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'PRIMADONNA’ SWIPE Niall Quinn reveals how Roy Keane got 'superstar' treatment in Irish set-up


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Quinn with Keane when they were chairman and manager of Sunderland

Quinn with Keane when they were chairman and manager of Sunderland

Quinn with Keane when they were chairman and manager of Sunderland

Niall Quinn has reopened old wounds from the Saipan fallout - which split the country in 2002 - by taking a pointed pot shot at Roy Keane.

Ireland's second highest goalscorer of all time has still not forgotten the bitterness in the lead up to the World Cup 19 years ago - and suggests Keane thought he was a 'primadonna' while playing with Manchester United back then.

Captain Keane was dramatically sent home by then manager Mick McCarthy after bitterly complaining about the players' training conditions and equipment, and claiming that FAI bosses got first class seats on the trip while the players were in economy.

"We found it difficult that he would be so alarmingly aghast at what was going on out there, given that for all our international matches for the last couple of years, he was only coming in sometimes on the Tuesday and we were all in on the Saturday," recalls Quinn.

"So he had this specialist status, this privileged status in the team, for a couple of years. So it was difficult I think for him to say 'things aren't done right', when he wasn't there all the time.

"But he got special privilege. Mick McCarthy and Sir Alex Ferguson did a deal, 'oh you can have him later on near the matches, but he stays with us 'til Monday or Tuesday'."

Quinn (54) makes the revelations in a documentary to be broadcast on Virgin Media on Wednesday.

"From a very early stage in that sort of Mick/Roy relationship, Roy was privileged, put in a specialised position.

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Keane and Quinn playing for Ireland

Keane and Quinn playing for Ireland

Keane and Quinn playing for Ireland

"When he started giving out about stuff, I had to think 'how can he give out, the rest of us turn up all the time'.

"Some funny things came out of it. I remember doing a thing on TV with Ruby Walsh and him saying 'oh Roy Keane got youse on the first class seats'. No he didn't, it was done long before he came to the team, and I was involved in it.

"I remember saying 'come on guys, you have to give us the leg room for the long flights'. We had that conversation, but the myth has it that Roy got us it."

Keane, who has become an Instagram hit in recent days after setting up an account which has won over a million followers, labelled several of the management and players 'muppets' in the Saipan fallout, singling out Quinn as 'Mother Teresa'.

"You know what, Gillian [Niall's wife] laughed, she laughed her head off," Quinn says of the jeer. "I went 'you know what, that was a good one, I give him that, it was a good one'."

Quinn, who would later become chairman of Sunderland and sign Keane as manager in 2006, is mostly positive about the fiery Corkman in the programme with host Tommy Martin.

"His energy was the first thing that struck, up and down the pitch," he describes of his first impression of Keane.

"How he could be so involved in a game - every bit of it, and at a young age - that referees were afraid of their lives of him.

"And that takes some doing. He had a presence in other words, right from the get go. He became very demanding of those around him, at a very young age. It was just in him."

He recalls his first Manchester derby game against Keane in November 1993. "He was literally running every part of the United team, barking orders at everybody," he smiles.

  • Niall Quinn - Bootroom to Boardroom is on Virgin Media Two on Wednesday at 10.15pm.

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