Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane’s intense rivalry with Jason McAteer was on full display during an explosive Premier League clash between Manchester United and Sunderland.
Keane was given a red card for elbowing McAteer. Keane slammed McAteer and claimed he ‘deserved it’ when looking back at the incident.
McAteer has hit back at Keane’s recent comments, calling him a “clown” and suggesting that their rivalry should be put to rest or settled in the boxing ring.
Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane was never shy of making a solid tackle – sometimes legal, sometimes not. His no-nonsense approach to the game on and off the field, which, in turn, places him high on the list of the Premier League’s hardest-ever footballers, struck fear into the calmest of players in the top division and beyond, but his old compatriot, Jason McAteer, was not one of them.
Their relationship was already on the ropes after Keane opted to walk from Ireland’s squad on the eve of the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan, but their all-intense rivalry came to the fore as Manchester United and Sunderland clashed in the English topflight. Elbows were thrown, some harsh words were exchanged, and a solitary red card was shown – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Never too far away from a debacle, whether that be on or off the pitch, Keane famously fell out with Manchester United icon Sir Alex Ferguson, despite mustering a formidable player-manager partnership in the club’s glory days. Keane’s stubbornness has shone through since, as he has insisted that, for as long as he lives, he refuses to forgive the Scotsman.
You’d think that Keane and McAteer would just let bygones be bygones over two decades later, wouldn’t you? But remember, this is Keane we’re talking about. Without further ado, let’s relive the story of this on-pitch rivalry and touch on the comments and jibes that have been made by both parties since. It’s a juicy one, so strap in and enjoy!
Roy Keane vs Jason McAteer
And, as expected, it all kicked off as the fearless duo locked horns during a Premier League encounter between Keane’s Manchester United and McAteer’s Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. With the two contesting for the ball in the middle of the park, a tussle ensued, leaving both players on the floor.
Enraged, Keane sprung up from his position on the turf to square up and McAteer wasn’t one to back down either. Referee Uriah Rennie and teammate David Beckham – who couldn’t help but crack a wry smile – were tasked with keeping the hot-headed version of Keane locked away, but it was to no avail.
Shouting “f*** off!” in Keane’s direction as words were exchanged, McAteer could perhaps count himself lucky there were bodies in between them. But he did seem relatively unphased as Keane gestured towards his fellow countryman to keep talking. And that’s when everybody knew – that was not the end of it.
Later in the clash, the Manchester United captain sent an elbow into the side of McAteer’s head and Rennie, who earlier was trying his best to defuse the situation, had no choice but to give Keane his marching orders, though it was much to the Irishman’s disgust. Beckham, too, was displeased with the Sunderland midfielder’s reaction and gave him a select choice of words as he approached him.
Keane reignites the feud
Now it wouldn’t be a story about one of Keane’s many anger-filled feuds without him bringing it up years down the line, would it? And best of all, Keane has claimed that there wasn’t much to it. Speaking to iconic trio Gary Neville, Ian Wright and Jill Scott on The Overlap, Keane was quizzed over the infamous red card he received during the 1-1 draw with Sunderland back in 2002.