If there’s one person in this world who can dish out cold hard dose of reality, it’s Roy Keane.
The Irishman famously suffers no fools, with his most famous/infamous moment coming when he walked out of the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup campaign in 2002 after a dispute with manager Mick McCarthy ending in Keane telling him, “You’re a liar … you’re a f*cking w*nker. I didn’t rate you as a player, I don’t rate you as a manager, and I don’t rate you as a person. You’re a f*cking wanker and you can stick your World Cup up your arse. The only reason I have any dealings with you is that somehow you are the manager of my country! You can stick it up your b*llocks.”
So, yes, don’t get on the wrong side of Keano.
So perhaps he was exactly the right person for a young Peter Crouch to bump into early on in his career, just after signing for Liverpool in 2005 for £7m.
He tells the story in his absolutely hilarious new book How To Be a Footballer, which is out now.
I’m 24 years old, I’ve just been signed by the reigning European champions, and it’s gone to my head. Specifically, I’ve bought myself an Aston Martin, and I’m driving round Hale Barns in Manchester with the windows down, sunglasses on, elbow resting on the sill, steering with two fingers, speed garage blasting out of the stereo.
I don’t even like speed garage. I’m certainly not sure I like this car. A little voice deep down keeps telling me that an Aston Martin really isn’t me, but a louder voice is telling me that as an England international playing up front for Liverpool the old rules no longer apply. Big voice: Peter, you’ve never looked cooler. Little voice: Peter, you’re a monstrous bell-end. And so I’m cruising around, trying to convince myself I look like Steve McQueen or Daniel Craig, ignoring the old Peter telling me I’ve become everything I swore I wouldn’t, and I pull up at a set of traffic lights and there’s Roy Keane in his car right next to me.
Ah, there’s a man who understands my vibe. Fantastic footballer, winner of multiple league titles and FA Cups and League Cups and the Champions League, captain and heartbeat of Manchester United through the most successful period in their history. I give him a nod. I give him a wink. I may even point my index finger at him and make a clicking sound at the same time. All of it saying, you and me, eh, Roy? Same game, same level. In it together. Rivals yet friends who just haven’t met before. Alright, Roy?
He looks back at me. Even through my shades I cannot miss the disgust on his face. It’s like he’s looking at something which has just curled out of the backside of his dog Triggs. He shakes his head and stares back at the road ahead. I’m frozen in my pose, grin slipping off my face, and when the lights change and he drives off without a backward glance I’m left there with the handbrake on and an awful realisation: oh my God, I’ve become one of those twats.
I sold the Aston Martin the next day. A £25,000 hit on it, and I considered myself lucky. All because of Roy Keane – Roy, as my absent conscience, Roy as a modern-day footballer’s spiritual guide.
That moment at that set of traffic lights was the best thing that ever happened to me… Even in the brief period of ownership I didn’t want to drive it to Liverpool’s training ground, because it felt obscene gunning it through the struggling areas around Melwood, waving under the noses of all those Liverpool fans how much money I was making compared to them. Taking it to the shops I felt like a fool, because who goes to pick up some milk and a loaf of sliced bread in a sports car that can do 0–60mph quicker than you can swipe your loyalty card?
For more hilarity on his fellow footballers, fancy cars, Harry Redknapp’s tactics, Nachos and much more besides, check out How To Be a Footballer (published by Ebury Press) right now.