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06th Feb 2018

Roy Keane’s account of his argument with Wayne Rooney is brilliant

"‘Did you ever find the remote control, Roy?’ I think I told him to go and f*** himself"

Robert Redmond

“‘Did you ever find the remote control, Roy?’ I think I told him to go and f*** himself.”

On Monday Night Football, Wayne Rooney recalled an argument he had with Roy Keane back when he joined Manchester United in 2004. Rooney arrived at Old Trafford from Everton for £30m, and was one of the most exciting young footballers in the world at the time. He scored against Arsenal as a 16-year-old and had excelled at Euro 2004, before his injury against Portugal derailed England’s progress.

Rooney would go on to win every trophy possible at United, including five Premier League titles, and become the club’s all-time top goal scorer before returning to Everton last summer. However, even before the trophies and the records, Rooney knew how good he was, and he wasn’t fazed when he joined United, despite the big characters in Sir Alex Ferguson’s team.

Keane was 33 when the 18-year-old Rooney arrived at Old Trafford, and while the Irishman wasn’t quite as brilliant as he had been in his prime, he was still the dominant personality in the side, and made sure everyone else maintained high standards. Yet, Rooney wasn’t afraid to challenge the legendary United captain, and soon clashed with him.

“I always remember my first away trip, having an argument with Roy Keane,” Rooney said on Sky Sports.

“Roy was watching the rugby the night before we played Newcastle away. He went to get his food, so I turned over and put X Factor on and hid the remote. He wasn’t happy by then, we had an argument. But I think straight away he respected me more for it… I think he looked at me and respected that I was big enough to have a go back at him.”

Keane’s account of the dispute goes into greater detail, and features a lot more swearing.

“The only time I had a disagreement with Wayne, it had nothing to do with a pass he should have given me, or a tactical switch,” Keane says in his second autobiography, The Second Half, written with Irish novelist Roddy Doyle.

“We were in a hotel, the Friday night before a game – I forget where. The team would always sit down and have a meal together, at about seven in the evening. There was a big TV in the room. I was into rugby league, and there was a big game on. I went to the toilet, came back and someone had changed the channel to something else – something stupid; I can’t remember what it was. A few of the players were sitting there, giggling away.”

As Rooney revealed, that “something stupid” was X Factor, and we’re just surprised that there was no blood shed when Roy returned to the room. Keane has left World Cups for less.

“I said, ‘Where’s the rugby league?’ I knew Wayne was up to something. I could tell by his face. I said, ‘Where’s the remote control?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said, ‘You fuckin’ do.’ I didn’t exactly storm out, but I couldn’t be bothered trying to get the remote control back, so I decided I’d watch the rest of the match up in my room.”

Rooney was just as brazen the following the day, and cheekily asked Keane if he had found the remote control.

“I came down the next morning for the pre-match meal and, obviously, I’m very good at letting things go – and Wayne was brave enough to come up to me. ‘Did you ever find the remote control, Roy?’ I think I told him to go and fuck himself. It was the only disagreement I ever had with him. I think he later claimed in one of his books – he has a deal to write ten – that I sent a security man to his room to get the remote control, but that’s bullshit.”

There appears to be a lot of respect between the pair, despite getting off to a tetchy start. Rooney said in the past that Keane was the best passer he played alongside, and Keane also says in his book that Rooney’s arrival gave United a big boost.

“Fans always get a lift when a big signing comes, and so do players. When Wayne Rooney walks into the dressing room, it lifts everybody. He arrived for the start of the ’04–’05 season. He was a top, top player – immediately. I knew that from the first training sessions. And we’d played against him; his ability was easy to spot.”

However, Keane says that he was fonder of Cristiano Ronaldo, who was more “innocent” than the “streetwise” Rooney.

“I probably didn’t warm to him as much as I had to Ronaldo. Wayne was a bit more streetwise; he was a Scouser – ‘All right, lads.’ He was straight in with the crack. Ronaldo was a bit more innocent. He acted like a seventeen-year-old, while Wayne seemed older.”

Keane left Old Trafford in November 2005. Unfortunately for United fans, Ronaldo or Rooney didn’t get to play with the Irishman when he was in his peak years.