A common way of complimenting a courageous footballer is by saying he's the sort of player you'd happily have alongside you "in the trenches". When the goings gets tough, he wouldn't chicken out. But what about when the going gets stupid?
Roy Keane would be a useless soldier. Because this boy from the Rebel County is not prepared to blindly follow orders if they're nonsensical.
And so, Ireland's captain, who also happens to be one of the best players on the planet, has been expelled from the World Cup for being a "disruptive influence". Is that what we should do with dissidents? Banish them to the gulags? Let them wallow wastefully in the wilderness with their hi-falutin' notions of progress?
Tremendous. Roll up, roll up, the country that brought the world endless internicine strife in Ulster now brings you a shambolic World Cup campaign!
Roy Keane is by his own definition a private man. Some would even say the boy Roy is coy. And yet, in recent seasons, he has rocked many a boat with his carefully considered comments. And they are carefully considered. Read them.( the Shrimp munchers at Old trafford) He is an articulate man, indeed, he speaks like he plays, with a kind of grinding minimalism - deliberately, forcefully, but with not a single wasted syllable.
Why has this timid lad become so outspoken? Is it because he's pampered in Manchester? Has he degenerated into just another spoilt celebrity brat?
Certainly not. He is the captain of his club and country and he knows it is his responsibility to further his teams' cause. Gaining the captaincy at one of the biggest clubs in the world co-incided almost precisely with his becoming a father - another hefty responsibility, another job a man can cock up if he's not prepared to stand up for what he believes to be right for him and his.
And, of course, he is reported to have introduced some personal vitriol to the "clear-the-air" talks with McCarthy. We don't know what he said, but when you hear Steve Staunton, Niall Quinn, and even Alan Kelly, the Irish player with whom Keane is probably closest, saying it was GUBU, then there's a blatant problem. But was it irretrievable? Could Mick not have referred again to Roy's "personal problems" and sent him to his room to think about apologizing, rather than
dispatching him home immediately?
Ultimately, Roy cares passionately about Ireland. Knowing he and his team are about to confront some of the finest footballers in the world, he was distraught to find that the bureaucrats who get such splendid junkets on the back of his boys efforts couldn't even organize simple things like water, footballs, and a quality training pitch, all of which, we must agree, are fairly essential to football at any level, let alone a World Cup.
Perhaps, stressed by the heat, the pressure, and "personal problems", he expressed himself rudely. But did sending him home so quickly not make losers of all football fans especially Irish publicans in their native land and abroad. After all this is the man that if he came up against a more skilled player he would simply kick his way to success. (ask Zidane, Figo or even Beckam, they crap their pants whenever
Keane is in opposition). Ireland will probably not even make it into the second round now and will only have themselves to blame.
I think its a good thing the game is cancelled today as I feel like doing a whole lot of kicking myself. The Surge have been spared for another day