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08th Jan 2023

Roy Keane blanched at Haaland observation during Tommy Tiernan appearance

Patrick McCarry

“The stories I’ve heard… and I haven’t done a fierce amount of digging into it… “

Throw a contentious topic at Roy Keane and you better have done at least a bit of digging into it. Keane told Tommy Tiernan that he quickly moved on from his playing days, but he still has bite when a skeleton is taken from the closet.

Keane sat down with the Meath comedian, and TV host, for a recent, pre-recorded appearance on The Tommy Tiernan Show. The concept is simple and often works well in Tiernan’s hands – he has no clue about who he is about to interview so none of the questions or observations are pre-planned.

For parts, the interview went well as Tiernan broached subjects that Keane does not often speak on much. There was some give – nice anecdotes about Cork and his wife, Theresa – and some stone-walling. When Keane did not offer up one thing that he found difficult about raising five children [four daughters and a son], Tiernan exclaimed:

“You’re f***ing kidding me, are ya?”

Like many in Ireland, Tommy Tiernan has a broad interest in sport. He would not be profess to be an expert on any one sport but knows a little about a lot. In digging into some of the big stories from Keane’s past, though, her hit a gigantic stumbling block.

Roy Keane

Roy Keane revisits Haaland incident

During the interview, which stretched across two parts in the show, Roy Keane demurred when Tommy Tiernan sought to drive home what a top quality player the former Manchester United and Ireland captain had been.

Keane insisted that he had been surrounded by truly world-class players and men that he would gladly go to battle with. He was merely the captain of a team of self-driven and extremely talented players. That was his steely-eyed contention.

Tiernan thankfully left all talk of Saipan and the 2002 World Cup to one side but he did revisit Keane’s two autobiographies – he regrets doing the first, with Eamon Dunphy, as he was still playing – and the red card he received for a nasty foul on Manchester City’s Alf-Inge Haaland.

Keane received two bans for the incident – the first for the red card offence and the second for admitting, in that book with Dunphy, that he had wanted to hurt Haaland with the challenge.

As soon as Tiernan started to circle around the matter, Keane was on red alert.

KEANE: It seemed a bit more dramatic than it was, actually. I don’t think it was as bad as….

TIERNAN: Haaland had said to you were faking a particular injury [in 1997] and half-way through a match, you cleaned him out of it and said, ‘Don’t ever say that about me again’, more or less. And he was buckled for how long?

KEANE: He wasn’t. What do you mean?

TIERNAN: How long was he injured for?

KEANE: I don’t think he was injured.

TIERNAN: How come… there’s a story that he never walked again! That was the story. That he never played again.

KEANE: Well, he played three days later – an international match – but why let the truth get in the way of a good story. He played three or four days later. He was fine.

What followed was a six second pause, which honestly felt twice as long, as Tommy Tiernan mulled his next question and Roy Keane stared at him. When it came, it was about what he gets up to on his trips back to Cork.

Roy Keane

The Keane-Haaland urban legend

Tommy Tiernan, as interviewing Keane was a surprise to him, did not have reams of research done and was, thus, only pulling the thread on something that has almost become the urban legend of that Haaland and Keane clash – that the tackle was a career-ender.

There was legal action threatened against Keane, not long after his admission in the book with Dunphy, but the Norwegian had already been struggling with his left knee when that game (in April 2001) came about. Haaland did play 45 minutes in a Norway friendly, days after that United vs. City game, and he played 68 minutes of City’s next league match.

Keane had stamped down on Haaland’s right thigh, but it was his left knee that was causing him a lot of pain and distress. Haaland only made four substitute appearances in the 2001/02 season, none the following season and retired in 2003. He played only six games after that coming together with Keane so many linked the foul and the retirement as being somehow connected.

Alfie Haaland came out of retirement in 2011 and played three seasons with smaller clubs in the Norwegian fourth and fifth divisions before re-retiring in 2013. His son, Erling, now plays for Manchester City and is hurtling towards a Premier League golden boot in his first season with the club.

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