Roy Keane and Liverpool: A love story down through the years
When you’re the captain of Manchester United, job perks include a greater ticket allocation than your team-mates, pick of the seats on the team bus, and the enmity of any and all Liverpool fans.
Over an eventful playing career, Liverpool were always in the background from Keane’s debut to his final game in England.
Keane returns to Liverpool as the Aston Villa assistant manager on Saturday evening and we're sure he'll get the warmest of receptions.
Liverpool 2-0 Nottingham Forest
Keane, then 19, is told by Brian Clough that he is not just going to Anfield to make up the numbers. He impresses on his debut against Kenny Dalglish’s side – who held the title at the time – and goes on to win Young Eagle of the Month (it was a big deal) just three months later.
Liverpool 3-3 Manchester United
Towards the end of Keane’s first season at Manchester United came, arguably, the best game of the Premier League’s early years.
Cut to 4:24 in the following clip where a young Keane, before he had developed either the beard or the stare, gets clattered by Neil Ruddock.
Once the afters between Ruddock and Paul Ince are dispensed with, Denis Irwin makes the most of the resulting free-kick.
The 1996 FA Cup Final
We don’t imagine this ended at all well for one Robert Bernard Fowler. You can’t see Keane’s face, but that only adds to the intrigue.
The 18th of September, 2005
When Roy Keane trudged off the Anfield pitch after a bad tackle by Luis Garcia, nobody could have predicted that it would be the last time he would wear the United jersey.
Just a few short weeks later came a certain MUTV interview in which the club captain, still recuperating, berated a number of his team-mates for a poor showing against Middlesbrough.
"There is a shortage of characters in this team. It seems to be in this club that you have to play badly to be rewarded. Maybe that is what I should do when I come back. Play badly."
He never played in English football again, with Anfield bookending the playing career of one of the Premier League’s best ever midfielders.
Keane touts himself for the Liverpool job
Back in May 2012, with Liverpool looking to appoint either one of Roberto Martinez or Brendan Rodgers to replace Kenny Dalglish, Keane said he’d head for Merseyside in a jot.
"Now is the time for [Martinez] to go and if I were him I'd jump at the chance to go to Liverpool. It might not be the best time in the club's history but it's still a great job.
"Liverpool will always be a bigger club than either Swansea or Wigan and if a chance comes to go there, you've got to take it because it might never come around again.
"Put it this way, I'd take it and my mobile is on.”
Oddly enough, it’s a call he’s still waiting for.