While the initial leaks from Roy Keane’s new book generated some largely expected and occasionally unexpected headlines about what you might call the usual suspects — the likes of Alex Ferguson, Peter Schmeichel, Alf-Inge Haaland, Rio Ferdinand and Eamon Dunphy — arguably the most interesting revelations to date concern the man who, after all, ought to be the main subject of the autobiography: Roy Keane himself.
Exposing more of the private man behind the public face than ever before, the introspective Keane looks hard into the mirror and admits he isn’t always happy with what he sees.
“Anger is a useful trait,” he writes. “But when I’m backed into a corner, when I get into situations, professional or personal, I know deep down that when I lose my rag, and I might be in the right — it doesn’t matter — I know I’m going to be the loser.
“I will lose out. Saipan and the World Cup — ultimately I lost. Or when I left United, when I could have stayed a bit longer if it had been handled differently. I was the one who lost; I know that.
“That’s the madness of me. When I’m going off on one, even when I might be right, there’s a voice in my head going: ‘You’ll pay for this.’
“The self-destruct button is definitely there. And I suffer for it.
“With my drinking, I used to go missing for a few days. I think it was my way of switching off, never mind the consequences. It was my time. It was self-destructive, I can see that, but I’m still drawn to it. Not the drink — but the madness, the irresponsibility. I can be sitting at home, the most contented man on the planet. An hour later I go: ‘Jesus — it’s hard work, this.’
“Maybe ‘self-destruct’ is too strong a phrase. Maybe I play games with myself. I have great stability in my life. But then, that worries me. I like home comforts, but then I want to be this hell-raiser — but I want my porridge in the morning. I want my wife and kids around me. I’ve dipped into this madness, and I don’t like it that much. Maybe I’m like every man on the planet — I don’t know; I want a bit more than what’s on offer.
“My midlife crisis has been going for years. Someone once said to me — an ex-player and it’s going back to my drinking days — that going out with me was like going out with a time bomb.”
Yet, Keane is also at pains to dispel public misapprehensions about his personality.
“I don’t get as angry as people might think,” he writes. “But it might help me. As soon as I walk into a room, I know people are apprehensive; I know they are. They are expecting some kind of skinhead thug. So I’ve a good way of disappointing them. I think I treat people pretty well. I’ve got friends I’ve known for 30 years. If I was some impatient thug, I think they’d keep their distance from me.”
* Roy Keane: The Second Half, published by Orion Publishing, will have its official launch in Dublin tomorrow.
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