ROY KEANE ON MICK MCCARTHY: ‘I said sorry about what happened in Saipan, but I’m not sure I had anything to apologise for’

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Roy Keane has revealed he did eventually apologise to Mick McCarthy over the infamous ‘Saipan incident’, but adds ‘I’m not sure I had anything to apologise for’.

Roy Keane walks his dog outside his home in Hale Barnes, Cheshire after returning from the 2002 Worl

Roy Keane walks his dog outside his home in Hale Barnes, Cheshire after returning from the 2002 World Cup. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Photos

Keane walked out on the Republic of Ireland squad ahead of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea following a well-publicised and bitter spat with manager McCarthy. The former, a Manchester United player at the peak of his powers at the time, gave a newspaper interview slamming the FAI’s choice of Saipan as an initial training base for the tournament, voicing other issues over facilities and preparations. McCarthy confronted him about the article at a team meeting, an argument ensued and Keane flew home. Ireland went on to reach the last 16 of the tournament without him, eventually getting knocked out on penalties by Spain.

Both men have gone on to have associations with Ipswich Town. The enigmatic Keane endured a turbulent 20 months in charge at Portman Road between 2009 and 2011, while McCarthy is the current incumbent of the hot-seat, the straight-talking Yorkshireman’s quiet revolution at the Suffolk club continuing apace.

Keane admitted in a documentary last year that he did harbour some regrets about not playing at the 2002 World Cup, but McCarthy has avoided, wherever possible, the subject. Last year he would only say: “It was one of the big stories from the World Cup and I understand it but I don’t have to talk about it because my life has had more than that in it. That doesn’t define my life.”

Keane’s latest book, ‘The Second Half’, has gone on sale today and in it he talks about the first time he and McCarthy spoke following their fall-out.

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Looking back on his spell as Sunderland boss, he says: “Mick McCarthy was managing Wolves and he rang me about a player; I think it was Neill Collins. He rang me direct, straight through to my office. ‘All right, Roy?’

“We chatted about the player, and about this and that. It wasn’t an awkward conversation, and I was glad he’d rung me. It had crossed my mind that we’d be meeting during the course of the season.”

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He continues: “I think it was Mick who suggested that we meet up for a chat; we both thought it was a good idea.

“We met at the Four Seasons Hotel, near Manchester Airport, and it was a bit like meeting with Niall (Quinn), a nice anticlimax. I said I was sorry about what had happened in Saipan. I’m not sure I had anything to apologise for. But you try to move on.

“But that was that. It was important, and I’m glad it happened.”

– Roy Keane: ‘The Second Half’ is available to buy today for £9.95.

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