COULD the feud that began in 2002 finally be coming to an end?
Jason McAteer has made moves to draw a line under one of the most famous feuds in Irish football, admitting he now has sympathy with Roy Keane over Saipan.
In his autobiography, McAteer was fiercely critical of Keane’s exit ahead of the 2002 World Cup, even suggesting he started the row with McCarthy as an excuse to miss the tournament.
“It was almost like he wanted Mick to make a big deal of it in front of the lads and give him an excuse to get out of Dodge.”
Since then, Keano wrote about McAteer in his own autobiography, calling him "stupid", and there have been several altercations on and off the field.
Speaking in an interview with betsafe.com, McAteer now seems to be finally changing his tune:
“That incident, we all see it through different eyes, I see it through my eyes and my take on it is completely different from say Gary Breen’s or Shay Given’s or Gary Kelly’s. We all see it through our own eyes. Roy will see it through his, and he will stand by his decision.
“As I’ve got older and a bit wiser, more forgiving probably, there’s a slight sympathy towards Roy in that circumstance when I look back.
Because arguably he was the best midfielder in the world at that time.:
He even went so far as to express sympathy with Roy over the incident that he has chastised him for several times before:
“My sympathy comes because he missed that World Cup at a time when he was the best player in that position, and it was his stage, and he missed that. But that’s something that he has to deal with.”
McAteer also hails the Ireland assistant manager’s inspirational presence around an Irish dressing room.
“All the players would have grown up with probably Roy as their hero. So that presence in the dressing room, him being in the dressing room will add something – they’ll all listen, they’ll all look up to him, they’ll all admire what he’s done as a player. If he needs to get a response out of them, he will know how to do it and they will respond.”
Though he says Keane and Ireland manager Martin O’Neill are “chalk and cheese”.
“Martin is much more of a man manager; he’ll have an arm around their shoulder. I wouldn’t say he’s probably a Rafa Benitez where he’s tactically astute; he’ll set them up in a way that he feels will get a result. And because of his man-management style, he’ll get a response from the players on the pitch. Where Roy will be a bit more vocal, it will be that good cop bad cop in the dressing room. Which Roy obviously is the bad cop."
Few could argue with that evaluation.
Hopefully, McAteer will continue to voice his support for the assistant manager when the boys in green take on the Danes in Saturday's World Cup qualifier.