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roy keane - captain fantastic
"Roy Keane is Damien, the devil incarnate off the film The Omen. He's evil. Even in training." - Ryan Giggs

Roy Keane began his footballing career with Cobh Ramblers before Brian Clough took him to Nottingham Forest as an 18 year old. His League debut with Nottingham Forest was a real baptism of fire away to Liverpool, the then champions. At the end of his first full season Keane made an appearance in the 1991 FA Cup Final, collecting a runners up medal.

His performances, however, had not gone unnoticed by the Republic of Ireland manager Jack Charlton, who gave him his first full international cap in May 1991. A season later he was again on the losing side again at Wembley, with Nottingham Forest losing 1-0 to Manchester United in the League Cup final. His luck with Nottingham Forest did not improve any as Forest got relegated the following season. In the close season the race for Roy Keane's signature began, with United emerging the victors paying a then club and English record fee of £3.75 million.

Whilst he has been at Manchester United, his ball winning skills, drive, determination and late runs into the box to score vital goals have made him an irreplaceable figure in United's midfield, so much so that he is often compared to the ex-United player Bryan Robson. He has helped United to win six Premier League Championships, including two doubles in 1994 and 1996 and is currently the team captain. He also participated in the 1994 World Cup Finals and is a regular international for the Republic of Ireland.

At the end of the 1996/97 season, when Eric Cantona retired from professional football, Keane took over the role of team captain. However less than two months into the season Keane injured his knee and spent a frustrating season on the sidelines.

Many pundits felt that towards the end of that season when United were faltering, it was his presence and determination which the team sorely missed, and in the end was a crucial factor in the championship ending up at Highbury. Fortunately for Manchester United, Keane fought his way back to full fitness to lead the team out, at Wembley, in the 1998 pre season Charity Shield.

If Keane's presence and quality was missed by all at United in the 1997/98 season, then it was surely missed by Ireland too. A full international, Keane participated in the 1994 World Cup finals in the USA and has played at International level for almost eight years. His injury in September 1997 coincided with Irelands Word Cup qualifying campaign. As United failed to win any silverware in his absence, Ireland failed to qualify for the 1998 World Cup finals in France.

The 1998/99 season saw Roy Keane fully restored to fitness. As the Club reached the climax of that unprecedented pursuit, Roy enjoyed mixed fortunes. A sending-off in the FA Cup semi-final replay was followed by a yellow card in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus, forcing him to miss the memorable final in Barcelona. He recovered from an ankle injury to play in the last League match versus Tottenham and collected the Premiership Trophy. The following week at Wembley, however, he sustained another ankle injury and was forced to give way to Teddy Sheringham in the early stages of the game, knowing that his season had ended there and then.

In Barcelona, despite Keane taking no active part in the match, the fans finally got their way during the post-match celebrations when they insisted on Roy taking his deserved bow with the Champions League trophy in front of the massed ranks.

Roy's contract negotiations fell under the media microscope midway through the 1999/2000 season, when it was revealed that the Club captain had turned down the Club's initial offer.

At the home Champions League match against Valencia, however, it was announced that Keane had signed a new deal. After that, Keane seemed to play with a weight lifted off his shoulders, and the captain led by example, as ever. Over the course of the season Keane found the net a remarkable twelve times, with half of those coming in Europe. A superb season from the skipper was recognised by both the Football Writers and the Professional Footballers Association, who both voted him Player of the Year.

Keane was arguably even more influential during season 2000/2001, leading the team to a seventh Championship title. On the international front he was also an inspiration, winning his 50th cap in the Republic's 4-0 win over Cyprus.

Roy's form helped the Republic qualify for the 2002 World Cup finals, despite being in a group containing both Portugal and Holland. Once out in the Far East, though, Roy caused the biggest story of the tournament before it had even begun. Following a row with manager Mick McCarthy, Keano was sent home in disgrace.

Newspapers were full of speculation as to what had happened, and reporters camped outside Roy's house. The media storm quickly passed, however, as Ireland progressed in the tournament.

After months of speculation Roy finally retired from international football on medical grounds. His autobiography - in which he explained what had happened in Saipan - caused problems as he also intimated he'd injured Manchester City's Alf Inge Haaland on purpose. A five-match ban and a large fine later, Roy checked into hospital for an operation on his hip that kept him out for the first five and a half months of the season.

Roy pledged to calm down on the pitch following his latest op, and his first few appearances after recovering had everyone questioning whether he was finished or not. A barn-storming end to the season, when he led United to the top of the League against all the odds, answered everyone's questions. "I've got two or three good years left in me yet," Roy reassured all his fans.




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