Quotes on: Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira

Roy Keane

“He looked like a Manchester United player as soon as I saw him. We played him at Forest and the way he played told me a lot about the lad. His determination, his energy, his attitude to losing and winning told me something about him before we even got him.” Sir Alex Ferguson

“With Roy Keane present, keeping the ball was never a problem. I said so from the minute he came to the club. ‘He never gives the ball away, this guy,’ I told the staff and players.” — Sir Alex Ferguson

“If Roy Keane thought you weren’t pulling your weight he would be right on top of you, straight away. Many players faced his wrath for committing that crime and there would be no place to hide from him. I never felt that was a bad aspect of his character.” — Sir Alex Ferguson

“It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.” — Sir Alex Ferguson (about Keane’s legendary performance against Juventus in the second leg of the 1998-9 UEFA Champions League season)

“Roy’s obsession with winning and the demands he put on others made him the most influential player in the dressing room. He became a great captain through that and, to my mind, he is the best player I have had in all of my time here. Over the years when they start picking the best teams of all time, he will be in there.” — Sir Alex Ferguson (on Keane’s retirement in 2006)

“Every training session would be like a cup final; he would drive you on in every single game, and he was one of the reasons we got so many late goals, he would drive the team forward. With him in the team you always felt like you had a chance.” Ryan Giggs

“The best captain I played under. A brilliant player who led by example. He would be the first name on my team sheet.” — Ryan Giggs

“You never felt you were beaten when Keaney was in your team. He never threw in the towel. I don’t think any of the rest of us were less determined to win than Keaney, but what makes him different is the way he gets it across, his anger if you like. More than any other player I’ve seen, he affects players around him.” — Ryan Giggs


“He was a great player, beyond question. A midfielder of extraordinary tenacity and box-to-box dynamism, with a ferocious tackle and an underrated ability to use the ball astutely. But perhaps his greatest gift was to create a standard of performance which demanded the very best from his team.” Gary Neville (in his autobiography “Red: My Autobiography”)

“There wasn’t a player at United who could match Roy’s influence in my time at the club.” — Gary Neville

“I remember my first training session: I got the ball from the keeper, I passed it to Gary Neville at right back and Keane just exploded, saying: ‘You passed it sideways, that’s the easy pass! You’re not at Leeds or West Ham now!’ At the time I thought: ‘What’s he talking about?’ Then when I got home, I sat and thought about it and thought: ‘Yeah, you’ve got to try and affect the game’.” — Rio Ferdinand

“Very strong and clever, a really good captain for Man United, the best midfielder I have ever seen in my life. Very powerful and strong in the tackle, an absolutely brilliant player.” — Andrei Kanchelskis

“For a complete player, without a doubt Keano. Apart from the bad side he had, he was the complete midfield player for me. He was an inspiration, a leader, could score you vital goals, he could tackle when he had too, he would be naughty when he had too but playing alongside him for three or four seasons helped him improve my game a lot.” — Paul Ince

“Roy was unbelievable to play alongside and someone you could always trust. I soon learned that if you weren’t on your game he would be on top of you to make sure you were playing your part for the team. I had a few bollockings from him, but that made you work harder to avoid them. He was a great leader and captain: he drove us on and he was our manager on the pitch.” Paul Scholes

“Box to box, probably the best midfield player in terms of being an engine for the team that I’ve played with. He never really had bad games, (and) was a good leader in midfield.” Peter Schmeichel

“He was the best in midfield; he could play everywhere. He could play the holding role and be defensive, but then he could suddenly burst forward and score goals. He was so intelligent in how he played the game and let me tell you, it felt good to have him behind me for four seasons. He’d win the ball and then give it to me. And what a character!” Eric Cantona

“I played with him at United for a bit over three seasons, and we won a lot of trophies together. He’s the type of player who pushes everybody and keeps everybody sharp. He played very simple, and it looked very easy when you watch him play, but he was so important for the team.” — Jaap Stam

“Every team needs a player like Keane, someone who can control the game and dominate the tempo. Tactically and positionally he always got it right and is very good in one-on-one duels.” — Jaap Stam

“Roy was probably the biggest influence on my career. He would come down hard on me if I ever did anything wrong but he made me realise what it meant to be a Manchester United player.” — Darren Fletcher (2010)

“He [Keane] was our captain, he was our leader and he left a mark: where we are now is down to him, our dedication comes from the standards he set. The rules about time-keeping, about getting in a half-hour early, they were his instructions back in the day and those traditions continue.” — Darren Fletcher (2010)

