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01st Mar 2021

Rio Ferdinand recalls Roy Keane sparking out United youngster in training

Patrick McCarry

“I warned him!”

Former Ireland star Niall Quinn recently recalled how Roy Keane made an early impression on his international teammates by cutting Mick McCarthy – his captain – down to size on the team bus.

It was 1992 and McCarthy took it upon himself to scold Keane – then with Nottingham Forest – for going off drinking with several senior players.

“First trip,” McCarthy proclaimed. “Disgrace.”

“First touch,” Keane quipped back. “Disgrace!”

Following that moment, Keane was one of the lads and had laid out a marker to all-comers.

Skip forward a decade and Keane was now the Manchester United captain. He was training with a new set of United youngsters, who Alex Ferguson had in with the senior squad, when one player took it too far.

On the latest episode of his Vibe with Five show, Rio Ferdinand recalled what happened when young winger Chris Eagles threw himself around too much at training:

“To be fair, I remember when Roy Keane punched up Chris Eagles one time. And he was only a young kid. Out of order!”

Chris Eagles ran afoul of Roy Keane during a training session with the reserves. (Credit: Getty Images)

Eagles had been signed by United from Watford when, at the age of 17, he made his senior debut in a 2003 League Cup encounter with Leeds United. He was confined to cup outings in his first few seasons at United and had two loan spells with Watford and Sheffield Wednesday.

Ferdinand recalls that Keane was coming back from an injury and did not take kindly to this brash teenager, Eagles, chopping away at his heels in training.

“Roy was just coming back and was in training with the reserves, and a few of the young boys like Eagles and Lee Martin were in there. And they were like rats. Ratting around people, getting close and trying to tackle. He went late on Roy, once or twice, and Roy said, ‘Listen – slow down’.

“The ball comes in again and Eagles, trying to impress and trying to leave his mark, left a little bit on Roy, and pulled his jersey; something like that. Roy just turned around and went BANG! Clean to the jaw. Quick, short, sharp jab.

“And Chris was just stood there. I went, ‘Roy, what’s wrong with you? What are you doing?’ I remember coming inside and saying to him, ‘Roy, what you doing that for? He’s a young kid, man’.”

“Roy goes, I warned him’.”

Eagles ended up playing 17 senior games for United before making a permanent switch to Burnley in 2008. He played three seasons with the Clarets before moving to Bolton Wanderers and eventually finishing out his professional career with Oldham in 2019/20.

As for Keane, he hung up his playing boots in 2006 but is still delivering knock-out blows to football players and bosses from the Sky Sports studio on a bi-weekly basis.