MANCHESTER UNITED legend Andy Cole has revealed how his former captain Roy Keane kept his spirits up during his health struggles.
Cole, 52, was speaking to Late Late Show host Patrick Kielty about how his life has changed since a 2017 kidney transplant.
The former striker told Kielty how his health had deteriorated before the operation, while he still has 'good days and bad days' as he deals with the mental and physical effects of the surgery.
However, he revealed how a post-op hospital visit from football hard man Keane lifted his spirits and had him laughing fit to burst — literally.
On friday night's episode of The Late Late Show, Cole told Kielty: "I remember the nurse saying to him, 'If you can, Mr Keane, don't make him laugh'.
"You can see the stitches are very tight in my stomach and whatever.
"So he said, 'Yeah, yeah, no problems'.
"Within about five minutes he had me rolling around — I was in so much pain but Roy being Roy he continued just to make me laugh.
"I’ve always had a fantastic relationship with him.
"He was an unbelievable captain and I was fortunate to play with such a great player.
"But away from the football pitch he's always had time for me.
"You could say we're a bit alike as well but I don't think I'm as ferocious as he is.
"I like to speak my mind by not as much as he does!
"But yeah, I think when two people connect like that, it's a lot easier."
'Hard daily chore'
Cole told Kielty that before the operation, his kidney capacity dropped to 7 per cent while he was sleeping for up to 15 hours a day.
Simple tasks like getting up and walking proved difficult, while water retention saw his weight soar to 18st.
However, the five-time Premier League winner said the condition also affected him mentally.
"Knowing that I'd played football, I've been fit all my life, and then all of a sudden a random illness comes around and it's changed my whole world to be brutally honest," he said.
"Knowing that I've got to deal with whatever's in front of me… I don't think that they really explain to you what goes on when you have such a surgery."
Even after Cole's nephew offered to donate a kidney to ease his suffering, the 1993/94 Premier League Golden Boot winner said he was still daunted by the prospect of spending the rest of his life on medication.
"I look well but it's a hard daily chore just to try to stay on top of it mentally," said Cole.
He added: "Mentally, it's difficult, getting used to the medication as well is really, really tough.
"There's good days and bad days, there's days when I can't get out of bed."
Keane was United's record signing until Cole joined the Red Devils for a then British record £7m in 1995.
With the Irishman pulling the strings in midfield, Cole scored 121 goals in 275 games for United.
The pair were part of the treble-winning side of 1999 when the Old Trafford side won the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.
Cole left United in December 2001, with Keane departing four years later, however, the two reunited when the Cork native signed Cole for Sunderland in 2007.