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09th Sep 2019

Jon Walters responds to Roy Keane’s attack on him

Conan Doherty

“Just got hammered this week, didn’t I?”

Jon Walters wasn’t living under a rock. He saw the Roy Keane comments, he listened as his character was assassinated, his football career scoffed at and his family life – or at least his interviews about his family life – used as some sort of stick to beat him with.

It seems that most of Keane’s frustration is pointed at the stories Walters has told on Liquid Football. On one episode, Walters recalled the time the pair came head to head in the manager’s office at Ipswich Town.

It’s not something the former Irish striker regrets – they’ve both moved on, Walters to the media, and he’s just telling stories about what went down throughout his life in professional football, the way any half-decent ex pro would.

“If I get asked something I just tell the truth,” he says. “That’s got to him a little bit and he’s had a little nibble back. More than a nibble.”

On Monday night’s show, Walters responded to Roy Keane.

“I’ll tell you one thing about the man – he doesn’t get to me one bit,” he said on Liquid Football.

“As a player I think that’s what bothers him most maybe. I’m possibly the only one that stood up to him, more than once.

“And I think that might get to him. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him that question but you might get something back.”

Perhaps what riles Keane is the nature of Walters’ stories, where he dismissed the idea that the United legend was someone to be afraid of.

“I said this the other day – I really don’t know why people pay attention. Why they get that worried by Roy. Because, yes, he was a good player – an unbelievable player – known as a hard man on the pitch.

“But there’s a difference between being a hard man on the pitch and being a tough guy. Just because someone has a sharp tongue or a stare, doesn’t make them a tough guy.

“My brother-in-law was a Marine commando, went to war, he’s a tough guy. They’re the people you say are tough guys, not Roy. So that’s why I was never scared as a player.

“You have bullies who try and bully you. I always do the right thing, and stick up to it.”

And, of course, Walters took exception to some of Keane’s comments about him crying on TV – stuff that was “a bit close to the bone”.

“What he went into, the stuff about crying on TV, I think that was something that I never expected.

“What it came from – I did an interview with Henry Winter two years ago. And he caught me by surprise. He asked me about my mum, which I’d never spoke about. Not even with my family, not even with my wife and my kids.

“It’s almost like a taboo subject and always has been. I went into it and I broke down. And he offered to not publish it. To take it out. But I said ‘No go ahead with it. Just see what comes of it.’

“I was nervous about it. It came out, off the back of that – the amount of people that got in touch through Twitter and Instagram, people in the street…

“It was a case of people, what they went into – they had lost children recently, they’d lost parents – and they were lower than low.

“You’re talking about things that they were contemplating and the fact that I had spoken out had helped them speak to someone and to really help them. So it hit a chord with me that when you have a platform you can speak about it.

“And then I went to the Late Late Show in Dublin. And no one knew the year I’d had. Only my wife knew… really to the extent of the year that we both had.

“And it was a case of I lost my brother, went on pre-season to Cork, lost my brother. Flew back over to England. Met my other brother and sister. Flew back to Cork to play in a pre-season game because I just wanted to carry on with it.

“My wife lost her baby the day after. And then my daughter was diagnosed with scoliosis, which is… You’re talking about operations and as a 14-year-old girl that’s not nice. That hit me hard.

“So I went on the Late Late Show but I couldn’t get my words out. I was okay speaking to my wife about it, because we both knew. But to go and tell everyone else… I didn’t want to do it, but it was just the fact of how many people it helped in the first place.

“And mental health’s a massive issue now. I think suicide’s the biggest killer of men, isn’t it? And the people that got in touch with me in the first place, that made me wanna say ‘Look, footballers – we’re humans. This happens to us.’

“And you know, my brother passed away, and a big part of him passing away was mental health, from a young age. Partly to do with Mum passing away – that was a big reason he was why he was in the end.

“And [for Keane] to go there – that was… whether he meant it or not, he probably did… I think it just shows a side of him that probably I know.”

Later in the episode, Walters also revealed the root of the issues between himself and Keane, and where the animosity between them came from during their brief spell together at Ipswich Town.

“I said to him. ‘You’re a bully. You bully everyone in the club. You bully the staff, you bully the players. I’m not scared of you. You want to bully them, bully them, but I’m not scared of you. Let’s have it, me and you’,” said Walters.

“[We were] head to head and he’s gone, ‘Hit me’. I said, ‘You hit me’. And it sort of wasn’t happening. I’ve gone to leave the room and as I’ve gone to walk out, he’s said something very personal. Something that’s nothing to do with him, but that’s touched a nerve with me.

“So, I’ve shut the door behind me and gone back in. I’ve said basically that – ‘It’s got nothing to do with you. Come on, then, let’s have it. You hit me first and watch what happens.’ And, basically, ‘I’ll rip your head off’. That’s what I was saying to him. But I’d gone by then; I’d switched.

“Once again, back and forth for a few minutes. And then he says to me, ‘You’re not going to hit me because I’ll have you arrested if you hit me’. I knew I had him then, because if you stand up to a bully… like, ‘I’ll have you arrested if you hit me in this work-place’.

“So I said, ‘Okay then, I’ll go meet you outside somewhere. Call me tonight and I’ll come and meet ya’.

“And he’s come back with, ‘Oh, are you going to meet me in the middle of a field with all your mates and ambush me?’

“I said, ‘No, I’ll come to your house. I’ll come to your house and while all your family are there, whatever else, [just] me and you. I’m on me own. I don’t care. I’ll meet you there’.”

He then received a fine from Ipswich Town in the post and, to Walters’s best recollection, the fine read: ‘After our meeting in my office, I find it unacceptable [that] you threatened to carry out violence outside of club premises. If there were witnesses, I’d look to that criminal or civil proceedings against you. Here’s your [fine for] two weeks’ wages. You’ve got the right to appeal, seven days. Signed, Roy Keane’.

What perplexed Walters, and made him laugh, he says was a comment from Keane, at the live event, when he said he had sent the player his home address and he was ‘still waiting’ for him to show up.

“Why are you lying?” he asks. “Don’t lie.

“So I know I got to him. I got in his head. I don’t mind about the other things [he said] but don’t lie.”