Republic of Ireland international central defender Richard Keogh has broken his silence on being stripped of the captaincy at Derby County to insist that he remains committed to the club - and to take a swipe at his critics.
Keogh had skippered the side for three seasons before new manager Paul Clement took the armband off him and handed it to summer signing, Chris Baird.
Keogh said: “Not being captain hasn’t changed me as a person or a player. I will carry on doing what I have always done and that is pass on advice to the younger players and just try to set high standards for myself in training and on the pitch.
“I have kept my head down, trained hard pre-season and just focused on myself.
“I heard Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany talk about captaincy last season, saying when he was captain he sometimes maybe focused on other things around him rather than his own game. Maybe that happened to me a little bit but I still felt I kept my performances very high.”
Keogh was under fire from fans last season and thinks that might have been to do with what happened in the 2014 play-off final when his misplaced clearance fell to Queens Park Rangers striker Bobby Zamora who scored the winning goal.
“When you are captain, you are the figurehead of everything and it comes with the territory,” added Keogh.
“People always look for someone to blame and maybe it was a follow-on from Wembley, I don’t know. Maybe some people still had that in their head. “I would like to think my performance levels have been quite high since I have been at the club. The fans are entitled to their opinion. They all want the club to do well, just as I do but I didn’t think some of the criticism was fair. That’s football and you move on.
“I don’t think the criticism affected me. I am not big on social media, mainly for that reason. Why would you want to see negative comments about yourself? What good is that going to do anyone?”
Keogh’s wife, Charlie, also came under fire on social media and he said: “That was difficult, it wasn’t very nice.
“If people want to say stuff about me or comment on how I play football, that’s fine. When it gets a little bit more personal and towards my wife, I don’t think that is right. She was very upset and had every right to be. Seeing her upset made me upset. I was very proud of what I did in my three years as captain. I can hold my head high over how I conducted myself, it was a special time for me.
“We achieved a lot in those three years but we couldn’t quite get over the line and get promoted. I am pretty confident we can do it this time. I have given my all for this football club ever since I walked through the door. My first season we finished 10th, the highest position since the club came out of the Premier League, and I won player of the year.
“In my second season we got to the play-off final with a record points total and goals’ tally and in my third season I got in the Championship Team of the Year.
“I’d like to think I have helped take this club forward - not just me, of course, but the great players we have here at Derby County.”
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