20 years ago today Roy Keane made his Manchester United debut

The Irish midfield general Roy Keane made his Manchester United debut 20 years ago today in the FA Charity Shield against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on 07/08/1993.

Roy Keane signed for United after a hot pursuit for his signature by both Kenny Dalglish then manager of Blackburn Rovers and Sir Alex Ferguson. Arsenal were also monitoring the transfer jousting for the capture of the young Cork player attracting attention at Nottingham Forest.

Dalglish had previously convinced Alan Shearer to transfer to Ewood Park in the summer of 1992 from Southampton, outfoxing Ferguson in the process. The United manager was determined to get his man on this occasion. Keane signed for United on the 19th of July 1993. Much acrimony shrouded the transfer saga that dragged on for months, with Kenny Dalglish reportedly threatening to sue Roy Keane for alleged broken promises in not transferring to Blackburn Rovers. Dalglish infamously telling Keane "That nobody 'f**ked' with Kenny Dalglish and 'got away with it'.

Manchester United paid Nottingham Forest £3.75m for Roy Keane's signature having played 154 games scoring 33 goals from midfield at the Forest in three seasons, a British transfer record at the time.

Roy Keane signed for United loyal to his long-term ambition to win trophies - he moved to Old Trafford in the knowledge had he signed for Blackburn he would have earned an extra £1000 a week.

Keane said "A thousand pounds a week was a small price to pay to be a Manchester United player. I loved Old Trafford from the moment I set foot inside it."

One of the most highly regarded United playing careers was about to take flight. The day following Keane's arrival, he met his new team-mates at Manchester airport and flew to South Africa to begin a ten-day pre-season tour.

Training sessions were tough for the Cork youngster in such lofty company. Roy Keane explaining at the time, "I didn't make a very impressive start. During the first week I hardly got a kick in five-a-sides. All I did was run, working hard to close the gap between myself and the amazingly gifted players around me. But I loved the atmosphere, and before we kicked a ball in anger I could see why United were Champions."

With so many steely characters like Bryan Robson, Roy acknowledged, "We trained harder than I'd ever trained before. There was a sharp edge to what we did. A tough tackle would be the trigger for all-out war."

As the battle hardened professionals and fans alike were about to find out, that was the way Roy Keane liked it, built for a battle.

Famously: February 2005, Arsenal 2 United 4.

Roy's tunnel vision finally sees off Vieira. You wouldn't like Keano when he's angry, as his most fierce adversary discovered.

Despite leaping Keown’s, flying pizzas and bickering gaffers, nothing quite summed up the nineties/early noughties battle for domestic supremacy as the battle between Arsenal and Manchester United. Mirrored only by the monumental tussle between two of the finest Premier League midfielders of their generation. Keane and Vieira!

The two first came head-to-head in the 1998 Charity Shield, before nearly coming to a punch - up at North London in 1999 over Keano's reaction to a Vieira tackle, igniting a 22-man bout of pushing and handbags.

Things finally came to a crescendo in February 2005 - again at Highbury, this time in the tunnel - Sky gratefully were there to capture the whole instalment on camera.

It all kicked off when, on the way back to the changing rooms from the pre-match warm ups, Vieira implied to Gary Neville that he always tried to kick the Gunner's players.

The big Frenchman re-emphasised the thought as the two teams congregated in the tunnel prior to the game starting. Bad error.

This time, Roy Keane was in earshot of Patrick Vieira.

Vieira stands at 6ft 4in tall and he starts having a pop at Gary Neville, so I said, 'come and have a go at me," recalled Keano afterwards - even though the Irishman is shorter than the 5ft 11in tall, then England right back, Neville.

As shoving bickering, mayhem broke out between the two sides, Keane enquired of Vieira - amongst other things - why "if he loved Senegal so much, he chose to play for France?"

As Graham Poll the match referee tried to return harmony, Keane told him: "Tell him ( Vieira) to shut his f**king mouth", immediately, pointing beyond the skipper of Arsenal to the pitch and barking, "We'll see out there."

There was only one winner out there, Roy Keane commanding a mild Vieira as United performed, dominating Arsenal running out winners 4-2, on the way to the Premier League title.

Arsenal's FA Cup victory that season was the Gunners last piece of silverware achieved to date.

Both Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira left their clubs that season.

It's hard to think of a weakness in Roy Keane unless you count in his weapons, his dislike of prawns. In the 12 years he was at Old Trafford the feistyIrishman developed into the must have all round central midfielder and one of the most demanding captains ever to don the red shirt.

Naturally with mavericks, loners, artisans there is a downside. Roy could be vicious, he was no shrinking violet, accustomed to the referee's notebooks and featuring at disciplinary committees.

However his never say die uncompromising attitude to the game made Roy Keane a fans favourite. He was key to United's cause for so long, a range of abilities; a midfield scrapper who entered a 50:50 challenge with so much gusto energy that the ball was more like 70:30 in Roy's favour. Having won the ball Roy could find the key pass and make it effective, reminiscent of Bryan Robson a box-to-box midfielder at his towering best to swiftly counter - attack striking with important goals.

Critical of all, he was possessed of drive and a desire to win that ensured United were always on the front foot to pounce forward with a never give in mentality until the final whistle was blown. Keane caused other players to lift their game making sure every team member operated to full capacity all the time. It was unthinkable for Roy to allow shirkers or bottlers in the United team while Keane was on the pitch. A loyal lieutenant to Ferguson on the pitched battles ahead, while he was playing to his peak.

Ferguson did everything in his power to snatch Roy Keane from his many admirers grasp! It was the beginning of a truly rewarding relationship between Keane and the club.

Roy Keane made 480 appearances for United scoring 51 goals. Winning 7 Premier League titles, 4 FA Cups, 4 Community Shields, 1 Champions League, 1 Intercontinental Cup.

Roy, amongst other awards in his career, won PFA player's-player of the year and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 2000.

Was Roy Keane United's best ever captain in the Premiership era. Do Manchester United still lack the final piece of the puzzle; to fill the midfield vacuum left by Roy Keane?

image: © joncandy

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