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29th Jan 2023

Roy Keane flatly rejects longstanding perception of ex-Man United midfielder Paul Ince

Robert Redmond

“I loved playing with him. He was a good character in the dressing room.”

Roy Keane has said the common perception of Paul Ince as a “big-time charlie” is incorrect and that the former Manchester United midfielder was a great teammate.

Keane and Ince played in central midfield for the Red Devils between 1993 and 1995, during which time Man United won the double.

Alex Ferguson, however, allowed the former England midfielder to join Inter Milan after seemingly growing tired of Ince’s personality and performances.

The former Man United manager later bemoaned Ince’s attitude and said he grew tired of the player’s “cockiness.” According to Ferguson, writing in his 1999 autobiography, the player had “attached a rather silly title to himself and wanted people to call him ‘the Guvnor’.”

From Keane’s perspective, however, the midfielder was not an issue at Old Trafford. The Irishman has defended Ince and said that the former Inter midfielder was a “brilliant teammate.”

“I never saw that with Incey,” Keane said on ITV ahead of Man United’s FA Cup game against Reading, who are managed by Ince.

“I never saw that big-time Charlie stuff, and I know the Guvnor stuff, but to me, that was just a bit of a joke in the dressing room.

“I found Incey to be a brilliant teammate. I loved playing with him.

“He was a good character in the dressing room. I have a lot of time for him. I found him to be a brilliant guy, and obviously, he did a lot of good stuff for United.”

Ince joined Liverpool after leaving Inter Milan in 1997 and scored an equaliser against Man United at Anfield in 1999, a goal that almost dented the Red Devils’ treble-bid.

Keane said that Man United fans may hold this against him, but he found the player to be a “really good character in the dressing room.”

“Obviously, United fans sometimes remember his behaviour when he was playing for Liverpool,” Keane said.

“But Incey did a lot of good stuff for United… I think it was more later on when he ended up going to Liverpool, I think that was when the fans went against him a little bit.

“And obviously there’s a bit of a perception about Incey that he is cocky, but I never saw that, and as I said, I loved playing with him.

“I thought he was a brilliant teammate and a really good character in the dressing room.”

Ian Wright was in the ITV studio with Keane for the Man United versus Reading match, and he also defended Ince, his former England teammate.

Wright said Ince’s “Guvnor” nickname comes from playing snooker, rather than football. “We shared rooms at England,” the former Arsenal striker said. “We used to play (Playstation game) Tomb Raider until four in the morning!”

“The thing is, with the Guvnor, the Guvnor (nickname) didn’t come from anything to do with football, it was from when he used to play snooker.

“Whoever was doing well at the snooker club, they’d say, ‘Who’s the Guvnor? Who’s the Guvnor?’ And that is where that came from. It’s nothing to do with him giving it the big ‘un.

“Like he said, and I’d probably say the same thing, the club’s he’s played for, you are big time and you have to have a certain big-time vibe about you to play for those clubs, and he did.”

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