"I race over to stop him from falling off his chair" - Delaney's shock when he heard O'Neill wanted Keane
Martin O'Neill says he almost had to stop John Delaney falling off his chair when he told him the news.
It's no secret that Delaney and Roy Keane had their differences down through the years so when O'Neill told the FAI CEO, in 2013, that the Cork man was going to be his right-hand-man in his role as ROI manager, it's hardly any surprise that Delaney bore a perplexed look.
"At this utterance I race over to stop him from falling off his chair," O'Neill recalls, in his new Book 'On Days Like These: My Life in Football'.
Delaney and Keane never really saw eye-to-eye. It was in Saipan when their relationship first turned sour but, in the mean-time, there was never any evidence of a bridge being built.
Keane unloaded on Delaney in 2009 when, after Thierry Henry's controversial hand-ball, the FAI made an appeal to FIFA to become the competition's 33rd team.
"It is the usual FAI reaction -'we've been robbed,' 'the honesty of the game," Keane said at the time.
"They can complain all they want. That is not going to change anything. France are going to the World Cup–get over it . They want sympathy as usual. It is the usual carry on and it is boring.
"Get over it."
Martin O'Neill picks up the story in 2013, when he first mentioned to Delaney that Keane was his man.
"John and Roy have famously had a few differences and his immediate facial expression suggests he might fear a déjà vu situation.
"In fact, once he regains his composure he jests with a broad grin: 'We'd better batten down the hatches then.'"
"Roy and I have recently worked together as pundits covering Champions League games," O'Neill continued.
"We once talked about international management and wondered — if the opportunity ever arose — whether working together would be appealing.
"Roy is a very intelligent man, erudite and easy company. His passion and commitment I take for granted. But in our conversations, he also spoke very thoughtfully about the game with an acute tactical insight that captured my attention."
O'Neill and Keane went onto manage Ireland for five years from 2013 to 2018, and led them to the last sixteen of the European championships in 2016, when they were beaten by France. They left their jobs in 2018 'by mutual agreement.'