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What did Roy Keane say to Erling’s father Alf-Inge Haaland & did he end Man City midfielder's career?

9:32 PM GMT+8 13/05/2022
Roy Keane Alf Inge Haaland
The legendary ex-Manchester United captain famously clashed with the Norwegian during a derby date at Old Trafford as part of a long-running feud

Erling Haaland will not be the first member of his family to grace the books at Manchester City when a £51 million ($62m) transfer from Borussia Dortmund is pushed through, with his father, Alf-Inge Haaland, taking in 47 appearances for the club that included a now infamous derby clash with Roy Keane.

Back in April 2001, Haaland senior figured in a meeting with Manchester United at Old Trafford that saw a familiar foe sent off for a wild, knee-high challenge in the 86th minute.

Keane departed for an early bath that day after delivering a verbal parting shot at his stricken opponent to go with the physical abuse he had already handed out, but what did he say to Haaland and did he really end his fellow midfielder’s career? GOAL takes a look…

What did Roy Keane say to Alf-Inge Haaland?

A combative presence in the heart of United’s midfield had taken issue with Haaland several years earlier when suffering a serious injury of his own.

Back in 1997, Keane ruptured his ACL during a Premier League clash with Leeds at Elland Road, but not everybody in attendance that day believed that the Irishman was in as much pain as he was making out.

Having bided his time in pursuit of revenge on Haaland, Keane revealed in his 2002 autobiography exactly what was said during a notorious incident.

He wrote: “I’d waited long enough. I f*cking hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***. And don’t ever stand over me sneering about fake injuries.”

Keane was fined £5,000 at the time and given a three-match suspension, but comments in his book saw him stung for a further £150,000 while also being ruled out of another five matches.

A man now famed for his no-nonsense approach to punditry had little remorse, though, and would go on to say in another autobiography published in 2014: “[He] p*ssed me off, shooting his mouth off. He was an absolute pr*ck to play against. Niggling, sneaky.

“I did want to nail him and let him know what was happening. I wanted to hurt him and stand over him and go: ‘Take that, you c***.’

“I don’t regret that. But I had no wish to injure him. It was action; it was football. It was dog eats dog.

“I’ve kicked lots of players and I know the difference between hurting somebody and injuring somebody. I didn’t go to injure Haaland. When you play sport, you know how to injure somebody.

“There was no premeditation. I’d played against Haaland three or four times between the game against Leeds, in 1997, when I injured my cruciate and the game when I tackled him, in 2001, when he was playing for Manchester City.

“If I’d been this madman out for revenge, why would I have waited years for an opportunity to injure him?

“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*cking 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.”

Did Roy Keane end Alf-Inge Haaland’s career?

As pointed out by Keane, Haaland was fit enough to finish the derby in which he was upended by a shocking challenge.

He also turned out for his country four days later and took in 68 minutes of action for City in their next Premier League fixture.

Haaland did undergo surgery that summer, in what was to be the beginning of the end for him, but that operation was carried out on his left leg, while Keane clattered into his right.

The story of Keane ending the playing career of a derby rival has become part of football folklore, but there is seemingly little truth to that tale.

Even Haaland, who is now looking forward to watching his son follow in his footsteps when linking up with City ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, has admitted that the former United captain cannot shoulder sole responsibility for him having to cut short a career in England that also took in spells with Leeds and Nottingham Forest.

He told BBC Sport in 2014 of his clash with Keane: “I don’t blame him for kicking me in other games or that particular game. What I was concerned and worried about is that he said, in his first book, that he wanted to take revenge. And I don’t think that’s part and parcel of football.

“I don’t blame him. I never actually said he finished my career. It was my last full game in England, so maybe he had something to do with it.”