“Never say never,” Keane said in a newspaper interview. “There are people who placed bets on Roy Keane never playing for Ireland again. If I were the bookies, I wouldn’t pay out just yet. What would happen if Manchester United weren’t playing in European competition? You never know.”
Before Ireland’s 2-0 victory over Scotland in a friendly game in Glasgow, Keane had intimated to new manager Brian Kerr that he would make a comeback. According to Kerr, he even offered to travel to Glasgow to meet with his former teammates. However, the day before the game, Keane released a statement that he would be retiring after all due to medical advice.
The statement, and its timing, caused anger and frustration among soccer fans who had previously supported Keane. It was felt that if he could continue playing for Manchester United, it would be possible for him to represent Ireland. But in an interview with the Sunday Times, Keane said the surgeon who had operated on his hip last October had been surprised by the extent of the damage.
“We discussed the possibility of me having to retire from the game completely,” Keane said. “His exact words were: ‘I will be glad if you can get back playing full stop.’ ” It was also indicated to Keane that he might have to have a hip replacement later in life.
Meanwhile, another former Ireland captain, Liam Brady, said no international manager should have to go to a player cap-in-hand. “If Keane really wanted to play for his country again, he knew where to find Brian Kerr,” Brady wrote in his Sunday Tribune column. “I don’t blame Kerr for approaching Keane, but he took a risk dealing with someone whose judgment has been suspect and who in soccer terms has had a tendency to think only about himself.”