Roy Keane's Time at Glasgow Celtic and How It Went

Roy Keane was an instrumental part of Sir Alex Ferguson's success at Manchester United for more than a decade but things didn't end well between the two of them. Keane, now 34 years old in 2005, was very opinionated about his teammates and this led to a fallout with his manager, with the Irish international joining Scotland's giants, Celtic.

Roy Keane
Now, while much has been said about Keane's time at United and the many different situations he went through, very little is said about his tenure at Glasgow. Perhaps because it was at the tail-end of his career but there were some interesting tidbits here and there. And is also fascinating to see how one of the best Premier League midfielders of all time ended his career.

The context

It was fairly clear, back in the summer of 2005, that Roy Keane wasn't going to last a lot longer at United. He was 34 years old, his performances had declined considerably, he was beginning to struggle with injuries, and manager Sir Alex Ferguson was starting to rebuild the size. Therefore, it seemed that the Irish international was going to have a much lesser role moving forward.

However, no one was expecting the quick decline in his relationship with Ferguson. United had just lost 4-1 at Middlesbrough away on October 29 2005 and Roy Keane spared no words in an interview for MUTV, the club's channel, where he was extremely critical of his teammates. Now, this interview was shelved and never shown to the public, which is why Keane's statements are left for interpretation and speculation.

Be that as it may, it was no surprise to find out that Sir Alex Ferguson was livid and quickly moved Keane away from the squad. There had been talks of a move to Real Madrid the past summer but didn't come to fruition because the Irishman was "afraid of the unknown", according to his statements in his 2014 autobiography, "The Second Half".

So, Keane was let go with his contract terminated and joined Scottish giants Celtic in December 2005, kickstarting his final adventure in football.

His arrival to Celtic

There had been a lot of claims over the years that Keane was a lifelong Celtic supporter and that he was making this move to fulfill a childhood dream. While that would have been a great story to tell, that wasn't truly the case. In fact, Keane has been very vocal in his life in football that he was more of a Tottenham supporter as a kid.

However, he had been spotted at Celtic's stadium several times, even as a United player, and had grown fond of the atmosphere. This is something he pointed out in his 2014 autobiography:

"I wouldn't have called it a dream but I'd always liked Celtic. And the Irish connection would have been on the back of my mind. I felt a bit of loyalty to them. This decision was a purely selfish one. I just wanted to play for Glasgow Celtic. Celtic is a special club."

It seemed like a good fit: Keane had all the experience in the world and would be able to play regularly at a league with a slower pace. It was a good combination, although his debut against Clyde in the Scottish Cup could have gone better by his own admission:

"My first game [for Celtic] was Clyde, away, in the third round of the Scottish Cup. We were beaten 2-1. It was a nightmare. I wasn't happy with my own game. I did OK, but OK wasn't good enough. After the game - the disappointment. As I was taking my jersey off, I noticed the Nike tag was still on it. When I got on the bus John Hartson, a really good guy, was already sitting there and he was eating a packet of crisps - with a fizzy drink. I said to myself: 'Welcome to Hell.'"

Fans at the time had some divisive opinions regarding his move, mainly because of his age and his background as an overly aggressive midfielder, although he proved to be a very good example for his teammates. Keane would quickly become a very beloved player in his short time at Celtic.

Highlights of Keane's time at Celtic

While his debut against Clyde wasn't by any means positive, there were some interesting highlights of Keane's time at Celtic. Perhaps the most prominent was his Man of the Match performance against Rangers in his club's 1-0 win, that also being his only derby in Scotland. Keane would go on to admit he loved the atmosphere of that game:

"The atmosphere was brilliant, f****** electric. The hatred - I enjoyed all that. I got a yellow card for a foul on Pršo and they were baying for a red card. Physically, I must have felt good. I was Man of the Match, and that was a little moment of satisfaction, another tiny victory. The dressing room afterwards was great. Again, it's what football is all about."

Some other performances were solid, with Keane even scoring a goal, but the truth of the matter is that injuries had taken a massive toll on him. He had left United in December with a broken foot and was dealing with a lot of hip problems at Celtic, which is something that halted his time there. The fact he only managed to play ten matches there says as much.

Keane himself has had a somewhat negative view of his own performances at Celtic, although it would be unfair to describe it that poorly:

"I go straight into a game up there, I tear my hamstring twice. I never justified my role at the club - if anything I'm embarrassed by my time at Celtic. What I really enjoyed at Celtic was, it was nice just to be in a different dressing room."

"I had great craic with the United lads but the Celtic boys - Neil Lennon, Petrov, Varga - I really enjoyed the dressing room at Celtic. Celtic fans must be looking at me going, 'you were rubbish', but it was nice to get a taste of Celtic, brilliant fans."

"But obviously I'm a professional footballer and then the struggle came and I saw the specialist about my hip and I had a year left on my contract. I had to go into Celtic every day with my injuries and I was embarrassed. I was ashamed to be going in picking up wages."

Nathan Annan is from South Africa and loves to write, and above all about his favorite sport, football. Nathan's interest in football was sparked late but after watching a few matches in his hometown of Johannesburg during the 2010 South Africa World Cup, he was hooked.