Barca World Cup winner heaps praise on Keane

WORLD Cup and Champions League winner Gerard Pique has been managed by Sir Alex Ferguson and played alongside the likes of Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi.

But it is current Ipswich Town boss Roy Keane who he describes as the most influential player he has ever shared a dressing room with.

The Spanish centre back has revealed how the origins of Keane’s move into management could be seen from the midfielder taking half-time team talks during his Old Trafford playing days.

And Pique was even given a first hand glimpse of the Irishman’s fiery temper as - not for the last time - Keane grew impatient with a mobile phone.

Pique spent four years at Manchester United as an impressionable youngster before moving to the Spanish giants where he has since won eight

trophies as well as an ever present in Spain’s World Cup triumph last year.

But it is his memories of former team mate Keane that has had the biggest impact on the World Cup winner.

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Pique, 23, said: “I am still profoundly affected by him. He is the player that has the most influence in a dressing room that I have ever seen.

”I have been in many dressing rooms and with very important players, but I remember reaching half time in games and it was only him that spoke, the one that made the speech. Sir Alex Ferguson was to one side and he spoke.”

Pique also came into contact with Keane’s temper after the midfielder tore into him over his phone - in an incident mirroring last season’s infamous encounter between the Town boss and a journalist who allowed his mobile to continue ringing during a press conference.

The defender revealed: “I used to keep it in the pocket of my tracksuit that we wore when we met up with United and I hung it on the peg and it began to vibrate. There was no sound, it just vibrated and he did not like mobile phones in the dressing room.

“You had to be completely focused on the game an hour beforehand and then it began to vibrate and he noticed it and there was a bit of a kerfuffle. He discovered it and he told me off.”

With the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic ahead of him in defence, Pique’s chances at Manchester United were limited, making just 14 starts in four years before moving back to his homeland.

But after tasting sweeping success since leaving England, Pique still speaks fondly of his time in Manchester as well as the respect he had for players like Keane.

He added: “In England the older players are highly respected. The veterans are still highly respected. In Spain as well, but the relationship between the older and younger players is more fluid that it is in England. In England it is more complicated and you have to respect the older players a lot.”

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