Roy Keane has debunked claims he was not committed to Ireland in light of his fall-out with Mick McCarthy which saw him sent home ahead of the 2002 World Cup.
The fractious relationship between the pair continued throughout their playing career and Keane revealed he did not ‘respect’ McCarthy as a manager.
During a seemingly pointless week of training ahead of the World Cup in Saipan, Keane was furious when equipment such as footballs and kit were not available and the surface was too hard.
Now he says manager McCarthy was ‘in bed with the Irish media’ and accused him of low standards as he tries to challenge the narrative that he was not committed to the cause.
He told the Stick to Football podcast: “The issues I had with Ireland had been going on for many years over the way we prepared for games. My frustration was with our approach to matches, our training equipment, and it came to a head.
Roy Keane was left frustrated by Mick McCarthy’s reign and ‘unacceptable’ preparation
In one of the most famous moments in Irish sport, Keane was sent home after the 2002 World Cup
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‘The turning point was the 2002 World Cup. I showed my frustration, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t show up and take care of things in a game. People missed the point that I left the World Cup.
‘There have always been questions in the media about my commitment to playing for Ireland: I missed one game. The manager felt he wanted to bring that game to a group of players.
‘We qualified months in advance – if that happened with England, France, Germany, and there was no training equipment, no footballs, no vests, you’d be a joke. But for some reason, back when it was Ireland… I had enough of that. I had my debate with Mick – I said this is unacceptable.
‘I had media commitments and I said a few things that I wasn’t happy with. Mick McCarthy had a lot of contact with the Irish media – and that’s another story. Mick also questioned me then. A reporter had asked me if I respected Mick, and I said no, I didn’t.
“I told the reporter it was private, and it was. Word got back to Mick and at the meeting I said in front of the boys that I didn’t respect him, following the accusations that I had missed the game. Just because I didn’t respect him didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try.
“Mick pulled me aside and said, ‘If you don’t respect me, how can you play for me?’ I thought I wasn’t playing for him – I was playing for my country. But I told him, “Okay, I’m not going to play.” I walked out of the team meeting with no regrets.’
Keane has long had problems with the way the Irish national team was managed and says he has ‘no regrets’ about his feud with McCarthy
According to Irish media at the time, Keane is said to have told McCarthy: ‘Mick, you’re a liar… you’re damned. I didn’t judge you as a player, I didn’t judge you as a manager and I didn’t judge you as a person.
McCarthy claimed that he had taken the team to Saipan for a “vacation” and that preparations would begin in earnest when they landed in Japan.
Sending Keane home after Ireland’s third ever World Cup was a decision that divided the country.
As captain of the side, Keane challenged not only McCarthy, but also former manager Jack Charlton and the Football Association of Ireland.
He had constant complaints about their training, travel arrangements, diet and strategy.
Ireland finished second in their group, but were knocked out in the last 16 by Spain.
He said that before a match against the Netherlands, pizza was served as cuisine
Keane continued on Stick to Football: “I never went down the road of judging people just because I started taking care of my body a little more. That doesn’t mean I didn’t go out or judge people for having a few beers.
‘What I did want from the group of people in Ireland was progress – and when Mick McCarthy got the job he came to my house in Manchester. I told him we had to do things right. We played away against the Netherlands, had a training in the stadium. The night before the game I was looking for food and there was a slice of pizza!
‘People always had it in their heads that I never really committed myself to the cause, nonsense that people wrote.
‘Mick was in bed with all these guys anyway – the same people who wrote things about me, Mick enjoyed their company and wrote books for them. There was a lot going on in the background, but no regrets.”
IT’S ALL GOING OFF!
Roy Keane spoke on the Stick to Football podcast, brought to you by Sky bet.