“He looked like a Manchester United player as soon as I saw him. We played him at Forest and the way he played told me a lot about the lad. His determination, his energy, his attitude to losing and winning told me something about him before we even got him. With Roy Keane present, keeping the ball was never a problem. I said so from the minute he came to the club. ‘He never gives the ball away, this guy,’ I told the staff and players.”
“I did not always agree with his commitment but as a quality player, as an influence on the side and as a brain on the pitch he was very influential in the success of Manchester United. [..] He was a world-class player and he’s still a top-level Premier League player but no central midfield player at 34 can be as good as he was at 24 or 26. You have to accept that.”
– Arsene Wenger in 2005 when Keane announced he would leave Manchester United
“Every training session would be like a cup final; he would drive you on in every single game, and he was one of the reasons we got so many late goals, he would drive the team forward. With him in the team you always felt like you had a chance. The best captain I played under. A brilliant player who led by example. He would be the first name on my team sheet.
“You never felt you were beaten when Keaney was in your team. He never threw in the towel. I don’t think any of the rest of us were less determined to win than Keaney, but what makes him different is the way he gets it across, his anger if you like. More than any other player I’ve seen, he affects players around him.”
— Ryan Giggs
“Roy Keane is one of the greatest players to grace the game of football.”
— Gordon Strachan
“The fans will be upset because they loved him down there – and so did I when I played there. He was a great leader. The best thing about Roy Keane is that you knew where you stood with him. If you did something wrong he’d tell you but if you did it right then he’d also tell you – in his own way. Every player looks up to him for leadership.
– David Beckham’s words on his ex-teammate when he heard the news of Keane’s departure from United
“Roy’s obsession with winning and the demands he put on others made him the most influential player in the dressing room. He became a great captain through that and, to my mind, he is the best player I have had in all of my time here. Over the years when they start picking the best teams of all time, he will be in there.”
— Sir Alex Ferguson’s quotes on Roy Keane’s retirement in 2006
“Roy Keane No 1. The rest? They’re all different.
“Frank (Lampard) is the best goalscoring midfielder, (Paul) Scholes the best footballer, Patrick Vieira the most difficult opponent… I loved playing against all of them.
– Steven Gerrard when asked to rank himself, Lampard, Scholes, Vieira and Roy Keane
“Keane kept it simple, yet had a great engine and could run box-to-box all day.”
— Michael Owen
“He was a great player, beyond question. A midfielder of extraordinary tenacity and box-to-box dynamism, with a ferocious tackle and an underrated ability to use the ball astutely. But perhaps his greatest gift was to create a standard of performance which demanded the very best from his team. There wasn’t a player at United who could match Roy’s influence in my time at the club.”
— Gary Neville (in his autobiography “Red: My Autobiography”)
“I look at Roy Keane, at his good points, and think, if I had someone in my team with that heart, I’d be delighted.”
— Stuart Pearce
“Roy Keane is one of my favourite players. I really loved playing against him, I have nothing but respect for the guy and as a player […].
– Steven Gerrard
“I remember my first training session: I got the ball from the keeper, I passed it to Gary Neville at right back and Keane just exploded, saying: ‘You passed it sideways, that’s the easy pass! You’re not at Leeds or West Ham now!’ At the time I thought: ‘What’s he talking about?’ Then when I got home, I sat and thought about it and thought: ‘Yeah, you’ve got to try and affect the game’.”
— Rio Ferdinand
“He led by example on the pitch, got the best out of other players, had great energy and could take a game by the scruff of the neck. If things weren’t going well, his attitude would change that.”
— Robbie Keane
“Keane is my absolute hero. In my opinion, the legendary Manchester United captain needs no introduction. He’s my all-time idol. The ’16′ on my shirt is, along with the birthday of my daughter Gaia, dedicated to him.
He’s the only person in the world I asked for a photo with, two years ago. I was too embarrassed to ask [Diego] Maradona, but with Keane I couldn’t resist.”
– Daniele de Rossi
“Very strong and clever, a really good captain for Man United, the best midfielder I have ever seen in my life. Very powerful and strong in the tackle, an absolutely brilliant player.”
— Andrei Kanchelskis
“He’d break up play and keep things ticking over. Great energy, and another great leader, always commanding. People respected him, and he’d give you a bollocking if you weren’t doing your job properly, but it was always to help the team. He could play a bit, too.”
— Shay Given
“He was the greatest captain I ever played for and the person that I learned most from in my career in terms of standards that you’ve got to keep. In terms of leading a team from the front, in terms of never giving up, never letting your team-mates down and standing up for your team-mates when they’re in trouble.
You talk about Alex Ferguson not giving me a telling off; you got a telling off of Roy if you dropped your standards. As a player, I don’t think people realise how good a player he was. People say he was tough, he was aggressive. He was a brilliant passer of the ball, he was as brave as a lion in terms of getting on the ball
He used to always say if I was at left back or right back, ‘If you’re having trouble and I’ve got men round me, just give me the ball I’ll get you out of trouble’
And you can trust him with your life. He was brilliant in the last couple of years when I stepped into midfield and played alongside him. You just felt safe with him being in your team. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone close to that kind of level of leadership that Roy gave that United team over a four or five year period”
– Phil Neville
“If I could pick one player in my team, I would always pick Roy Keane, in front of any other players I’ve played with. Keano had everything; he was a leader, a great player, and probably the best I ever played with.”
“For me a complete player, without a doubt Keano. Apart from the bad side he had, he was the complete midfield player for me. He was an inspiration, a leader, could score you vital goals, he could tackle when he had to, he would be naughty when he had to but playing alongside him for three or four seasons helped me improve my game a lot.”
