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12th Oct 2017

Alan Shearer reveals he almost fought Roy Keane in the tunnel after a match

"He punched me in the face once, didn't he?"

Robert Redmond

“He punched me in the face once, didn’t he?”

Alan Shearer has been speaking about his clash with Roy Keane back in 2001. The former captains of Manchester United and Newcastle United got into a dispute in the final minutes of a dramatic 4-3 win for the home side at St James’ Park.

Shearer, who scored the winner in the game, took the ball to the corner flag in an attempt to keep possession and run down the clock. The former England striker conceded a throw-in, Keane then picked up the ball and threw it at Shearer. Words were exchanged between the pair and the Irishman swung a punch at his opponent, he didn’t catch him, but the referee sent-off Keane.

Shearer has revealed that the dispute between the Premier League legends didn’t end there, and that they almost fought in the tunnel immediately following the match.

“He punched me in the face once, at St James’ Park, didn’t he?” Shearer said on the True Geordie podcast.

“He got that red card, he walked off the pitch, it was the last minute of the game and he’d been given the red card, and he was waiting for me at the top of the tunnel. Of course, we tried to get each other and we couldn’t, it was like hold me back, don’t hold me back, but we couldn’t get to each other, it would have been interesting.”

The red card was the tenth dismissal of Keane’s career, and the former Ireland captain clashed with Shearer on several occasions. 18 months later, Shearer caught Keane with an elbow during United’s 6-2 win at St James’ Park.

In 2015, Shearer told Four Four Two that he couldn’t remember what he had said to anger Keane during the 2001 game.

“He tried to take a quick throw and I tried to slow him down as there were only a few minutes left and we were winning,” the Premier League’s all-time top scorer said.

“He got the hump at that and threw the ball at my head. I can’t remember what I said, but he tried to throw a punch at me and got a red card. Minutes later, I’m walking down the tunnel and there he is, waiting for me. Our teammates wouldn’t let us get together to settle things.”

Craig Bellamy, who played alongside Shearer that day and later fell out with former Newcastle captain, reflected on the incident in his own autobiography. Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t paint his former teammate in a particularly favorable light, suggesting that Shearer was reluctant to confront Keane following the game.

“I was watching when Alan and Roy Keane clashed- the ball went out for a throw in and Keane, who was wound up reacted to something Alan said and threw the ball at him,” Bellamy writes.

“It hit him on the back of the head and Alan complained to the referee. The referee sent Keane off and Keane went absolutely nuts. He looked like he wanted to rip Alan’s head off. It took about five of the United players to restrain him. I adored Keane. He was one of the best players I ever played against. I idolised him in fact, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go up against him in those circumstances. I saw him waiting for Alan in the tunnel at the end of the game and Alan didn’t seem to be hurrying off the pitch! He was one of the last to come off actually, which we all made sure we remarked on when he finally made it back to the dressing room. Keane had to be dragged into the United dressing room by then.”

Whatever happened between Keane and Shearer, they seem to be on good terms now and appeared together on punditry duty for the BBC back in 2015.

“I did an FA Cup game with Roy Keane,” Shearer tells the True Geordie. “We got on fine, had a laugh and a joke – he’s another one who I had some great battles with.”

While his beef with Shearer has been settled, Keane still isn’t a fan of Newcastle United. “I always had a bit of hassle against Newcastle,” he says in his second autobiography.

“I’d been sent off twice up there. I’d had my battles with Shearer and Rob Lee. I always thought they were an arrogant bunch, for a club that had won fuck all. We always got decent results at St James’ Park; it wasn’t a bad place to play. But as for the Toon Army, the Geordies, the hostile reception – I never fell for all that crap.”

You can watch Shearer’s interview here: