McAteer on Saipan: “I thought one of them was going to throw a punch”

30 April 1997; Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy pictured at the final whistle after his side's defeat to Romania. World Cup Qualifier, Romania v Republic of Ireland, Bucharest, Romania. Soccer. Picture credit; David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Jason McAteer has given his perspective on the infamous Saipan controversy in his new book, Blood, Sweat and McAteer.

The former Liverpool winger claims that there were fears in the squad that the “hatred” between Keane and manager Mick McCarthy would lead to a physical fight in the squad meeting room at the Saipan Hyatt Regency Hotel.

McAteer gives a detailed account of the training camp, and reveals that all the players were “livid” when the training gear did not arrive to Saipan on time.

The book explains how the tension erupted on the day Keane’s controversial interview was published, and that things came to a head at a team meeting;

“I’m in the box seat, right next to Roy. The vein on his temple is throbbing. He’s trading insults with Mick. Tony Hickey moves between them. It looks like one of them is going to throw a punch.”

The argument culminated in McCarthy telling his captain to “fuck off home,” and McAteer claims that Keane’s behaviour was calculated;

“It was almost like he wanted Mick to make a big deal of it in front of the lads and give him an excuse to get out of Dodge.”

McAteer then went to Keane’s hotel room for answers, under the pretense of asking the Man United midfielder to return some DVDs McAteer had loaned him.

“I want to have it out with Roy. I do go to his room with the idea of getting back some DVDs I’d lent him but my real motive is to see if Roy is really serious about going home. I get to his room and knock and he answers the door quickly.

I can see Mick Byrne just inside the room. I ask for my DVDs back but it’s obvious that Roy doesn’t want to have a conversation with me so I leave them to it.Now we have a World Cup to play without one of the best midfielders in the world. And no DVDs!”


An excerpt of Blood, Sweat and McAteer appeared in this weekend’s Sunday Independent.

Written by david_smith

YBIG SHOP 300*250

“Ireland are England’s reserves”

Irish Abroad: Wilshere heaps praise on Arter