— Paul Ince
“You need someone in a team to dictate the pace of the play and Roy does that perfectly. He defends – he’s a good tackler and a good header of the ball – and starts attacks, and passes the ball with metronomic accuracy. He works tirelessly and demands so much from his team-mates. When things are tough, like they were when United were 2-0 down in Turin in the 1999 European Cup Semi-Final, Keane gets going. But even when things are going well, he drives the team on.”
— Teddy Sheringham
“And talking of Roy Keane, I’d have him alongside Souey at the heart of midfield. The Man United skipper may be a little short of Souness in the passing department but he has so much drive, he can get forward into the box to score vital goals, and he can also put his foot in.
– Jamie Carragher explained why he picked Roy Keane in his Greatest XI
“Roy was unbelievable to play alongside and someone you could always trust. I soon learned that if you weren’t on your game he would be on top of you to make sure you were playing your part for the team. I had a few bollockings from him, but that made you work harder to avoid them. He was a great leader and captain: he drove us on and he was our manager on the pitch.”
“I only played with him for two seasons at the end of my career, and he had some injuries, but I saw more than enough to appreciate his brilliance. He is one of the best players I have ever seen. Not only that, but he could motivate players too. He was the boss too. He is also a good man.”
— Laurent Blanc
“You may wonder what we thought of Roy Keane for all those years when he was cast as Arsenal’s arch foe, crossing swords with Patrick Vieira. Well, now I have left the Premier League for Barcelona, I can come out with my true feelings – I am a big admirer of the former Manchester United captain and always have been.
– Thierry Henry in 2007
“Box to box, probably the best midfield player in terms of being an engine for the team that I’ve played with. He never really had bad games, (and) was a good leader in midfield.”
— Peter Schmeichel
“What I like about him is the fact that he wouldn’t talk; he’d take the kick, he wouldn’t say anything, then, on the next one, he’d give it to you and he would expect, of course, that you say nothing. He’s not the kind of player who talks a lot. So he’ll take the kick, he will give back, but I like him – he’s quite fair.”
“We had similar qualities as players. We were both determined, we wanted to win, and we were both leaders of our teams. That’s why I always loved to play against him. [ . . . ] despite the rivalry, there has always been respect between us. We challenged ourselves, we battled, but we always retained respect for each other.”
— Patrick Vieira
“He doesn’t know this, but everybody (in the Manchester United squad when Keane joined) was buzzing to have him there. We knew that he was a special player, we knew that he loved to have a bit of a moan, but we knew that he could produce the goods week in, week out, and we knew he was a winner.”
— Dion Dublin
“Both physically and tactically a giant of the game.”
— Emmanuel Petit
“Some remember Roy for the bad things he did, but he was so influential. Wow. Manchester United were a totally different team without him.”
— Gus Poyet’s Roy Keane quotes
“He was the best in midfield; he could play everywhere. He could play the holding role and be defensive, but then he could suddenly burst forward and score goals. He was so intelligent in how he played the game and let me tell you, it felt good to have him behind me for four seasons. He’d win the ball and then give it to me. And what a character!”
— Eric Cantona‘s quotes on Roy Keane
“I would say he was the best player I’ve ever seen passing the ball 15 yards through the gaps in midfield to his strikers. He always looked forward, and he punched those balls in with such pace and ferocity. A world-class performer.
His character, his desire, his determination, his will to win, his inspirational performances on the field; put all these attributes together, it made him one of the very best.”
— Matt Holland
“(Keane was) always screaming to me: ‘Cristiano! Pass the ball’! But it was good! At the end of the day, I feel happy because I learned a lot from them
– Cristiano Ronaldo quotes about Roy Keane
“I played with him at United for a bit over three seasons, and we won a lot of trophies together. He’s the type of player who pushes everybody and keeps everybody sharp. He played very simple, and it looked very easy when you watch him play, but he was so important for the team. Every team needs a player like Keane, someone who can control the game and dominate the tempo. Tactically and positionally he always got it right and is very good in one-on-one duels.”
— Jaap Stam quotes about Roy Keane
“With Roy, I knew he was a great footballer but until I played with him didn’t realise how great. His passing was probably the best I’ve played with. In terms of getting it in to the forwards’ feet.
“I had associated him with someone who got round the pitch, making tackles, but it was his passing that blew me away.”
– Wayne Rooney about his former teammate Keane
“Roy was probably the biggest influence on my career. He would come down hard on me if I ever did anything wrong but he made me realise what it meant to be a Manchester United player.
“He [Keane] was our captain, he was our leader and he left a mark: where we are now is down to him, our dedication comes from the standards he set. The rules about time-keeping, about getting in a half-hour early, they were his instructions back in the day and those traditions continue.
“He was a great influence, really. If Roy had a go at you, he did it because he cared. He was the best captain you could wish for. He would tear you to shreds on the pitch if you gave away the ball, “get your effing touch right, effing this, effing that” but, as soon as you got into the dressing room, it was over. He was a winner. I’ve met dedicated professionals but he had something else.”
— Darren Fletcher’s Roy Keane quotes in 2010
“I didn’t know Roy personally but I played against him many times. A warrior, a great player, a great captain, leader, won everything he could at Man United
– Alan Shearer
“Roy Keane was a constant leader on the field, no matter what type of game we played. Even in training, he was driven by his determination. He had the passion and desire to win and had all the attributes of a leader, by voice and by performances.”
— Mikael Silvestre
“Roy Keane [when Van Nistelrooy was asked to name his favourite Manchester United player]
Founder and editor of Footiecentral. A voracious reader who loves reading anything and everything related to the history of football. He’s an ardent supporter of Manchester United and rarely misses a match.