“He was a great influence, really. If Roy had a go at you, he did it because he cared. He was the best captain you could wish for. He would tear you to shreds on the pitch if you gave away the ball, “get your effing touch right, effing this, effing that” but, as soon as you got into the dressing room, it was over. He was a winner. I’ve met dedicated professionals but he had something else.” — Darren Fletcher (2010)

“Roy Keane was a constant leader on the field, no matter what type of game we played. Even in training, he was driven by his determination. He had the passion and desire to win and had all the attributes of a leader, by voice and by performances.” — Mikael Silvestre

“Keane kept it simple, yet had a great engine and could run box-to-box all day.” — Michael Owen

“I look at Roy Keane, at his good points, and think, if I had someone in my team with that heart, I’d be delighted.” — Stuart Pearce

“He led by example on the pitch, got the best out of other players, had great energy and could take a game by the scruff of the neck. If things weren’t going well, his attitude would change that.” — Robbie Keane

“He’d break up play and keep things ticking over. Great energy, and another great leader, always commanding. People respected him, and he’d give you a rollocking if you weren’t doing your job properly, but it was always to help the team. He could play a bit, too.” — Shay Given

“If I could pick one player in my team, I would always pick Roy Keane, in front of any other players I’ve played with. Keano had everything; he was a leader, a great player, and probably the best I ever played with.” — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

“You need someone in a team to dictate the pace of the play and Roy does that perfectly. He defends – he’s a good tackler and a good header of the ball – and starts attacks, and passes the ball with metronomic accuracy. He works tirelessly and demands so much from his team-mates. When things are tough, like they were when United were 2-0 down in Turin in the 1999 European Cup Semi-Final, Keane gets going. But even when things are going well, he drives the team on.” — Teddy Sheringham

“He doesn’t know this, but everybody (in the Manchester United squad when Keane joined) was buzzing to have him there. We knew that he was a special player, we knew that he loved to have a bit of a moan, but we knew that he could produce the goods week in, week out, and we knew he was a winner.” — Dion Dublin

“I only played with him for two seasons at the end of my career, and he had some injuries, but I saw more than enough to appreciate his brilliance. He is one of the best players I have ever seen. Not only that, but he could motivate players too. He was the boss too. He is also a good man.” — Laurent Blanc

“What I like about him is the fact that he wouldn’t talk; he’d take the kick, he wouldn’t say anything, then, on the next one, he’d give it to you and he would expect, of course, that you say nothing. He’s not the kind of player who talks a lot.  So he’ll take the kick, he will give back, but I like him – he’s quite fair.” — Patrick Vieira

“We had similar qualities as players. We were both determined, we wanted to win, and we were both leaders of our teams. That’s why I always loved to play against him. [ . . . ] despite the rivalry, there has always been respect between us. We challenged ourselves, we battled, but we always retained respect for each other.” — Patrick Vieira

“Both physically and tactically a giant of the game.” — Emmanuel Petit

“Some remember Roy for the bad things he did, but he was so influential. Wow. Manchester United were a totally different team without him.” — Gus Poyet

“Roy Keane is one of the greatest players to grace the game of football.” — Gordon Strachan

“I would say he was the best player I’ve ever seen passing the ball 15 yards through the gaps in midfield to his strikers. He always looked forward, and he punched those balls in with such pace and ferocity. A world-class performer.” — Matt Holland

“His character, his desire, his determination, his will to win, his inspirational performances on the field; put all these attributes together, it made him one of the very best.” — Matt Holland

Patrick Vieira

“I saw Patrick for the first time for 45 minutes in an end-of-the-season game against AS Monaco. He was 17 years of age, and dominated the midfield. It was his first game for Cannes, and straight away after the game I said this guy will make a great career.” — Arsene Wenger

“He’s an unbelievable player, because he has everything you would want to have in the middle of the park: tall, but quick feet, good technique but fantastic in the fight, aggressive but calm, and very brave. He didn’t hide from anybody, and the more you gave him, the stronger he became.” — Arsene Wenger

“He was not interested, Patrick, when it was not hard. He wanted the fight, and he wanted to be forced to fight. He goes to Sheffield United on the Tuesday night and Real Madrid on the Wednesday night and plays exactly the same: he is ready to fight to win. What more can you say that explains why he has played so many games [ . . . ]. He was a tremendous player, Patrick.” — Arsene Wenger

“Patrick was a great player for us, one of the greatest in the club’s history and I feel I had a special relationship with him because I made him come here. I think his impact, not only at Arsenal but in English football overall, was just tremendous.” — Arsene Wenger

“I respect hugely what he has done. He was a massive success with Arsenal, is a legend here and will always remain so. I feel I have done well for Patrick in his life, so I am rather proud of what we have achieved together. He has done so well for nine years for us, who has given us nine top, top years? A few players before, but of the foreign players I can only remember Patrick [and Bergkamp].” — Arsene Wenger (quote from “www.arsenal.com”)

