As England’s hammering of Panama raised the hopes of a nation, one man refused to get carried away
Roy Keane, you have to admit, is an absolutely glorious bastard of a man.
Not for him the niceties of life, not for him the concept of ‘smalltalk’, of endlessly fretting over whether something you’ll say may possibly upset someone else of a delicate disposition. Not even, really, for him, the concept of ‘having a laugh’.
Football is a serious bloody business and Roy Keane has no time for your ‘witty banter’, or for fools of any description.
And the hardman player-turned-manager-turned-pundit-turned-national-team-assistant-manager-turned-pundit-while-still-being-an-assistant-manager produced another glorious no-nonsense moment in front of the camera in the wake of England’s 6-1 demolition of Panama on Sunday afternoon.
Others were getting carried away. Not Roy.
Talking about what England manager Gareth Southgate’s attitude should be in the final group game against Belgium - with qualification already achieved and talk of giving players a game who haven’t played yet - he said:
“D’you know what I’d do? If I was in Gareth’s shoes I wouldn’t try and be too clever. I’m kind of bored of the lads all night- England have already won the tournament according to these lads down there [points at Ian Wright and Gary Neville, they burst out laughing].
“I would just say ‘keep it simple, focus on the next game, try and win the next game, don’t worry about last 16, quarter-final - final [gestures again, they laugh, again]’ - according to these lads down there - try and win the next game of football.
“And don’t try and please everybody, you’re on about giving lads from the squad a game, try and win the next game of football.”
It’s worth watching the clip if only for the final few frames, when Roy’s absolute, unwavering seriousness comes through most, while Ian and Gary try not to laugh so much that Keano offers them outside for a further exchange of views.
Eoghan Allen spoke for us all when he tweeted this: