Roy turns to family
Roy Keane was in Dublin on Tuesday (14 March) at a charity event for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind. He spoke to Ken Early about Ireland, Steve Staunton, Manchester United, Celtic and England in the World Cup. For the first time he indicated he might quit football in the interests of his family
Were you surprised when Steve Staunton got the Ireland job?
No, not really, no. I think he'd been mentioned once or twice. Apparently he's pals with – is it Delaney? I'm not sure. Nothing surprises me in there [FAI headquarters] in Merrion Square]. Why not? Give him a chance.
How are things between you now?
Well I've not seen or spoken to Stan since Saipan. But ... you move on. I'll still take it to my grave. I still think the players were wrong to go to the press conference, no matter what anyone says. But you have to remember I had some good times and some good nights out with the likes of Steve. It's time to move on. Hopefully he'll be given the time to build his own team.
Has he got what it takes?
Yeah, why not? When he first got the job people were talking about the inexperience. But sometimes it's good to go in there raw and have no fear. Judging by the first performance... The time to judge is in the qualifications. But why not? You've seen experienced managers get jobs and it not quite work out, so why not give it to one of our own?
There was a lot of scepticism here about Bobby Robson.
Bobby's been in the game a long, long time. He's managed at international level, different countries. That must be invaluable to the likes of Steve. You've got to use everything you possibly can.
Was Brian Kerr given enough time?
You're judged on your results basically. It's a cold business on that side of it. You could say he was treated unfairly ... but with the way things are now, with the media and all that, they want change straightaway if they're not happy with stuff.
But then it was down to the players and they didn't perform ... This mentality, which I feel is very common in Ireland: we get so far and everyone's a hero. You need that winning mentality, which we've lacked as a country for a long time.
I do believe we're rewarded too quickly, we're too quick to celebrate mediocre results. Everyone's talking about a friendly match against Sweden the other week. It counts for nothing. It's doing it come the crunch time. That's what the top nations do.
Surprised to see Robbie Keane chosen as captain?
Shay was maybe favourite but Steve's made a choice with Robbie. I think it'll be good for Robbie, he'll enjoy the extra responsibility ... I know he got criticised last year after one or two nights out in Dublin, but hopefully this will give Robbie that bit of responsibility. He seemed to enjoy it. And some players need that, they just go on another level. And that's what Robbie needs to do and I think he will do.
What about John O'Shea in central midfield?
I've said I think he can play in the middle. He just needs to get a bit tougher in the big crunch games. He's a talented player. He's still young, he's still improving and learning the position.
What about your testimonial?
We're looking at May the ninth, I think United and Celtic have both agreed to play a game. It's something I'm not really 100 per cent comfortable with.
It wasn't something I planned. If I was going to see out my contract at United then maybe ... it just doesn't sit comfortably with me.
But – 12 years!
Twelve and a half. It's hard to explain. To be fair, both sides have been encouraging about the game so it looks like it'll go ahead. It'll be nice to go back. I never had a chance to say goodbye to the fans.
Is it awkward because of the way you left?
No. It was very straightforward between myself and the manager. People are looking for a different angle on it, but we'd both ... come to the end. I said earlier you know when you're in a relationship with a girl, you just know when it's at the end, and that's the way it was. It was over. Time to move on.
Well, sometimes you might start sending late-night text messages a few months afterwards...
No. Don't have his number.
Do you see yourself playing another season at Celtic?
When I signed for Celtic I did say to them it would be best to look at things in the summer. They wanted me to sign the extra year, but I will look at things in the summer and see how the hip is bearing up. It's important to be fair to the club and myself and if that is affecting me, we'll weigh it up in the summer. But there's no guarantees about next season.
In 2002 the surgeon told me the longer I played the more damage I'd do to the cartilage in the hip where I had the tear. I've got to look at it long-term. Over the last few months I've always seemed to put football first, but this summer I need to look at what's best for my family.
Will you watch the World Cup? Who are you backing?
I tend not to watch until the quarters or semis, the group matches can be a bit boring. But as a bet I'd say maybe Germany... The obvious one is Brazil but everyone's gonna say Brazil.
Are you as impressed as you always are by England?
England have a chance. They've got the players, but I dunno if they've maybe got the mentality. I don't know. I think they'll concede goals. I know they'll score goals. They definitely have goals in them, with (Michael) Owen, with Wayne (Rooney). If Wayne is on fire... but I think they'll concede. I look at their back four and I see goals there.