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Sunday 23 July 2017

Top four fuss shameful: Roy

Finishing fourth in Premier League is nothing to celebrate, says Keane

At the annual Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony yesterday at Tallaght Stadium were (from left) Laya Susansabu, Andrew Tran, David Stanton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Chantelle Doyle, Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane and Huimi Roy
At the annual Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony yesterday at Tallaght Stadium were (from left) Laya Susansabu, Andrew Tran, David Stanton TD, Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Chantelle Doyle, Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane and Huimi Roy

The city of Manchester is nervously on the edge waiting to see the outcome of the race for fourth place in the Premier League and the Champions League slot which accompanies it.

But for Roy Keane, the idea of clubs celebrating the 'achievement' of making the top four is nothing less than shameful.

The former United captain was back on Irish soil in the last 24 hours, attending an event in Tallaght for Show Racism the Red Card's Creative Competition Awards, where kids from across the country did their own bit to show the red card to racism.

That blight on football has become even more pronounced in recent days with FIFPRO, the worldwide body which represents players, was forced to issue a statement backing Sulley Muntari over the disgusting abuse he suffered while playing for Pescara away to Cagliari last weekend, and the lack of action from the Italian football authorities to deal with it.

Keane went on to speak about anti-racism initiatives like the one honoured in Tallaght yesterday as he contrasted the mono-cultural Ireland which he left in 1989 to the one he sees now. "I have children myself and if they and everyone else could do what the kids are doing in this room then I think the world would be a different place," Keane said.

But he was also irked by the amount of fuss over that race for fourth in England this season.

"When I see clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United celebrating getting to the top four I cringe a little, I really do, top clubs," Keane said.

"Do you think Real Madrid and Barcelona would be celebrating getting into fourth? No. Come on, get a grip. If you're at a big club then it's about getting your hands on a trophy that's the name of the game; the glory.

"People talk about the top four because of the financial rewards etcetera and it was great for Leicester to win the league last year but for the big teams, the Manchester Uniteds and Chelseas and Arsenals, to be celebrating fourth....I say, shame on you."

In terms of what matters, the title, Keane fears it's too big an ask for the club he supported as a boy, Tottenham.

"I still think Chelsea will get the job done. They are in good form and they have to slip up twice. I think the gap of four points is just too much for Spurs but they have made great progress over the last few years," Keane said.

"They have outstanding players in attacking positions, they're about to have new stadium so it's a good time for Spurs although, having said that, you have to try to get your hands on one or two trophies and they have come up just short in the FA Cup semi-finals." One man who has not come short in his career is Keane's former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo who Keane holds out as a role model.

"I was getting a bit older at United, he was only 17, he'd come from Portugal and it was all a new experience for him, a different language but he embraced it. Everyone around the dressing room tried to help him out, of course and you've got to help yourself, but he went on to be one of the game's most creative players," Keane said.

"He had a talent but on top of that you have to have a work ethic. Whatever (kids) are going to do, whether you hope to become doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, whatever you decide to do you've got to give it the best that you can and that's why I enjoy watching the likes of Ronaldo because I was lucky enough to play with him and see the hard work that he's put into it. And hard work with a bit of talent can get you a long way.

"Desire is a good word to use, it doesn't have to be about football. Whatever you want to do in life, you have to have that bit of hunger, the desire to do well in life; not everyone can play sports or football but whatever career you decide to have have that bit of desire, a bit of hunger, that's one the things that enables the great players to make a difference in the big games, the they've been doing it for years and I never get fed up of watching players like Messi, they are top players."

Keane also stressed the importance of that desire in the current Ireland squad. "We are probably short of one or two really top quality players but we make up for it with our desire," he says.

"We have a huge game coming up in June against Austria, we'll give it our all and the beauty of the working with the players that we have at the moment is that we know that they will give it 100 per cent every time they walk out on that pitch. That's all you can ever ask of people."

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