Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane says that playing in the League of Ireland was "a great education" for him.
The former Manchester United captain played for Cobh Ramblers in 1989 before joining Nottingham Forest in 1990 and said that the time he spent at the club had a positive influence on his career.
“Playing in the League of Ireland was a great education for me,” said Keane, who was speaking at the launch of Cork City's Patron Scheme at University College Cork. “I met some good lads, [it was] a tough league but it was great for me.
“When I went to Forest when I was 19, that experience in the League of Ireland was fantastic.”
At 19, Keane was relatively old leaving Ireland for a football career in England but the Cork native said that it suited him to cross the Irish Sea at that age, rather than doing so earlier.
However, when asked if he would encourage others to follow his lead by staying to play in Ireland's domestic league, Keane said that he understood that it was difficult for aspiring professionals to turn down an opportunity to play in England.
“I know it suited me (to stay and play in Ireland),” explained Keane. “I don't think it would have suited me to go over to England at 16 but I also understand that it's very hard for young players to turn it down when they have a chance to go over.”