Keane admits he's no 'regrets' around 2002 Saipan debacle

Keane admits he's no 'regrets' around 2002 Saipan debacle

Former Ireland midfielder and captain Roy Keane admits that he has no regrets over his role in the infamous Saipan story that gripped the Irish nation in 2002.  

Ireland made it to the FIFA World Cup that year and were led by Keane. However, Ireland's captain left the Irish camp because of his bust-up with Mick McCarthy, the Ireland manager at the time.  

Keane's issues with the Irish set-up were the conditions of the camp and the travel arrangements. This forced Keane, a key player, to be sent home from the squad. The incident divided public opinion in Ireland about who was to blame, still to this day.  

While in camp, Keane gave a contentious and infamous interview to the Irish Times, where the former Ireland captain revealed he did not "respect" McCarthy as Ireland manager.  

The Irish Times interview on the matter found its way back to McCarthy. McCarthy then made his first error, calling the whole squad together for "clear the air" talks.  

This did not go down well with Keane, who is quoted as saying, "Mick, you're a liar … you're a ****** w****r. I didn't rate you as a player, I don't rate you as a manager, and I don't rate you as a person. You're a f****g w***r, and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b****s." 

Keane left the camp shortly after this.  


This week, Keane was asked about the incident in 2002 and revealed that, after conducting the infamous Irish Times interview which opened the floodgates for the incident, he had asked the interviewer at the time to leave out the line about his "lack of respect" for McCarthy - a request which was not granted.  

"I told the reporter that [the comment] was private... but word got back to Mick," said Keane on The Overlap.  

"Where I fell out with Mick - again, this was in front of a whole group of players - he said, "if you don't respect me, how can you play for me?" 

"I should have said, "well, I'm not playing for you, I'm playing for my country." It's very simple. But, at the time, I went, "alright, I won't."  

Despite this, Keane admits he wouldn't change anything about his conduct from 2002. Keane claims that his loyalty was for his country and not for any manager that held the role. A sentiment he still holds to this day.  

"I've no regrets about that. But all the stuff around it... if you're a senior player, if someone questions me in front of a group of people - and it happened to me at United - and questions me about my commitment to the cause, shall we say. As I said, it was bizarre that in that campaign, after we qualified from a tough group, "he added. 

"Whatever about me being captain, I was one of the senior players, and a manager felt he could pull me in front of the group and question my commitment, and then talk about respect.  

"This idea of a manager on an ego trip, "oh, you have to respect me to play for me." Of course, I don't! Another manager might come in next week! I'd been playing for Ireland since I was 14-15 years of age. Don't you go on an ego trip thinking I'm here to play for you, I'm here to play for my country!"