Ian Wright says Manchester United legend Roy Keane was the most ‘intense’ player he ever faced

Manchester United legend Roy Keane watches Burnley's Premier League clash with Manchester City
Roy Keane was Manchester United captain from 1997 to 2005 (Picture: Getty)

Ian Wright has revealed that Manchester United great Roy Keane was the most ‘intense’ player he ever did battle with on a football pitch.

The ex-England striker played with and against some of the finest footballers of his generation, emerging from non-league obscurity to cement a legendary status with Arsenal in the Premier League.

However, Wright won the title just once thanks in part to United’s domination in the late 1990s and Keane, who many regard as the greatest captain of the Premier League era, was instrumental in their success.

Wright was speaking with Stadium Astro
Former Arsenal forward Wright was speaking with Stadium Astro

The Republic of Ireland midfielder was feared by opponents and team-mates alike and Wright claims his uncompromising presence in the middle of the park is what ‘drove’ the Red Devils during this period.

‘The most intense I’ve played against would probably have to be Roy Keane,’ Wright told Stadium Astro.

‘Roy Keane was really intense. There was no let-up in his manner on the pitch when he was on there with Manchester United and this is why they won so much. This is why they were so revered. This is why they were so great.

‘Because he was a captain that didn’t let anybody rest on their laurels and he drove that team for many years.

‘He was majorly intense on the pitch.’

Ian Wright watches Arsenal FC v Derby County - Premier League 2
Wright says Keane is the most ‘intense’ player he ever faced (Picture: Getty)

Wright recently told the story of how Keane made an example of him for being two minutes late when they were working together for ITV’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup.

‘For me he was the best captain in the Premier League,’ Wright told BBC Sport in April.

‘What he ushered in with the Class of ’92, with the great players around him, the consistency of his performances without compromising exactly what he was about in respect of the way he sees the game and his principles an his morals. Honestly, I’ve got so much admiration for Roy Keane.

‘I have to say, we were at the World Cup together and I was thinking, “Oh my gosh, we’re really cool mates, it’s fine” and I remember there was this one time I asked Roy if he wanted to go to lunch, because we had breakfast then we’d go for lunch.

Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Ian Wright during ITV's coverage of the 2018 World Cup
Keane and Wright were colleagues at the 2018 World Cup (Picture: ITV)

‘He said, “Okay, Wrighty. See you at 1:15.” I said, “No problem, I’ve just got to go and do some stuff”. So I had to go and do that, I got there at 1:17, I was waiting in the lobby, I phoned and said, “Roy, okay, I’m here”. ‘And he said, “Wrighty, 1.15 is 1:15, I’m not coming”.

‘I laughed because I thought he was only messing about but he said, “Wrighty, I’m not coming”. He hung up the phone and I never saw him until the evening.

‘And as soon as I saw him he done one of those cheeky smiles he’s got and he said, “This is why Man United was so successful, we done what had to be done on time, we done what we needed to do”.

‘And that’s what made me think with Roy Keane is that to be under him, under his stewardship as a captain, he would take nothing in respect of failure.

‘What I like about Roy Keane and anybody that knows him or spends any time with him, obviously he doesn’t suffer any fools, but I’ve never seen anybody who loves football and speaks about football as much as he does.

‘He’ll tell you about a player in League Two, a left-back somewhere, he loves it.

‘The fact is, when he’s off camera he’s just a very serious man, he’s a serious bloke, he doesn’t deal with foolishness. I cannot stop laughing when I’m in his presence, the way he shuts people down and shuts things off, it just makes me laugh all the time, I just love being around him.’

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