Red mist for Keane… red card for Keane. I don’t doubt that Roy was genuinely a hard footballer, but in Shearer he appeared to meet his match, or at least a rival who was going to eyeball him and not back down.
Looking back, this was pure handbags from Keane, panto-level stuff. And big Al had the last laugh, as Newcastle beat Man Utd 4-3 (Shearer scored the winner).
It’s interesting though to see how the two parties recall the scuffle:
Keane: “I’d been sent off twice up there. I’d had my battles with Shearer and Rob Lee. I always thought they were an arrogant bunch, for a club that had won fuck all. We always got decent results at St James’ Park; it wasn’t a bad place to play. But as for the Toon Army, the Geordies, the hostile reception – I never fell for all that crap.”
Shearer: “[Keane] got the hump… and threw the ball at my head. I can’t remember what I said, but he tried to throw a punch at me and got a red card. Minutes later, I’m walking down the tunnel and there he is, waiting for me. Our teammates wouldn’t let us get together to settle things.”
Shearer’s former Newcastle team-mate Craig Bellamy weighed in later on, in his autobiography, claiming that his skipper didn’t fancy a dance with a raging Keane: “[The ball] hit him on the back of the head and Alan complained to the referee. The referee sent Keane off and Keane went absolutely nuts. He looked like he wanted to rip Alan’s head off. It took about five of the United players to restrain him.
“I adored Keane. He was one of the best players I ever played against. I idolised him in fact, but I wouldn’t have wanted to go up against him in those circumstances. I saw him waiting for Alan in the tunnel at the end of the game and Alan didn’t seem to be hurrying off the pitch! He was one of the last to come off actually, which we all made sure we remarked on when he finally made it back to the dressing room. Keane had to be dragged into the United dressing room by then.”
I suspect Bellamy is making mischief here, as Shearer genuinely doesn’t seem like a man who would be intimidated by anyone, Keane included.