Roy Keane the pundit is a cultural phenomenon: unabashedly honest and, often, hilariously mean.
From refusing to sign Robbie Savage because his voicemail screamed ‘Whassup’, to shouting at his Sunderland players for listening to ABBA, anger comes naturally to the former Manchester United captain.
Keane never shies away from calling it how he sees it
What’s far more difficult is earning his praise. Indeed, his recent lauding of Chelsea teenager Billy Gilmour almost made Blues boss Frank Lampard spill his tea.
But at least then you know it’s genuine, that’s the beauty of Keano.
When being nice goes against your very nature, it must take something special to provoke such unnatural emotions.
Following months of trawling through the internet, we’ve managed to find five (!) instances when Keane was actually nice to people…
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Billy Gilmour
Rumour has it Fabinho had to buy a ticket to regain entry to Stamford Bridge after that nutmeg from Gilmour.
The little 18-year-old’s performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup was so impressive, even Keane was overwhelmed with awe.
In fact, he even put his cup of tea down so he could work out who the kid was.
He did take a swipe at the BBC’s commetary team in the process, just in case you were worried.
I was sitting in front of the TV with a cup of tea and a bit of chocolate, I didn’t have the volume on,” he said.
As the game started I literally got out of my seat, which I very rarely do, and I thought, Who is this kid?
There are certain traits you want from a midfielder, quality on the ball, football intelligence, composure.
Billy Gilmour was named ‘Man of the Match’ in back-to-back games before football was called off
He had everything, it was one of the best performances I have seen in a long, long time.
The downside for the kid now is hes got to back it up. Its a different kind of test for him now to back it up
Just his general play I thought it was like a world class player. Thats what he looked like straight away.
I thought it was one of their experienced lads and then I kept a close eye on him for the rest of the game and everything he done throughout the game just had quality written all over it.
Obviously hes a small kid but he has a big composure about him and Im looking forward to seeing him again today.
Kevin De Bruyne
It’s not hard to appreciate the brilliance of De Bruyne, even for Keane.
But it must be difficult for him to talk about the Belgium maestro, especially given he plays for Manchester United’s fierce rivals City.
With absolutely no criticism forthcoming, Keane opts for praise and focusses all that mean energy on himself instead.
“He’s brilliant. He impacts the game in terms of goals and assists and he has that running power,” Keane told Sky Sports.
“The one thing he does look is in control of everything and I spent half of my career fighting with the ball.
“But he always looks like he knows what he is doing. He has great vision and we take him for granted. I almost expect that from him and that’s what happens when you’re a top player. He’s just so consistent.”
De Bruyne is one of the few men worthy of Keane’s praise
Darren Fletcher
Maybe Keane is actually a really lovely bloke, and it’s time for us to change the narrative?
According to his former midfield partner Fletcher, the Irishman was nice to him nine times out of ten.
“The great thing about Roy Keane is that he says ten things to you,” Fletcher said.
“One of them is classic Roy Keane where he has a go at you, lets you know and is really harsh on you.
“The other nine times, he gives you a compliment, but nobody hears about that or wants to remember that because it is not a good story to tell. But that is the way I remember Roy Keane.
“Roy Keane was fantastic with me. Walking off the pitch beside Roy Keane and him saying to you, ‘fantastic today son, I could play for another ten years with you beside me in midfield.’
“Nobody hears that and it made me feel like a million dollars.
“The confidence I got from those words from Roy Keane massively outweighed the handful of times when he had a go at me and rightly so, because the levels or my standards were not that of a Manchester United player coming through, which is completely normal.”
Keane was the perfect mentor for Fletcher at United
Bruno Fernandes
There’s nothing better than when everyone gets carried away and then Keane just ruins the mood. We live for those moments.
Like when Ian Wright and Gary Neville were lauding England for losing 2-1 to Croatia at the World Cup before Keane pointed out they were actually a bit rubbish.
So you can imagine our disappointment when he joined Manchester United fans on the Bruno Fernandes train.
Even still, it was a classic Keane compliment: he’s great, because he’s a bit horrible.
“We often talk about players taking time to settle at a club – it’s not taken him long has it?” Roy Keane told Sky Sports.
“He seems a very good personality. It’s obviously a huge move for him, but he seems to be enjoying it. He’s got a little bit of arrogance about him.
“He’s brought leadership, but I think he’s brought it in a different way,” added Keane.
“People talk about leadership in terms of making tackles, but he’s just given everyone a lift, and that comes down to his quality.”
Bruno Fernandes has been a huge hit at Manchester United so far
Cristiano Ronaldo
Seventeen-year-old Ronaldo didn’t strike you as someone who would’ve been friends with Keane: flashy, arrogant, and not immediately effective for the team.
But, in a way that only Keane can, he loved Ronaldo the minute the Portugal star arrived at Manchester United.
I liked the lad straightaway. He had a nice presence about him, and a good attitude,” he wrote in his autobiography.
He was amazing. He was immediately one of the hardest working players at United. Most of the players I knew worked hard, but Ronaldo had the talent on top of the work rate.
He was good-looking and he knew it. He was vain in that sense at the mirror. He was a big lad, a big unit. Id think, Good on yeh. Looking at some of the other lads in front of the mirror, Id think, Yeh f***in nugget.
But Ronaldo had an innocence to him, and a niceness. I dont think he ever slackened off, or that he was ever more worried about the mirror than his game. I always felt that football was his love.
Keane and Ronaldo were team-mates at Manchester United