Manchester United captain Roy Keane has returned to the Irish football team, ending a notorious two-year self-imposed exile.
Last night he helped the Irish team to a 1-0 win over Romania, making fans rue the bust-up between himself and former manager Mick McCarthy which led to him being sent home from Japan shortly before the start of the last World Cup.
At his comeback press conference on Wednesday Keane spoke of how he wished the Irish squad had gone to Korea and Japan in 2002 believing they could win the World Cup.
“If you don’t believe you can win it, what’s the point of going?” he asked bluntly.
There was doubt and some conspiracy theory after he failed to make a promised return in Pland in an earlier friendly.
But last night he ran out onto the pitch to fans’ shouts of “Keane-o!” and only a few jeers. The Corkman was at the back of the pack coming out from the tunnel.
He was loudly cheered as he quickly took control of the game and launched a number of penetrating runs.
“I thought he played well,” said new captain Brian Kerr. “He gave us a bit of presence, he changed the play and made himself available, and I think he showed why we wanted him back in the squad.”
“There is something about him. That’s why he plays for Manchester United when he is fit and why he has been such a good player for us in the past.”
With a late goal securing victory, he praised the fans for their clear welcome home for their prodigal son. The reception was “fabulous”, he said, bringing one of Ireland’s biggest news stories in recent years to a close.