Keane 'rejected No 7 jersey offer'

Roy Keane has claimed in his new autobiography that Alex Ferguson wanted him to wear number seven at Manchester United to prevent the iconic shirt going to David Beckham.

Beckham famously wore the number during his 10 and a half years at Old Trafford, following in the footsteps of other renowned United players like Eric Cantona, Bryan Robson and George Best.

In The Second Half, Keane describes how Ferguson tried to block Beckham taking number seven after Cantona had left the club in 1997.

“At United, ’7’ was the iconic number,” Keane wrote. “When Eric Cantona left there was debate about who was going to be the next captain. I was quite relaxed about it. But there was his number, too – ’7’.

“Bryan Robson had had it before Cantona and, of course, it went back to Georgie Best. The manager pulled me into his office and said that he wanted me to wear the ’7’.

“I said, ’No, I’m not bothered.’ And he said, ’I know Becks will f**** want it and I don’t want him to have it’.”

Meanwhile, the official launch for The Second Half is set to go ahead on Thursday as originally planned despite copies of the book having accidentally been put on sale already this week.

Supermarket chain Tesco has apologised and launched an investigation after one of its stores in Burnage, Manchester committed a blunder by putting the book on its shelves on Monday – three days earlier than the scheduled release date.

National newspapers subsequently published extracts, which revealed details about the former Manchester United captain’s shock exit from the club and a drink-fuelled fight with his former team-mate Peter Schmeichel.

The plan for Thursday’s official launch had included Keane taking part in a promotional press conference that afternoon at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

And the book’s publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson confirmed on Tuesday that the event with the 43-year-old Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa assistant boss will still be happening.

A spokesperson for the publishers said: “It wasn’t part of our plan obviously (for details of the book to be in the public domain before Thursday).

“But we are adapting to the situation and carrying on with the press conference because people will still want to speak to Roy himself.”

The spokesperson said the publishers were unable to comment on the possibility of Weidenfeld & Nicolson taking legal action against Tesco, but added: “We have been in touch with Tesco and they have apologised and withdrawn any stock that was mistakenly put out.”

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