Ian Harte selects Roy Keane as the best player he has played with

Roy Keane Signing Autographs as Man Utd player

Former Leeds United defender Ian Harte has told HITC Sport that ex-Manchester United captain Roy Keane was the best player he played with in his career.

Harte hung up his boots last month after an illustrious 20-year playing career where he played for seven different clubs and won 63 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

The 38-year-old began his career at Leeds, spending nine years at Elland Road, and was an integral part of the swash-buckling David O'Leary side that reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2001 and regularly challenged at the top end of the Premier League before the club fell on hard times and were relegated in 2004.

Harte also enjoyed three years in Spain with Levante before returning to England where he had spells with Sunderland, Blackpool, Carlisle United, Reading and finally Bournemouth.

The former goalscoring left-back helped his last two clubs, Reading and Bournemouth, to win promotion to the Premier League and Harte felt it was right to go out on a high when deciding to call time on his playing days.

Harte has enjoyed many highlights in his club and international career and despite it being a close call, he had no hesitation when asked to name the best player he has ever played with.

"I have played with some fantastic footballers, including the likes of Harry Kewell, Rio Ferdinand and Robbie Fowler during my time at Leeds, but if I had to pick one it would have to be Roy Keane," Harte told HITC Sport.

"He was something special and I saw that because I played and trained with him for the Republic of Ireland.

"Roy was technically not the best player I have played with, but his will and desire to win was what made him stand out.

"He was a brilliant midfielder and a great captain who led by example.

"I remember the game when Ireland beat Holland in 2001 and he was immense in the game.

"He crashed into Marc Overmars right at the start of the game and he set the tone for everyone else and I remember saying to myself 'right then let's follow Roy's lead', and that is what we did as we pulled off a victory not many people expected us to achieve.

"Roy was inspirational on the field when he played for Ireland and you could see how good he was with all the success he had at Manchester United.

"He is without doubt one of the best ever players ever to come from Ireland and for me one of the best midfielders of his generation.

"I loved playing alongside him and off the pitch as well he is a great guy and not like he is seen on the pitch."

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