Kevin Kilbane has dismissed claims by Sir Alex Ferguson that Roy Keane was not a success as a manager.
Keane, along with Martin O'Neill and Mick McCarthy, has emerged as a candidate for the vacant Republic of Ireland managerial role and Kilbane believes that the former Manchester United captain's exploits as manager of Sunderland deserve recognition.
The former Ireland international steered the Black Cats into the Premier League in 2007 in what was his first stint as manager and kept the club in the division the following season before resigning in December 2008.
"I saw Alex Ferguson saying Roy wasn't a success as a manager. How can you say he wasn't a success? He took a team from the bottom of the Championship and got them promoted," Kilbane told the Irish Examiner.
"Regardless of what finances he had, that is an incredible achievement. I've played in that league and I know how difficult it is to get out of it. He got them up and kept them up as well.
"I know they finished 17th [sic] and that probably didn't meet Roy's expectations of what he wanted to do but he's been a wonderful success.
"And he's Irish and he wants the best for the players. So why would people rule him out? He's a great footballing man and wants the best for Irish football. That for me is the most important thing."
Meanwhile, another Ireland managerial candidate, Mick McCarthy, has made light of enquiries by the media about whether there had been any change in the "Ireland situation."
"No, it's still in the same place," joked the Ipswich Town boss when asked. "Just across from Liverpool and Manchester. If you're going to go and visit it there are flights from Stansted and Southend, Aer Lingus or Ryanair."
However, Kilbane was sympathetic towards the former Boys in Green boss, who guided the team to the second round of the 2002 World Cup, acknowledging that he was in "a difficult position."
"It must be so difficult for Mick. He's in a difficult position. If [the FAI] want Mick they should go and do it now," he told reporters.
"We all accept that we want it done right and done thoroughly, but I would have preferred a manager to be in place for the next round of friendlies.
"Mick's a great guy, a great manager, a great footballing man, a great coach, he's got all the all-round package and he's got experience as well."