Let’s face it, the debate over who holds the title of the greatest Irish football player of all time has been a long-standing and passionate one – and who’s to say who is right or wrong? Everyone has their own opinions and everyone has their own opinions and preferences. However, among the many contenders for this prestigious title, there is one name that often comes to mind – none other than Roy Keane. But is he really the greatest Irish player?
Well, determining whether Roy Keane is truly the best-ever Irish football player is subjective and it is certainly a contentious matter – so here, we will try and settle the argument once and for all.
Roy Keane’s Incredible Career
Whether you love him or hate him (and he certainly brings out strong feelings in most football fans), there’s no denying that Roy Keane had an exceptional football career. Born in Cork, Ireland, in 1971, he first rose to prominence as a midfielder… and right from the beginning he earned a reputation for his leadership skills, his tenacity, and more importantly, his incredible skills on the pitch.
His professional career first began with Nottingham Forest… However, it wasn’t long before he made the move to Manchester United, where he achieved massive success under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson. During his time with Manchester United, Keane won numerous Premier League titles, FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League. They were the team to beat – Keane was Captain of a squad that was always top of any football betting online odds… and his legacy at the club is remembered to this day. He stands as a key figure of the time when they really were giants.
What Made Roy Keane Stand Out?
But what was it that made Keane stand out from the rest? Well, ask anyone that faced him – he was a real force to be reckoned with on the field. He had a fierce determination, unmatched and fearless tackling prowess,- and an ability to dominate the midfield that was unmatched. He was the engine of a Manchester United team that was practically unbeatable – and he set the tone of any game, with his unwavering commitment and almost Mensa-level football IQ.
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Back to Keane. His leadership qualities were clearly shown during his captaincy of both Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland national team. He always had a huge influence on any game, whether he was on or off the pitch… and, as such, he left a permanent mark on the clubs and teams he was part of.
Beyond the Trophies
Certainly, Roy Keane’s trophy cabinet is probably one of the best out there. However, his impact on the sport goes way beyond the collection of silverware. As a player, he managed to instil a winning mentality and work ethic in anyone he played alongside… and this extended way beyond the Manchester United locker room. His spectacular fall out with manager Alex Ferguson – a stern dressing-room rebuke from Alex Ferguson – became legendary in the sport and simply underlined his commitment to excellence at any cost.
Keane had an uncompromising attitude and fierce competitive spirit that endeared him to fans, teammates and even his managers. He may have been stern, tough – and a little bit scary, but he was the embodiment of what it meant to be a leader in football.
Who Are The Contenders?
Although there is certainly a good argument for Roy Keane to take the title, he still faces some stiff competition for the accolade. Other names often thrown into the mix include Johnny Giles, Liam Brady, Paul McGrath and, of course, Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer, Robbie Keane.
Ultimately, determining the greatest Irish football player ever is subjective and is usually influenced by personal preferences, biases – and the players you remember the most. Right now, Roy Keane’s case for being the greatest Irish football player ever is strong, but it is never definitive, nor will it ever be. The debate will, no doubt continue to rage on. However, whether Roy Keane is the greatest or not, he will always be an iconic figure in Irish football history.