Roy Keane has re-ignited his Saipan war with former Irish boss Mick McCarthy – 10 years after the row that split the nation.
Keane claimed at a sensational Dublin press conference on Thursday that McCarthy’s ‘feigning injury’ claim was the only reason he didn’t play at the 2002 World Cup.
He also claimed – denied by McCarthy and those in the room at the infamous meeting – that he told the Irish boss where to go before he left the team camp on the eve of the World Cup finals.
“Mick sent me nowhere. I told him where to go. What? Do you think Mick McCarthy said to me, ‘I’m sending you home’?” insisted Keane.
“What was said about sending me home, it’s not true. Was this the press conference that was done within half an hour of the private meeting? Piss-up in brewery springs to mind, but there you go.”
Keane added: “I’ve no regrets. I still think people miss the point of what was going on over there.
“I still think we went with the wrong attitude, things were badly organised and there were accusations against me.
“Obviously, I’d done an article and Mick pulled it out and said I was having a go and all of that nonsense and I should have played in the second game against Iran. THAT was the reason I didn’t play at the World Cup. Simple as that.
“Forget about facilities because all that had been sorted out and I knew we were going on to better ones.”
The former Manchester United captain did try to offer McCarthy some sympathy.
Now a TV and newspaper pundit, Keane said: “In defence of Mick, what was going on was a JOKE.
If you look at any organisation going away for a major tournament, whether that be rugby or anything else, they’d have a load of people supporting the manager.
“I know about New Zealand Rugby and they have so many people in place to get everything organised. When I became a manager myself I appreciated what a hard job it is.
“For Mick to have had to organise even the training grounds, I’m sure that was part of the build-up of pressure for us all. When you’re a manager, it’s hard enough without having to make sure there’s footballs and training kit there.”
Speaking at a fundraiser for the Guide Dogs for the Blind organisation, Keane also revealed that his beloved Labrador Triggs died a month ago.
He also revealed a catalogue of problems with the FAI going back years.
Keane added: “Since I’ve been involved with Ireland at 14 or 15, coming up to Dublin for trials, there was plenty going on there.
“I don’t mind being told I was too small but, at under-16, going away with Ireland I was the only player not to get a game.
“We played against France at under-16 level in Bray. There were under-15 lads getting in ahead of me. I went to Spain for the under-17 European Championships and I was the only player not to get a game.
“I was with the under-17s in Malta and I was actually told to get the balls behind the goals by one or two staff.
“I got phone calls when I missed one or two matches when I was 20 or 21 and Nottingham Forest wouldn’t let me go and I was told I’d never play for Ireland again.”