Hardly embarrassing – Roy Keane’s performance at Ibrox for Celtic was superb

Roy Keane somehow reckons that he embarrassed himself during his short spell at Celtic because his body was no longer in a condition to allow him to play his usual game and the Irishman admits that he should have called time on his playing career when he left Manchester United.

Speaking on the Stick to Football podcast the Irishman revealed that he should never have attempted to prolong his career by signing for Celtic in 2005 after leaving Manchester United by mutual consent.

Roy Keane poses with Celtic manager Gordon Strachan at Celtic Park, 15 December 2005. The 34-year-old has signed a deal until the summer of 2007 with the Glasgow giants after his contract with Manchester United was terminated by mutual consent. (Photo credit IAN STEWART/AFP via Getty Images)

Life as a Celtic player couldn’t have got off to a worse start for Keane with that shock Scottish Cup exit at Broadwood in Cumbernauld. Clyde’s 2-1 win is up there among the all-time shock results in Scottish football.

“I was 34 when I finished. But I should have retired when I left United. I even lost a bit of the love for the game after that,” Keane admitted. “I went up to Celtic but my hip was really at me, painkillers for training. I tore my hamstring two or three times up at Celtic. I was commuting. I still had a year left on my contract and I rang Gordon.

 Glasgow Celtic’s Roy Keane during a FA Cup 3rd round match against Clyde in Glasgow, 08 January 2006. Clyde won 2-1.  (Photo GLENN CAMPBELL/AFP via Getty Images)

“I went to see the hip specialist who said the longer you play on, the worse damage… he was talking about when I retire, about quality of life.

“I rang Gordon Strachan about what do I do. I had gone up there and kind of embarrassed myself, I wasn’t really doing the business. I’d said I am finished but losing sleep before I rang him, as soon as I put the phone down I had closure on my career.

“I had no hesitation, I wouldn’t say relief, but something lifted off me. When you have had injuries it beats you up.”

 Roy Keane of Celtic runs onto the pitch for the Scottish Premier league soccer match against Kilmarnock at Celtic Park January 14, 2006. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Keane is perhaps being harsh on himself here. Yes, the start against Clyde was awful to say the least but that couldn’t really be blamed on the former Manchester United legend. His performance at Ibrox just a month afterwards was magnificent as Matt Corr describes brilliantly in his new book Majic, Stan and the King of Japan which covers that eventual 2005-06 season, the first under Gordon Strachan’s leadership.

In the end Keane only played 13 matches for Celtic but he did win a league winners medal with his boyhood heroes to add to the seven English titles and four FA Cups he won at Manchester United.

 Maciej Zurawski of Celtic celebrates with Roy Keane after scoring during the Scottish Premier division match between Celtic and Hibernian at Celtic Park April 16,2006. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Roy Keane made that call to Gordon Strachan in mid-June 2006 and shortly afterwards, as reported by BBC, he made the following statement:

“Having received advice from my surgeon and the Celtic doctor, my only option is to retire. I would like to send the manager, staff, the players and the supporters of Celtic Football Club best wishes for the future,” Roy Keane, Monday 12 June 2006.

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan said:

“Roy Keane is one of the greatest players to grace the game of football. It was fantastic that we were able to bring him to Celtic and it has been a privilege to work with him. Even in his short time with the club, Roy made a great contribution and played an important part in bringing success to the club last season.

“We were delighted to make Roy’s dream come true when we signed him for Celtic and we were happy when he made our dream come true by helping us to win the title.

Roy Keane attends a press conference to announce his signing for Celtic on December 15, 2005. (Photo by Alan Peebles/Getty Images)

“Roy’s retirement will be a loss to Celtic and, of course, a loss to football in general. We would all like to wish Roy and his family all the best for the future. Roy will always be welcome at Celtic Park.”

Commenting on the news that his former captain had announced his retirement Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had this to say:

“Roy’s obsession with winning and the demands he put on others made him the most influential player in the dressing room. He became a great captain through that and, to my mind, he is the best player I have had in all of my time here. Over the years when they start picking the best teams of all time, he will be in there.”

Here’s the Stick to Football podcast, an interesting listen throughout but f you just want to hear about Roy Keane talking about Celtic, it’s in the last segment of the video.  Details of where to get a copy of Majic, Stan and the King of Japan can be found below the Stick to Football video.  The book is available now in hardback and also on Amazon Kindle and tells the story of that eventual 2005-06 season.

In the summer of 2005, incoming Celtic manager Gordon Strachan faced one of the most difficult jobs in world football, charged with restoring the fortunes of the grand old club after a heartbreaking end to the previous season, which saw legendary boss Martin O’Neill and many of the stars who had delivered such incredible success in the early part of the new millennium take their leave. The end of an era.

But this is Celtic…and our nights are darkest just before the dawn. Soon we would witness the thrilling emergence of a team of exciting new heroes who would create their own magical history in those iconic Hoops, as the next chapter in the greatest football story of them all was written, roared on by that Celtic constant, a fanatical worldwide support.

John Hartson of Celtic celebrates scoring their first goal during the Scottish Premier League match between Celtic and Rangers at Celtic Park Stadium on November 19, 2005 . (Photo by Chris Lee/Getty Images)

And what a remarkable chapter it is…Celtic theatre at its rollercoaster finest with last-minute dramas, the tragic loss of another of our immortal Lions and the onset of illness of another beloved redhead with Celtic pouring through his veins, then ultimately title triumph as the Hoops battle through a season dismissed by many as being purely transitional to regain their mantle as Scotland’s Champions, the Celts once again the dominant football force in the land.

It’s a season full of characters befitting of any Celtic Story. From Poland came Artur Boruc, the eccentric but brilliant Holy Goalie, and Maciej ‘Majic’ Zurwaski, the international duo thrilling Hoops supporters at either end of the pitch.

Maciej Zurawski of Celtic celebrates after scoring during the Scottish Premier League match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium on February 12, 2006. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

We had the perfect Irish Heartbeat in midfield, new skipper Neil Lennon joined by Roy Keane, the world-class Cork Bhoy fulfilling a lifetime dream by wearing those colours, the duo in their element as they dominate proceedings in a vital win at Ibrox. And the incredible, lung-bursting power of Stiliyan Petrov, Stan the Man, the Bulgarian captain with his trademark winning goals turning one point into three in Celtic’s relentless pursuit of the honours.

Stephen McManus celebrates after scoring during the Scottish Premier division match between Hearts and Celtic at Tynecastle on January 1, 2006,.Celtic won the match 3-2. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

It’s a campaign where the young pretender Shaun Maloney steps out of the shadows with a series of stunning performances to become Scotland’s Player of the Year, and where John Hartson ends his Celtic career by becoming the latest in a long list of striking superstars to pass the century mark of goals for our club.

06.08.2005 Photo- imago/Colorsport. Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic Glasgow v Dundee United

Finally, there is the genius of Shunsuke Nakamura, The King of Japan, commencing a Celtic career blessed with the most incredible footballing moments. Little known before his arrival on these shores but still revered two decades later. Technically perfect, he lights up Paradise.

It’s time to tell this story. To relive those goals. To remember those songs. When we had Majic, Stan and The King of Japan…and for a short while at least Roy Keane.

Click on image above to order a hardback copy of Majic, Stan and the King of Japan which will be personally signed by the author.
Click on the image above to order the Amazon Kindle version which comes will all the brilliant photos from that season which appear in th hardback version of the book.

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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