Jason McAteer reveals he would want to 'hurt' Roy Keane during matches

‘I wanted to smash him in games, HURT him’: Jason McAteer opens up on his rivalry with Roy Keane – but admits he’s ‘gutted’ his Ireland team-mate walked away from the 2002 World Cup

  • Jason McAteer has revealed he would want to ‘hurt ‘ Roy Keane during games
  • They had an intense rivalry despite them being Republic of Ireland team-mates
  • McAteer, formerly of Liverpool, said he would want to ‘smash’ Keane in games
  • He also admits he is ‘gutted’ for Keane after he left the 2002 World Cup in Japan 

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Jason McAteer has opened up on his intense rivalry with Roy Keane and claims he would go into games wanting to ‘smash’ his international team-mate.

The former Liverpool, Blackburn and Bolton player has revealed there was no love lost between the pair, who clashed numerous times on the pitch during top-flight games. 

Keane, a highly controversial figure who was a no-nonsense type midfielder during his playing career and is now just as brutal in the TV studio, was often at the centre of fierce rivalries, including with Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira.

Jason McAteer (R) has revealed he would want to ‘hurt’ Ireland team-mate Roy Keane in games

McAteer has opened up on the pair’s fierce rivalry, despite being international team-mates

But despite both representing Ireland at international level, McAteer has insisted there was no love lost and revealed he would go into matches against Keane with the intention of hurting him.

‘Sometimes you play against fellow (countrymen)… like Leeds I’d play against Ian Harte, I’d never think I’d want to smash him,’ McAteer told the One Last Match podcast from Audio Frontier.

‘He was on the left, I was on the right, it was always a battle.

‘But it was fair, we’d hug each other at the beginning and hug each other at the end. 

‘If there was any words said, which very rarely there wouldn’t be, we got on with it. 

‘With Roy, you’d want to smash him, you’d want to hurt him. You wouldn’t pick him up.

‘You’d have words, you’d mean it, you wouldn’t shake his hand at the end of the game. It’s how it was.’ 

McAteer says he would often go into matches against Keane with the intention of hurting him

The pair fell out after Keane walked away from the 2002 World Cup in disgrace after an infamous foul-mouthed tirade at Mick McCarthy.

The then-Manchester United midfielder was unhappy with the Republic of Ireland’s training facilities in Saipan and took his frustrations out on his manager after being confronted over an interview with the Irish Times. 

McAteer, who was part of the Ireland squad who were eventually knocked out by Spain in the last-16, admits he is still ‘gutted’ that Keane couldn’t impose himself on that tournament.

He added: ‘I’m quite sad about it. I’ll be completely honest. I am actually gutted for him that he missed that competition.

‘He was arguably the best midfielder in the world at the time and he was going to a tournament that was actually wide open.

‘I’m not saying we would have gone on to win it but we got knocked out on pens by Spain, we missed a pen in normal time and I just think having him on the pitch would have been that little bit more we needed to get through.

McAteer also says he is ‘gutted’ for Keane that he decided to leave the 2002 World Cup

The then-Manchester United midfielder took his frustrations out on his manager in Saipan

‘We plotted our way to the semi-finals at one point. We would have played South Korea, then Germany and we didn’t fear them. Having Roy there in the moment he was in would have enhanced the team and made us better.

‘Roy lives by his decisions. He a reason to go home, he made his point, he stood by it and his decision was “I am going home”.

‘He will stand by that now and he will be right. That’s the thing with Roy, he’s right.

‘I personally think he should have bit his lip, there’s a time and a place for a debrief, we get his argument and the situation, we understand where he’s coming from but let’s get on with it.

‘Can it for a month, can it for three weeks and do it when you get back. I really regret that he went home. He missed out on a World Cup in a moment when he was one of the best centre midfielders in the world and I am gutted for him.’

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