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23rd May 2017

It’s 15 years to the day since Roy Keane walked out of Ireland’s World Cup camp

"I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person."

Wayne Farry

It is an incident that will forever live on in the minds of Irish football fans, and one which continues to divide the country even to this day.

On this day in 2002, Roy Keane walked out of Ireland’s World Cup camp, in a dispute that will forever overshadow the country’s tournament.

Already disillusioned over what he perceived as a lack of professionalism in the Football Association of Ireland, as well as haphazard treatment of players, Keane grew increasingly furious upon Ireland’s arrival at their camp in Saipan, an island off the coast of Japan.

Expecting the sort of preparation he had grown accustomed to at Manchester United, Keane instead found a training pitch that he said was akin to a car park, and general surroundings which he believed weren’t befitting a team intent on competing for the World Cup.

Having decided to leave on May 21, Keane was persuaded to stay. All appeared resolved until an Irish newspaper published an interview which included many of the captain’s complaints regarding the situation, one which many at the FAI saw as a direct affront to its reputation as an organisation.

Word of the interview spread like wildfire and it eventually led to the infamous showdown between Keane and then Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.

The, ahem, heated discussion saw Keane utter a set of lines which will likely go down as some of the most famous in Irish sporting history:

“Mick, you’re a liar… you’re a fucking wanker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a fucking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your bollocks.”

Unsurprisingly, this verbal onslaught was Keane’s last act as an Ireland player at the tournament, as he soon returned home to walk his dogs.

While his teammates would go on to perform respectably before being eliminated by Spain on penalties, Keane’s storm out means that, for the Irish, the tournament will forever be seen as a missed opportunity.