Mythbuster: Did Roy Keane end Alf-Inge Haaland's career?

Roy Keane Manchester United
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Erling's father was on the receiving end of one of the most infamous fouls in football history, an act of revenge four years in the making

Alf-Inge Haaland never had the profile his son Erling Braut is currently enjoying.

As Graeme Souness recently quipped on Virgin Media, "[Erling's] mother must have been a good player because his dad was a plodder!"

In fairness to the senior Haaland, he was a Norway international good enough to spend the majority of his career playing in England, for Nottingham Forest, Leeds United and Manchester City.

However, the former midfielder is best known to Premier League fans as being on the receiving end of one of the most infamous fouls in football history.

Indeed, many believe that Roy Keane ended Haaland's career.

The challenge in question took place on April 21, 2001, when United hosted City in a Manchester Derby at Old Trafford.

However, this was a tale of revenge that had its origins in an injury sustained by Keane four years earlier.

On September 27, 1997, Keane's United travelled to Elland Road for a game with hated rivals Leeds.

As the Irishman subsequently admitted himself, he was in no fit state to play, having been involved in a drunken row at Chester Street Hotel just two days previously.

He started, though, and unsurprisingly struggled, both with his hangover and Haaland.

"He was winding me up from the beginning of the game," Keane wrote in his 2002 autobiography.

"Five minutes from time... I lunged forward at Haaland. I was trying to trip him rather than kick him. I knew it would probably mean a booking but, f*ck it, he'd done my head in."

However, in lashing out at Haaland, Keane actually injured himself, snapping the cruciate ligament in his left leg.

Neither player knew this at the time, but Haaland – along with Leeds team-mate David Wetherall – made an immediate beeline for Keane and accused him of faking injury as he lay prone on the turf.

Roy Keane Alf Inge Haaland

With United having already used all of their substitutes, Keane tried in vain to continue but he wouldn't play again that season.

And then, nothing. Or so it seemed. Haaland and Keane would share a pitch on several occasions over the next four years and those games passed without any clashes between the pair, even after the former had joined Manchester City.

However, in the closing stages of the 2000-01 season, Keane suddenly – and viciously – decided to settle a score.

“I’d waited long enough," Keane wrote.

With four minutes of the derby remaining, the United captain caught Haaland flush on the right knee with a horrendous studs-up challenge.

"I f*cking hit him hard," Keane admitted. "The ball was there (I think). Take that you c*nt."

David Elleray promptly issued a straight red card to an almost disinterested Keane, who walked off the field, but not before bending over the prone Haaland to say, "Don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal Wetherall there’s some for him as well."

It was Keane who disclosed what he had said; Haaland had actually remained tight-lipped on that particular aspect of the incident.

"It's funny: since 1997, he's never once looked me in the eye," Haaland told reporters at the time. "There are always hard fouls in a game like this, but that was well over the top.

"I won't tell you what he said to me. Let's just say it wasn't very nice. I'm only glad my leg was off the ground; otherwise he would have done me a lot of damage.

"I must upgrade my insurance the next time we play Manchester United."

Keane was fined £5,000 ($6,100) and suspended for three games for his dismissal. However, after admitting in his autobiography that his foul was an act of retribution, he was fined an additional £150,000 ($184,000) by the Football Association (FA) and banned for a further five games.

They had found Keane guilty of two counts of bringing the game into disrepute. The first related to the foul, which was deemed to have been "improperly motivated, with an apparent element of revenge".

The second charge related to Keane "allegedly publishing for financial profit or reward" an account of the incident in his autobiography.

He later admitted that he was "hurt" by the idea that he had tried to injury a fellow professional "in the hope of selling some extra books”.

Roy Keane Alf-Inge Haaland Manchester United City

However, even then, he expressed no remorse for the challenge.

"[Haaland] was an absolute pr*ck to play against," he wrote in another book, 'Second Half', which was published in 2014. "Niggling, sneaky. I did want to nail him and let him know what was happening.

"I wanted to hurt him and stand over him and go: 'Take that, you c*nt.' I don’t regret that. But I had no wish to injure him."

The myth persists, though, that Keane not only injured Haaland, but also ended his career.

However, Haaland finished the game in question and also played half of a Norway friendly four days later before racking up 68 minutes of Leeds' next league game.

He did undergo surgery that summer but it was on his left knee – rather than his right.

Haaland was ultimately forced to retire due to injury in 2003 and when later asked about the last impacting of Keane's challenge, Haaland told the Daily Mail, “The knee still hurts, that isn’t going to go away. I have to accept that.

"Did that tackle end my career? Well, I never played a full game again, did I? It seems like a great coincidence, don’t you think?"

However, despite talk of a court case, Haaland never took legal action and, in 2014, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I don’t blame him for kicking me in other games or that particular game.

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"What I was concerned and worried about is that he said, in his first book, that he wanted to take revenge. And I don’t think that’s part and parcel of football."

He then added: "I don’t blame him. I never actually said he finished my career. It was my last full game in England, so maybe he had something to do with it."

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that while Keane may be guilty of many things, ending Haaland's career isn't one of them.

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