Roy Keane Explains Why He Turned Down Real Madrid
Roy Keane turned down the opportunity to play for Real Madrid late on his career.
The Irishman's glittering, trophy-laden stint with Manchester United came to an end in November 2005 after a bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson.
Keane was 34 and coming towards the very end of his playing days but still had plenty of interest from leading European clubs. One of which was the mighty Real Madrid, who Keane came up against on a host of occasions as United captain.
After getting the all-important phone call whilst on the loo, he got as far as having a solicitor travel to Spain and looked set to put pen to paper before getting cold feet and backtracking.
"Real Madrid offered me a year and a half deal," Keane writes in his second autobiography, via Pundit Arena.
"Michael (Kennedy) had been over to Madrid and he'd negotiated a deal with Real. They spoke to me, too. Butragueño rang me. Emilio Butragueño - what a player he was. Michael had given me a heads-up that Butragueño would be phoning, so I took my mobile everywhere with me.
"And - how's your luck - he rang me when I was sitting on the toilet. He said, 'Look, Roy, we'll be glad to have you.' The club's board just had to sanction the deal; it was standard procedure.
More Like ThisMore Like This
"I was going, '-okay', hesitating. Michael was going, 'What are you doing, Roy?'"
"It was the most attractive challenge in front of me, but I didn't accept it.
"With hindsight, I should have said to myself, 'Go. Go to Spain, live there for a year and a half, learn a different language, learn the culture. You might end up loving it. You might even stay there.'
"I took a negative approach, I think, instead of saying, 'This is amazing, what a chance for me.' It could have been great for my kids. The weather and the training might have given me another lease of life, another two years of playing; I might have picked up new techniques for my stretching. But instead - as usual - I was looking at what might go wrong. 'Hindsight' is a fucker of a word. At the time, it felt like the right decision."
Keane would end up joining boyhood club Celtic in January 2006 and ended up playing 13 games for the Bhoys before hanging up his boots and eventually moving into coaching.
As much as the prospect of being a 'Galactico' alongside the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo and former teammate David Beckham was appealing, Keane wanted "to have an effect on a team".
He continued: "I didn't want to move to Spain. As much as anything else, it was fear that decided me - fear of the unknown. And I threw excuses in front of me - family, language, the kids' education. I could imagine myself going to Madrid, and into the dressing room. I'd be starting all over again, and I was in no mood to be doing that. I'd had a tough career. Physically, I was struggling.
"It's no good playing for a club; or, it's not just about playing for them. It's about having an effect on the club, having a big influence. That was one of my concerns when I left United. I was thirty-four, an experienced player. Real Madrid might just have wanted someone to do a job, sit in the middle of the park for a few games. But I wanted to go in and have an effect on a team."