Jason McAteer savages Roy Keane for comments about red card clash

 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 OverlapKeane was quizzed over the infamous red card he received during the 1-1 draw with Sunderland back in 2002.

Claiming that McAteer ‘deserved it’, Keane then went on to say “I wouldn’t go that far” as Neville then questioned Keane’s comments and reminded him that his centre midfield counterpart for Sunderland was his Irish teammate at the time, to which Keane coolly shut down before rubbishing Scott’s question about whether they were ‘mates’.

“Absolutely not. Just because you play with someone doesn’t mean you’re mates. Do you know what, he was one of these players who shout their mouths off. I didn’t mind lads kicking me or booting me, honestly, but [Jason] McAteer, as usual, had plenty to say for himself. But even then, I didn’t deserve to be sent off in that game, absolutely not. If you look back on it, I didn’t even catch him.”

McAteer hits back at Keane’s comments

Whether the midfielder-turned-pundit’s idea was to rile up McAteer and prompt a response, we’ll never know. But it has seemed to ruffle some feathers. On X (formerly Twitter), McAteer has hit back as he called the former Manchester United enforcer a ‘clown’ and told him to ‘bore off’.

“Love it. Players shouting their mouths off !!! Funny You can’t shut the clown up now. And no we weren’t team -mates cause he never showed up and when he did he went home !!!! Please !!!!! Bore off.”

A matter of months before the pair met domestically, Keane – in dramatic fashion – left the Irish World Cup roster before the training camp. And that, unsurprisingly, wasn’t a popular decision among his and so, 21 years later, McAteer couldn’t help but jibe at him for leaving his international teammates in the dust.

A fan replied to his initial and claimed that he should show Keane some respect, calling him the ‘greatest Irish player of all time’. And you guessed it, McAteer hit back and suggested that both Liam Brady and Paul McGrath were both better players in their heyday. Recently, McAteer spoke on beIN SPORTS about the situation, explained his part to play in Keane’s red card and revealed that he sincerely hopes to sweep any issues under the carpet with his former Ireland teammate.

“Now, to gain an advantage over an opponent, you do your homework on them. You might need to give them one early doors, get in their ear, wind them up. I knew what buttons to press that day. I knew if we were going to win the game, my battle, in midfield, with Roy Keane, one of the greatest players, was to get in his head. And I knew I could and that was what my mentality was. It was to upset him verbally.

“We clashed in the middle of the park. His book had just come out and again, he was derogatory in his book, and I was a little bit sad about what he had said, and he told me what he was going to do to me in the clash and I said: ‘Put it in your next book, I’ll read it’ and I mimicked writing in a book.

“And he waited until the last ten seconds of the game, and he ran past me – and it’s cheap, he’s better than that. He elbowed me on the side of the head as he walked past me. Uriah Rennie was standing right there, the referee. The world saw him elbow me. To say ‘I didn’t do it’ and that he didn’t catch me is wrong. But to say I deserved it, it’s assault.”

McAteer, perhaps surprisingly, went on to explain how he would like to bury the hatchet and move on from the needless situation – or in the case that Keane refused to put their past behind them, they could get the boxing gloves out to settle their dispute.

“I’d rather him come in here now, and we just go ‘Let’s just let bygones be bygones. Let’s be civil.’ Or we can get in the ring for £1m each and fight it out.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply