‘A typical Arsenal bully’ – Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira revisit infamous Highbury tunnel bust-up

‘A typical Arsenal bully’ – Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira revisit infamous Highbury tunnel bust-up

ROY KEANE and Patrick Vieira have revisited one of their most infamous bust-ups.

As the captains of Manchester United and Arsenal respectively the two midfielders regularly clashed in the Premier League.

Keane presided over an unprecedented period of dominance at Old Trafford while Vieira led the Gunners to the first and so far, only unbeaten season in the Premier League.

As players the two were regularly at loggerheads both on and off the pitch.

However, in the years since, the pair have developed a mutual respect, having starred during what many would view as a golden era in English football.

Both Keane and Vieira are currently serving as pundits on ITV during Euro 2020.

It’s provided some memorable moments; from their reaction to Antonio Rudiger’s “nibble” on Paul Pogba to Keane getting caught standing on his tip-toes for a picture with Vieira.

However, the undoubted highlight for Arsenal, Manchester United and Premier League football fans as a whole came when the pair recalled one of their most infamous set-tos.

Sat alongside fellow Red Devil Gary Neville, Keane recalled his infamous clash with Vieira in the tunnel at Highbury back in 2005.

The game hadn’t even kicked off when all hell broke loose as the teams lined-up with Keane laying down the law after witnessing Vieira’s treatment of Neville.

The Frenchman was unhappy with the United defender’s robust tackling during an encounter earlier in the season at Old Trafford, where the Red Devils ended Arsenal’s Invincibles’ unbeaten record in a controversial 2-0 win remembered for bad tackles and dodgy refereeing.

It was a bust-up caught on camera by Sky Sports and remains the stuff of English football legend – referee Graham Poll had to keep the pair apart with Keane warning his counterpart “I’ll see you out there.”

Speaking on ITV, Keane recalled the incident with a wry smile.

He said: "It was the relativity of the two clubs, as an Arsenal player you always wanted to play against the best and United was the best team.

"It was challenging, it was tough, it was really difficult and obviously one of Gary's strengths was intimidating players.

"That time I was getting really frustrated with the number of challenges on our players.

"So as a captain and a leader I wanted to put him under pressure a little bit."

What Vieira hadn’t counted on, however, was Keane getting wind of his attempts at intimidating Neville – and the Irishman wasn’t having any of it.

Neville recalled: "Before we got into the tunnel, coming in from the warm-up, [Vieira]'s chasing me up the tunnel screaming at me.

"I go into the changing room, sat down and said, 'Vieira's a bit annoyed!'.

"So Roy heard that."

According to Keane, things only escalated after he overheard Vieira continuing his verbal diatribe against Neville.

He said: "To be honest, I was trying to mind my own business.

"I was focusing on the game and was quite calm, getting in the zone.

"Gary was a little bit upset and worried. I think I said to Gary, 'Just forget about it, we need to focus on the game'.

"And then of course Patrick wouldn't let it go - a typical Arsenal bully.

"Then he started in the tunnel before the game and that's where I got a little bit irritated."

Ultimately it was Keane and United who had the last laugh, winning the game 4-2 in a match memorable for arguably the best goal of Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea’s career.

However, Chelsea ended up the real winners that season, claiming a first Premier League title at a canter.

It was a watershed moment that signalled the beginning of the end for the Arsenal/Manchester United duopoly that had dominated the Premier League for the previous eight years.