ROY Keane may have opened up a new can of worms when revisiting some controversial by-gones in his newly-updated autobiography.
The legendary former Manchester United captain will be forever remembered for his hard-hitting and no-nonsense nature both on and off the pitch – and the Irishman, 43, did not hold back in his latest book The Second Half as he gave his own take on the issues which have distinguished his incident-packed career.
Among a series of surprising revelations, the current Aston Villa and Republic of Ireland assistant manager claimed that he did not regret the ferocious tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland during a Manchester derby in 2001, which subsequently ended the his career.
And the ex-Manchester City defender, 41, has sensationally hit back by suggesting Keane’s fully-grown beard is similar to that of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Keane had added fuel to the fire by writing in the book, which will be published on Thursday, that he set out to deliberately hurt the Norwegian ahead of the clash at Old Trafford 13 years ago as revenge for Haaland’s play-acting accusations towards him four years previously.
After details of the autobiography were leaked by national newspapers via social media on Monday, Haaland refuted Keane’s comments in an interview with Norwegian channel TV2 by stating he “did not take them seriously”.
In response to a message from former Leeds team-mate Egil Johan Ostenstad, he then tweeted a picture of the bearded ex-Iraqi president Hussein, who was executed in 2006 after being found guilty of crimes against humanity, and said: “can’t take a man seriously when he’s got a beard like this…”
Haaland has sinced removed that claim from his Twitter account.
Keane wrote in the second version of his autobiography: “Was I going around for years thinking: ’I’m going to get him, I’m going to get him.’? No. Was he at the back of my mind? Of course he was. Like Rob Lee was, like David Batty was, like Alan Shearer was, like Patrick Vieira was.
“All these players were in the back of my mind: ’If I get a chance I’m going to f******* hit you, of course I am.’
“Haaland finished the game and played four days later, for Norway. A couple of years later he tried to claim that he’d had to retire because of the tackle. He was going to sue me. It was a bad tackle but he was still able to play four days later.”
The bitter feud between the pair first transpired in 1997 when Haaland accused Keane of faking injury when he lay on the ground having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in a match between pennine rivals Manchester United and Leeds.
Keane retaliated four years later with a crude tackle on Haaland and was sent off by referee David Elleray, given a three-match ban and handed a £5,000 fine from the Football Association – before a further £150,000 fine followed when the pre-meditated element was revealed in his first book in 2002.
With both refusing to apologise and seemingly unwilling to forgive and forget, it remains to be seen just who will have the final word.