Friday, May 12, 2006
The Keane Factor – A legacy of lasting impact!
Almost 70,000 fans packed Old Trafford to say goodbye to United legend Roy Keane. The Reds beat Celtic 1-0 in their former skipper's testimonial on an emotional night in Manchester. It was the perfect way to bid farewell to a man described by Sir Alex Ferguson as his 'best ever player'.
After the game, Keano admitted: "I'm grateful to both clubs, the players and of course the supporters. It surprised me how much I enjoyed it! Coming back finished things off nicely and it was a great occasion."
And with that it was over, Roy left to a standing ovation as every man, women and child stood up and applauded arguably Manchester United’s greatest player and Irish sports greatest export.
Strangely Keano’s reputation is greater in his adopted home then in his native land. There is certainly a generation of Irish soccer fans who were never and will never be able to forgive him for walking out in Saipan.
Personally, I have always stood behind him, I supported him in Saipan and I supported him in October when he tackled his Manchester teamates mediocre efforts. Whether in the grand scheme of things Roy was right or wrong when he walked out of the World Cup it was his actions during those crazy hours that have defined not only Roy as a man but is has defined his legacy to sport.
I could wax lyrical about the many many fantastic performances Keano put in for Ireland and Manchester Utd over the last decade but that would be doing him an injustice. Roy Keane is a winner, a competitor for whom winning is the only result that matters. None of us will ever know why exactly he did what he did in Saipan but I firmly believe that for Roy Keane to walk away from the World Cup he must have reached a breaking point that many of us don’t even possess.
As Alex Ferguson’s commander in chief during the last decade, the demands placed on Roy Keane to achieve were monumental, he in turn demanded perfection, and drove standards at the club to an all time high. For Ireland, this was always going to be a conflict, the shambolic operation that is the FAI were never going to be in a position to even come near matching Keane’s standards and as such it was always a matter of time how long the natural competitor would stand such mediocrity
By saying NO and walking away, Roy Keane screamed at Irish people to wake up and stop playing the content paddy. Why shouldn’t he demand the best from the players and from the Association in charge. Whether people like it or not this created a ‘Keane Factor’ which is evident today in teams across the whole spectrum of sport and across all ages. Players who are individual enough to know their own minds and brave enough to speak them have latched onto the gesture made in Saipan and as a result players and teams are pushing themselves further and higher to achieve success.
This is Roy Keane’s legacy.