Dubliner tells tale when Roy Keane Had His Back Against Nicky Butt

Dubliner tells tale when Roy Keane Had His Back Against Nicky Butt

MANCHESTER UNITED during the 90's and noughties were a revered team in English football. They conquered all around them year after year, but one Dubliner who joined the club as a 15-year-old in 1996 revealed how the then Manchester captain had his back against teammate Nicky Butt. 

Kevin Grogan joined the club on a full-time basis back in 1996 and would then become part of Brian Kerr's U16 team which won the European Championship.

The Dubliners career was halted by numerous injuries. These included a pelvis problem that forced the teenager into early retirement on his 21st birthday. He tried to make a second go of it at clubs like Millwall and in the League of Ireland with St Pat's and Bray Wanderers, but called it day after.

Grogan spoke to the Long Hall podcast about his time at Manchester United and revealed that Roy Keane proved to be a friendly face.

Manchester United Legends v Republic of Ireland & Celtic Legends - Liam Miller Memorial Match : News Photo Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

"I went back to train for a week,"

"Just randomly, Roy Keane happened to be on the plane. He was in Ireland for some reason. I hadn't seen him in about a year. I was young and shy, didn't know if he'd remember me.

"To be fair, he touched me on the back and said, 'How are you keeping, Kev? I hear you're doing really well with UCD'. He waited for me on the other side of the plane, and offered me a lift home.

"The first day, I trained with the youths, the second with the reserves, and the third day I was with the first team. At the start of training, you'd do a bit of keep ball. We were doing one touch, piggy in the middle.

"I just remember Nicky Butt absolutely pinging the ball at me. It was impossible for me to control it with one touch. It bounced off me. I went to go into the middle to grab the bib. Roy Keane stepped in and said to Nicky Butt, 'Don't ever do that to him again'. He told me, 'Do not take that big'. It was nice to have someone like that having your back.

"I met him in the car park that day again. He asked if I needed a lift. I said I was fine because I was going with John O'Shea.

"People have this perception of him but he was great fun around the training ground. [High] standards, yes, demanding, yes. He was a decent guy."

Grogan also  described Alex Ferguson as being the nicest man you could meet. That changed one day when the 15-year-old saw the manager berating someone on the training ground stairs.

"He had this amazing knack of remembering names, whether it was schoolboy players at 8, 9, 10, 11 or parents or staff," Grogan said regarding Ferguson.

"He just knew everyone's name. It was a massive trait because it made everyone feel part of it.

"I remember one time Alex Ferguson stopped our training session with the youth team. He brought us over to the first team, just to talk us through why these players are in the first team.

"The first thing he said was, 'Look at Roy Keane. He never gives the ball away. He's a percentage player'. Literally the first time Roy Keane got the ball, he gave it away. Everyone just started laughing."

Grogan now lives in the US where he runs Kevin Grogan Soccer.