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10th Nov 2023

“He deserved that” – Roy Keane on why he elbowed Jason McAteer

Lee Costello

Roy Keane

“I didn’t deserve to be sent off.”

Former Man United captain Roy Keane has been sent off a number of times in his career, but one incident against his Ireland teammate Jason McAteer is often brought up again.

The two were colleagues when on international duty and played alongside each other for their country on numerous occasions, but there was no love lost between them at club level.

During the 2003/04 season, United were playing Sunderland in a Premier League tie when Keane was deemed to have deliberately thrown an elbow at McAteer, and received a red card for the offence.

Speaking on the latest episode of Stick to Football the Irishman showed no remorse for the incident and went as far as claiming that the defender “deserved it.”

On the show Gary Neville, Jill Scott, and Ian Wright were working their way through Keane’s sending offs, and when they came to this particular incident, the cork native made his stance on the issue very clear.

“Sent off in injury time in a one-all draw for elbowing Jason McAteer, following a number of heated exchanges throughout the game,” Neville read aloud.

“He deserved that,” replied Keane bluntly.

Neville continued: “He was your Irish teammate and colleague…”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Keane interjected.

“Were you mates or not?” asked Scott. “Absolutely not,” replied the Sky Sports pundit. “Just because you play with someone doesn’t mean you’re mates. Do you know what, he was one of these players who shout their mouths off.

“I didn’t mind lads kicking me or booting me, honestly, but McAteer as usual had plenty to say for himself. But even then, I didn’t deserve to be sent off in that game, absolutely not.

“If you look back on it, I didn’t even catch him.”

Jason McAteer admits that he knew “what buttons to press to wind up” Roy Keane.

Speaking with The Big Interview earlier this year, McAteer relieved the incident himself and gave his version of events as he saw it.

“As we get into our later careers I knew what button to press to wind him up. I just knew how to get to him.

“I think that Sunderland – Man United game I got in his head. I really got in his head.

“Like I said it was all about winning. I said a few things to him to gain an advantage. I gained that advantage. I set the equaliser up and he ended up elbowing me in the side of the head and getting himself sent off.

“I walked off smiling and felt like the job was done.”

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