“He didn’t actually cut his head off,” Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said after seeing his skipper Roy Keane attempt to land a hayloft on Alan Shearer.
It was sort of a defense, unlike the Premier League champions that day, 20 years ago, in September 2001, when they lost 4-3 to Newcastle.
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Keane and Shearer met in a Premier League match in September 2001
Keane himself, in an interview after the incident, seemed frustrated, the only thing he had managed to get rid of was referee Steve Bennett’s hand yellow card, which he was due to receive.
Before the swing-cum-shove, the United captain – now 50 – had hit Shearer in the head with the ball while pretending to take a throw-in, a fairly obvious offense a warning was coming.
The boost though, would earn him an upgrade, despite Gary Neville pushing him away and avoiding further trouble.
The roar of St James’ Park didn’t help, with 50,000 enraged fans targeting Keane.
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Keane was prevented from doing Shearer any real harm, ignoring the red card brandished in his own way
“I lost my temper, we were losing 4-3, I think, at the last minute,” he said, thinking back to the moment of madness.
“If you’re going to get kicked out, the worst part is that I pushed him.” If you are going to be kicked out, you might as well hit him correctly because you are going to receive the same punishment.
“You might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. That’s what I thought afterwards. It was just a push. It was ridiculous. “
Shearer performed his part superbly in the play, his cold gaze on Keane, knowing his opponent was pissed off, just as villainous as the deeds done by his enemy.
The England legend had eight minutes earlier put Newcastle ahead in the seven-goal thriller for one last time before the final whistle, via a Wes Brown deflection.
In fact, after bringing Newcastle back to 3-3, it looked like United were going to win it, and even after Toon winner Paul Scholes missed two great opportunities.
Keane was frustrated and not making Shearer fall into his trap and react to being hit by the bullet was the last straw.
He continued to chase and goad his opponent but nothing worked.
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Shearer celebrates role in winning strike for Newcastle
Shearer was thrilled, he told the Match of the Day podcast, “Yeah, I didn’t like him. I had a lot of rucks with him and I wasn’t the only one. It was a touch in the far corner where I prevented him from making an early pitch.
“We were beating them in St. James and he wanted a quick throw-in and he had been against me the entire game as he normally was. It was about three or four minutes before the end of the game. I don’t remember exactly what I said, I called it some kind of name.
“He got the red card and I remember smirking and thinking, ‘I made you [like] a herring here. I can’t believe you fell into this little trap. “
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Keane was adamant he would get his hands on Shearer
It got almost delicious in the tunnel a few minutes later too, according to Shearer in another interview: “He was waiting for me at the top of the tunnel. Of course we tried to reach each other and we couldn’t, it was like holding me back, don’t hold me back, but we couldn’t contact each other, that would have been interesting.
Although his teammate Craig Bellamy doesn’t really remember it that way.
He says in his autobiography: “I saw him waiting for Alan in the tunnel at the end of the match and Alan didn’t seem to hurry to leave the pitch!
“He was one of the last to come out actually, which we all made sure to notice when he finally got into the locker room. Keane must have been dragged into United’s dressing room at this point. “
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There was no love lost between Shearer and Keane
Manchester United were in their fifth game of the season as defending Premier League champions and as they continued to consistently hit the back of the net, the loss of center-back Jaap Stam, sold to Lazio this summer, weakened his bottom line.
Seven goals had been conceded in their first four games, and the loss to Newcastle made it 11 of five, even with the addition of France’s World Cup winner Laurent Blanc.
Keane has high standards and this drop hasn’t gone well at all.
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Eventually, Keane managed to get off the pitch
In fact, Keane was so frustrated with his own actions that he even considered hanging up his boots when he had just turned 30.
At the end of the previous season, he had been given a red card for his infamous challenge over Alf-Inge Haaland, and despite another Premier League winner’s medal, all was not well.
He added: “I was fed up and was fed up with myself. Especially after the game. The gaffer never really tried me. I knew from his body language – “How much more, Roy?” “
“I saw it the next day and said ‘I’ve had enough’ – and I meant it.
Characteristics of Rex
Ferguson and Keane spoke candidly about the player’s future next Monday
“I came back that night and waited, didn’t sleep. I spoke to Thérèse [Keane’s wife] when I came back and she said ‘you’re crazy’ and I said ‘I know that but…’
“I never trained on Monday or Sunday, and he came on Monday afternoon and we had a great conversation.
“He said ‘you’ll miss you’ and I was convinced I wouldn’t, but I guess deep, deep, very deep, of course, I knew I would miss going out at Old Trafford. I loved playing at Old Trafford and loved playing for United. Complete stop. ”
He continued to play for the Red Devils until a dramatic fall in November 2005, but after six months with Celtic he was forced to retire in June 2006.
Shearer, however, retains immense respect for Keane and his colossal leadership career for a great Manchester United team, despite their various rucks.
“I did [have run-ins] but only because of the respect I had for him, because of how much he wanted to earn and what a captain he was, ”said Shearer, assessing Keane’s possible Hall of Fame entry this week.
Two center-forward, both gifted with the natural skill and talent that have written their names in Premier League history
We are delighted to announce Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry as the first two inductees of the #PLHallOfFame pic.twitter.com/MAKgi3SYzV
– Premier League (@premierleague) 26 avril 2021
“The sign of a great captain is when your team is in trouble, you have 70,000 or 80,000 fans watching you, you have millions of people around the world watching you.
“Probably more importantly, you have your teammates and your manager watching you do something to get us out of trouble.
“Whether it’s a tackle, an assist or a goal, whatever it is and that’s what great captains do – and that’s what Roy Keane was.
“He was a great leader and he led his team to so many victories, so many trophies and he embodied everything that was great about Man United at that time.”
This is why Keane has rightly taken his place alongside his sparring partner in the Hall of Fame.