“I don’t think we’ll ever be bosom buddies buying each other a drink in the pub but out of everybody I ever faced as a player, he drove me to become better. Obviously Arsenal were the team that really challenged Manchester United and, for a short time, went past us. And as their leader Patrick was immense. Without doubt I’d put him alongside (Zinedine) Zidane, (Paul) Scholes, (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard as one of the very best I’ve ever played with or against, he was that good. On his day, when he was driving Arsenal on with the sheer force of his personality, he was unplayable.” — Roy Keane

“A great all-round midfielder. I used to look forward to playing him because he made every one of us raise our game. Arsenal had a great side, but I firmly believe without him they would’ve been 25 per cent weaker.” Peter Schmeichel

“I was young when I played Patrick (and Roy Keane), and they bossed me. I remember I was a young boy, Patrick kept knocking it over my head [ . . . ], he had those really long legs, and I really admired them coming through.” Frank Lampard

“When you have a back four protected by a Vieira [ . . . ], there is little the opposition can do. Patrick brought a dimension and presence. He was a warrior, a box-to-box player.” — Mikael Silvestre

“I don’t think a lot of players have done what he has done for this Club (Arsenal). He has been a big inspiration for me.” — Cesc Fabregas (quote from “www.arsenal.com”)

“A monster, his partnership with Emmanuel Petit was as good as anything we have seen. His performance against Liverpool in the 2001 FA Cup final stands out. He was magnificent and didn’t deserve to be on the losing side. In the dressing room afterwards, everyone kept saying: ‘how good was Vieira?’ Steven Gerrard still talks about that game as Vieira made him realise he had to climb a few more levels to reach the top. It says everything that clubs, when they sign young midfielders, hope they turn into ‘the next Vieira’.” — Jamie Carragher

“Two players in one. He has tremendous physique, but also sophisticated technique. And, what is very important for a modern midfielder, he has the goleador [‘goalscorer’] instinct. I think he is still the best player in his position, although he has problems with his muscles.” Marcel Desailly (2007)

“Not only is Patrick a big, strong player, he’s very intelligent and a great reader of the game. An amazing athlete with enormous energy – he covers huge distances over 90 minutes.” — Tony Adams


“(A) leader and natural-born winner. He has everything you could want from a midfielder. He can attack, defend and score goals. He’s brilliant at taking the ball in tight spots in the middle of the park and starting attacks.” — Ian Wright

“He had everything. He could score goals, tackle, was a leader and a fearsome player in his pomp.” — Alan Smith

“He was a fantastic player for Arsenal. If he was playing at that level you’ve got a player who is very, very competitive but is also very skillful and has ability on the ball. That’s what a lot of people didn’t realise about Patrick. He could break up opposition attacks but he was also powerful and skilful enough to then set his own team on a counter-attack.” — Nigel Winterburn

“Vieira was athletic; he dominated that area and then brought goals into his game.” — Phil Thompson

“I was lucky enough to play with Vieira and he was top draw. Very tall and gangly but very skilful at the same time – he’d see a pass, could tackle, scored goals. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do, and he was hard as nails as well.” — Paul Merson

“You look at Denis Bergkamp and you look at Thierry Henry and people say they are great players and rightly so. There are statues of these guys outside the Emirates Stadium, but without Patrick winning the ball and giving it to them they would almost be redundant. But sometimes during the week it was as if his non-football playing brother turned up for training instead, we used to call him Mr. Floppy, but on a match day he was a different animal.” — Martin Keown

“What a player! He was at the very top for his country and for Arsenal. He’s a winner. He just oozes that. Everything used to hurt him but he got through it to get out on the pitch. He would play through anything and it was a real pleasure to play alongside him.” — Sol Campbell

“He was like our anchorman.  We would say to him ‘Patrick, just sit in front of the back four for two or three minutes, while the opponents add pressure’, and he’d do it and get on with it. [ . . . ] Then all of a sudden he’d have this burst of energy, and could score great goals, and became a great Arsenal captain. [ . . . ] He did it over a long time, became captain, took over from Tony (Adams), and took it onto another level.” — David Seaman

“For me, (Patrick) Vieira, is one of the best players I ever played with. The guy was a monster when I played and he (taught) me a lot outside and inside the pitch.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“He is a legend. Playing with him was very easy, and he was the kind of guy you learn a lot from while training with him. He was a fighter, and you need that fighting spirit because not every game is going to be easy.” — Florent Malouda

“Patrick was an incredibly gifted midfielder who could not only defend but move the ball forward with great power. Not a lot of players in the history of the game compare to Patrick.” Thierry Henry


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