Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane has admitted that he contemplated an early retirement in 2001 after a defeat caused him to believe he couldn’t cope at the top level anymore.
Roy Keane said: “I lost my temper, we were losing 4-3, I think, in the last minute. If you’re going to get sent off, the worst thing is, I pushed him. If you’re going to get sent off you might as well punch him properly because you’re going to get the same punishment. You might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. That’s what I was thinking afterwards. It was just a push. It was ridiculous.”
Keane has revealed that the incident left him feeling like he was done at the top level and he even told manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he was done.
Roy Keane added: “I was fed up and annoyed with myself. Especially after the match. The gaffer never really had a go at me. I knew from his body language – ‘how much more, Roy?’ I saw him the next day and I said ‘I’ve had enough’ – and I meant it. I came back that night and I waited, didn’t sleep a wink. I spoke to Theresa [Keane’s wife] when I got back and she said ‘you’re mad’ and I said ‘I know that but…’ I never trained the Monday, or the Sunday, and he came round on the Monday in afternoon, and we had a good chat. He said ‘you’ll miss it’ and I was convinced I wouldn’t but I suppose deep, deep, very deep down of course I knew I would miss walking out at Old Trafford. I loved playing at Old Trafford and I loved playing for United. Full stop.”
United travelled to St James’ Park in the Premier League and were beaten 4-3 by Newcastle United, with Alan Shearer scoring a double to ensure they took all three points from the reigning champions. But the game is more remembered for a moment in the final minutes when Shearer and Keane clashed. The former United skipper threw the ball at Shearer when trying to take a throw in as his frustration at the looming defeat grew and when Shearer goaded him, the Irishman threw a punch. He didn’t make any contact, but it meant that the yellow card he was about to be shown was upgraded to a red and his embarrassment was maximised.
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