Here is the latest installment from the Roy Keane Diaries which are written by one of our forum users. For more, see www.ybig.ie/forum
I had made a big deal out of getting the team to train in Cork. I had prepared meticulously. I had scouted the training facilities all over Cork and chosen Fota Island. I couldn’t have prepared things any better.
What someone like me can’t legislate for is having a bunch of useless ****s for players. Everything I learned off Brian Clough and Ferguson about preparations went out the window. What good is preparation without ability and passion?
If the Irish media needed a reality check before the Euros the game at Turners Cross provided it. O’Neill was confident our second string side would roll over the boys from Belarus. I could sense complacency around the camp. I remember the night we qualified for the Euros. I got the feeling that night that some players and maybe even some of the management felt they could relax a bit.
They took their foot off the pedal that night. We lost the hunger. Maybe I had drifted into the comfort zone myself. I kept asking myself ‘am I doing enough?’ I am not sure O’Neill was asking himself the same question. Maybe he should have been.
What was supposed to be my glorious return to Cork turned into a f**king shambles. We were f**king hammered. Too many of the players felt they just had to turn up to win. It was only Belarus. A breeze. 20 mins into the game we were 1-0 down.
The players looked around at each other waiting for someone to save the day. Aiden can’t you win it for us? Gibson, you played in the Champions League semi final. Can’t you score us a goal? In the meantime we went 2-0 down.
O’Neill looks like a lost schoolboy. Eventually the message hits home. He makes a few subs. I roll my eyes. It took him an hour to see these bunch of wasters were underperforming. I could see it after two minutes.
We lost the game that night. But we lost our dignity too. I had to face the mocking and the sneers of the neighbours in Mayfield. My family would be mortified. The shame. Some Dublin w**kers shouted out ‘Keane ye Cork bastard’ as we boarded the coach back to Fota.
I was angry. At them? No. At myself. I had the opportunity to put things f**king right and I didn’t. I saw the complacency setting in. I saw it coming. I saw it in O’Neill. I had mentioned it to him a few months earlier but the message didn’t hit home.
I felt betrayed. ‘Maybe I should go? They don’t listen to me so maybe this isn’t for me?’
‘No Roy. We’ve qualified and maybe we can turn things around by the Sweden game. We can stop the rot..’
I was in my head that night on the coach journey home. On the way through the city we passed Sidetrax Disco. It lifted my mood. I remember being a young Forest player on my weekends home getting into some fights in there. I chuckled. But maybe the biggest fight of my career was just around the corner…