Alan Shearer on minor role he played in Roy Keane's decision not to join Blackburn
"He came back in with a face like ****ing thunder!"
Back in the summer of 1993, Roy Keane had a verbal agreement with Blackburn Rovers manager Kenny Dalglish to join the club from Nottingham Forest. It would be the first of two moments that could have ended with Keane and Alan Shearer being teammates.
There had been a "gentleman's agreement" with Keane and the former Liverpool player and manager. The midfielder put in a string of fine performances for Forest, but it was not enough to prevent their relegation to the Championship. The two-time European Cup winners ping-ponged between the top tiers for a stretch after that but have not played in the Premier League since 1999.
Around this time, Blackburn, financed by chairman Jack Walker, were building a team that could compete for league titles. Alan Shearer had been signed for £3.6m from Southampton in 1992 and, though affected by a knee injury, scored 22 goals in 26 appearances. He was back fully fit for the 1993/94 season, and Blackburn also brought in goalkeeper Tim Flowers, the versatile Paul Warhurst and midfielder David Batty.
Batty was signed from Leeds after Roy Keane left Dalglish stunned, then enraged, by deciding to join Manchester United. Most Irish football supporters will be aware of Keane having his mind changed after a one-to-one with then United boss Alex Ferguson. Dalglish later admitted he told Keane, "You've made a bad move."
Ferguson had been the manager who knocked Liverpool off 'their ****ing perch' and both he and Dalglish had a healthy rivalry. There was respect there, too, says Shearer, but the two Scots loved getting one up on the other.
During an episode of 'Match of the Day: Top 10', Alan Shearer revealed the minor role he played in the night Dalglish found out Ferguson had snatched Keane from under his nose.
Alan Shearer on furious Kenny Dalglish reaction
The Match of the Day episode, another enjoyable run-through with Gary Lineker as host and guests Micah Richards and Alan Shearer, focused on top 10 managerial rivalries.
"There was huge respect between them. Two giants of football," Shearer began. "but, I mean, Kenny used to take the piss, all the time, out of Sir Alex [Ferguson], and Sir Alex used to do the same.
"Not long after I signed for Blackburn, I was out in a restaurant with Kenny and his family. Kenny went out on the phone and I thought, 'Okay, he must be doing a little bit of business'. And he comes back in with this huge grin on his face.
"And I said, 'Oh, someone's happy'. And Kenny said, 'I think we've done a deal to get Roy Keane to Blackburn'. I said, 'Really?'
"And then, about two hours later and after him celebrating with a couple of glasses of red wine, he's gone back outside. And he came back in with a face like ****ing thunder!
"He said, 'We lost him, he's gone. Fergie's got him'.
"Oh my God, he was seething. So it could have been oh so different."
Keane was an instant success at United and helped them to a league and FA Cup double in his first season there. Shearer and Dalglish got a small measure of revenge by pipping United to the league title in 1994/95, but Ferguson, as he so often did in his managerial career, made some bold calls and reeled off further league wins in 1996 and 1997, as Blackburn began to falter.
Shearer was the one that left Ferguson seething, in 1996, when he turned down Manchester United for the second time, this time opting to join Newcastle United for £15m. Shearer and Keane had a few run-ins over the years, with the Ireland midfielder once seeing red for having a go at Shearer at St James' Park.
The full Alan Shearer clip is below, and forgive the MOTD Twitter admin for the excitement over a story Irish football fans know all about.
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) May 2, 2022
As for Kenny Dalglish, he eventually cooled down and memorably collared Keane at a function they were both at.
During a charity event, in 2018, that both Keane and the former Liverpool and Blackburn boss appeared at, Dalglish said, "The next time I saw you, you'd won about three [league championships], a European Cup. I said, 'I told you you'd made a mistake!'"
"At that stage," Dalglish added, "given the history of Manchester United, where would you go? Where would you move?"