ended his World Cup before it began in 2002 by sending his captain home.
Keane, speaking in Dublin on a pr commitment for Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, spoke candidly about the infamous bust-up in Saipan ten years ago. The then Manchester United skipper didn't play in the World Cup after a furious row with McCarthy which led to his departure from the squad before the tournament started.
"Mick sent me nowhere. I told him where to go. What? Do you think Mick McCarthy said to me, ‘I’m sending you home’?" said Keane.
When quizzed that McCarthy had said 'I decided to send him home' back in 2002, Keane was emphatic: “That’s not true. Was this the press conference that was done within half an hour of the private meeting with, what’s his name, the lad who organised the media? Piss-up in brewery springs to mind, but there you go."
The retired midfielder, who now works in the media, said that after a decade he has more of an understanding of the job McCarthy faced. After quitting playing in 2006 the Corkman went on to manage Sunderland and Ipswich but has been out of work since being sacked by the Tractor Boys in early 2011.
"In defence of Mick, what was going on was a joke," he said of Saipan 2002.
"I know when I became a manager myself I appreciated what a hard job it is. So for Mick to have had to organise even the training grounds, you’d have to go over and have a look at them and so on. And I’m sure that was part of the build up of pressure with all of us. When you’re a manager, trying to get footballers is hard enough, without having to make sure there’s footballs and training kits there.
Ahead of Ireland's first appearance at a major tournament in a decade, Keane said he was glad to see a more upbeat mood from the team and added that James McClean should make the squad.
"Personally I’d throw him in there. I know he’s young, but sometimes it doesn’t matter. He affects the game. He scores goals, he gets assists, he’s got a good attitude," he said of the Sunderland ace.
He added: “There’ve been good noises coming out of camp, like from John O’Shea, ‘we want to make an impact, we want to do well’ – that’s great, instead of ‘let’s go over there and enjoy ourselves’.”