Testimony by / With thanks to: Neil Sherwin, co-editor of Back Page Football - a high-quality football blog that maintains an independent spirit in a competitive market. The site provides aspiring football content creators with an opportunity to showcase their output, so next time you reach for SkySports by default, have a look at BPF instead.
With seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a Champions League to his name, amongst other honours, Roy Keane enjoyed a superb 13-year stint at Manchester United.
A brilliant box-to-box midfielder, his ability in the final third was often lost in the praise he rightly received for his ability to dominant from deep. Having started out at Cobh Ramblers, the Cork native joined Nottingham Forest before switching to Old Trafford in 1993 for a then British transfer record fee of £3.75 million.
In contrast to the success at club level, Keane’s international career with the Republic of Ireland feels unfulfilled following his absence from the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. At 30 years of age, Keane was still in his prime and Ireland had a squad that would eventually lose to Spain in the last 16 on penalties. However, pre-tournament grievances over the standard of training facilities and equipment at the squad’s camp in Saipan led to a falling out with manager Mick McCarthy and the Football Association. Keane left the group, having stuck to his principles, and the incident is still debated in Ireland, albeit with a sense of humour these days.
His will to win cannot be questioned, and the same brutal honesty from Saipan contributed to an exit from United in November 2005 after Keane publicly called out the behaviour of some of his team mates. If you had to pick out the quintessential Roy Keane performance, it would be the second leg of the 1999 Champions League semi-final against Juventus in Turin. After collecting a first half booking that would rule him out of the final, Keane put in a monstrous showing and scored one of the goals as United came from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Sir Alex Ferguson later described it as “the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field”.
Keane’s peak coincided with the Premier League’s love for a holding midfielder as the likes of Patrick Vieira (Arsenal), Claude Makelele (Chelsea) and Dietmar Hamann (Liverpool) also played vital roles at their respective clubs. While others in that role were sometimes limited in their technical ability, Keane had the perfect timing needed to break up an attack with a tackle, the passing accuracy to dictate play from deep, and the engine get on the end of a sweeping move in the final third.
A little background information from me, the idiot behind Look What it Means to Him...
As with last week (Nigel de Jong) the image above was inspired by a single source (see below) rather than a collection. I lazily assumed this endlessly imitated image was a propaganda poster encouraging women to revolt in pre-Bolshevik Russia. As it turns out, it's actually a 1924 advertisement for a publishing house (next week I'll be misinterpreting a Go Compare advert as a call to arms) created by Aleksandr Rodchenko.
Despite effectively being a commercial, the poster still "endorses the goals of political revolution" (at least, that's what Google says) and is a prime example of constructivism, which I assume is the opposite of procrastination. In the original, Lilya Brik, the image's central figure is shouting the word 'BOOKS!'. In my version; Roy Keane barks the word 'FIGHT!' to inspire his team - it's not a subtle message, but then, sometimes neither was Keane.