From Shunning Savage To Getting Clipped By Clough: Roy Keane's Best Quotes

Keane turns 52 on Thursday, and he remains a source of sensational quotes
15:00, 10 Aug 2023

Roy Keane is celebrating his 52nd birthday on Thursday, and the Premier League legend maintains a high profile in the game thanks not just to his fabulous football career but also his particular brand of wit and wisdom.

Keane has been a goldmine for brilliant quips and phrases over the years as he is so wonderfully outspoken and says everything he feels about what he sees. Here are some of his absolute best.

“The amount of fights I’ve had in Cork would probably be another book. I mean, people go on about my problems off the field, but they don’t even know the half of it.”

This was the former midfielder referring to his days as a youngster in Cork, where he says he got into trouble on a regular basis. From what we have seen from Keane over the years, this isn’t at all surprising and if he were to write another book about this particular chapter of his life, there would certainly be a big audience for it.

“You were the only right-back at the club, to be fair. We were stuck with you!”

This was a banterous exchange with fellow Sky Sports pundit and former Manchester United teammate Gary Neville when Neville was talking about Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team rotation back in December 2020. He got plenty of laughs from his colleagues including Neville and Micah Richards and there were definitely chuckles from the viewers at home.

“If OIe walked in here now I'd grab him by the [collar] and say 'why are you playing Fred?'”

During the final weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign as Man United boss. Brazilian midfielder Fred has had his fair share of criticism since he moved to Old Trafford, but Keane took the criticism to a whole new level. The best thing about this particular quote is that the Irishman wasn’t joking and if Solskjaer did happen to be in the room at that moment, he would have been in for a terrifying telling off.


“The last song before the players went on to the pitch was ‘Dancing Queen’ by Abba. What really worried me was that none of the players – not one – said: ‘Get that s**t off.’ They were going out to play a match, men versus men, testosterone levels were high.

“You’ve got to hit people at pace. F*cking Dancing Queen! It worried me. I didn’t have as many leaders as I thought.”

This line came from Keane talking about when he was last in charge of Sunderland, so if any of the current crop of Black Cats stars are including ABBA in their pre-match mix, you may want to edit that playlist. It would be interesting to know what kind of songs Keane would pick as being suitable for a pre-match playlist, but we can definitely write off the Swedish pop group.

“People said Ferguson always had the best interests of Manchester United at heart. Darren Ferguson [his son] won a medal. He was very lucky.

“His brother was the chief scout for Manchester United for a long time. I’m surprised his wife wasn’t involved in the staff somewhere.”

Sir Alex Ferguson is a Manchester United legend but from this excerpt it would be fair to assume that he and Keane weren’t the best of pals. The pair achieved great things working together but from these remarks it seems Keane wasn’t a huge fan of certain recruitment at Old Trafford.


“Who do you think you are, having meetings about me? You were a crap player and you are a crap manager. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country and you’re not even Irish you English ****!”

This was Keane ripping into his then Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy before he was expelled from the 2002 World Cup. This is probably one of the standout quotes that would showcase the Irishman’s hot-headed temper. Keane was dissatisfied with Ireland’s preparation for the tournament and particularly with McCarthy’s methods, and he told him exactly what he thought about him.

“I’ve got my kids [tattooed] on my right arm: Shannon, Caragh, Aidan and Leah… The wife did ask me why I didn't get hers and I said ‘they’ll always be my kids but you won’t necessarily always be my wife,’ which she wasn’t too pleased about.”

It may not be football-related but this particular quote just once again sums up the 'dealing in facts' plus 'dealing in realism' sense that Keane often imbues.

“I got Robbie’s mobile number and rang him. It went to his voicemail: ‘Hi, it’s Robbie – whazzup!’ Like the Budweiser ad. I never called him back. I thought: ‘I can’t be f*cking signing that.’”

Back when Keane was manager at Sunderland as a rookie boss, he was considering signing midfielder Robbie Savage, but the Welshman’s voicemail message turned Keane off. What might have been if Savage had a more mature voicemail message?

“Cloughie was dead right [to hit me], absolutely. It was the best thing he ever did for me.”

Brian Clough was a legendary figure of English football and, like Keane, he was very outspoken and didn’t stand for any nonsense. Keane was managed by Clough at Nottingham Forest in what was his first step into English football from his homeland, bringing over his reckless behaviour from Cork. That was literally whacked out of him by Clough, and Roy was pleased the manager did it!


“You’re going to war. Hugging and kissing?!!! Don’t even look at them. You’re going to battle against them!

“The game hasn’t changed that much, the players have. Maybe chat to them after the game. Actually, don’t even chat to them after the game.”

Here, Keane was talking about Manchester United and Liverpool players being pally before a match. Historically, there is a huge rivalry between the two clubs and it was quite clear that Keane was disgusted with the images he was seeing in the tunnel. Football has changed a lot since the days he graced the pitch, but did have a point this time?


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