Roy Keane: The One of a Kind Fearless Leader of Manchester United's Golden Era

There is simply no one else quite like Roy Keane.

The former Nottingham Forest, Manchester United and Celtic midfielder may have hung up his boots in 2006, but he continues to be the topic of so many discussions today - and will continue to be for many years to come.

And the reasoning behind this is quite simple, really. He was fearless, he said what he wanted and when he wanted, but above all, he was one of the greatest leaders and captains.

Roy Keane

As can be seen time after time on television these days, Keane never holds back in his assessment of things and, more often than not, it causes controversy. But that's what made him the player he was. A no-nonsense leader that would only ever be content with success - trophies.

14 years on from his Manchester United testimonial, we are yet to - and likely will not - see a leader quite like Roy Keane again. Win, lose, or draw, Keane would take the responsibility as captain, setting the example for everyone else to follow. After making a name for himself at Nottingham Forest, interest in him grew, and Blackburn came calling.

Incorrect paperwork stopped a deal from going through, and Sir Alex Ferguson wasted no time in acting to bring him to Old Trafford. Joining in 1992 for a then-British record fee, he went on to establish him as the midfield general, before being named as club captain in 1997.

Roy Keane

Keane went on to retain his status as captain until his eventual departure in 2005. During his time with the club, the player won the Premier League seven times, the FA Cup four times, the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup.

By now, we've all heard Keane's explosive interviews regarding his own teammates, and the countless other controversial moments caused by him during his illustrious career. But former United midfielder Darren Fletcher's recent comments perfectly encapsulate why Keane has, and will continue to have, such a long lasting impact.

Fletcher told the Lockdown Tactics: "Roy Keane was the ultimate leader and captain, an unbelievable player and the preparation for training, he was the one who brought in this you come in 45 minutes before training, you mentally prepare for training, how you train, how you go about your day, how you face up to challenges, what it is to be a Manchester United player."

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

"He was hard on you, coming to a meeting on time wasn’t good enough, you had to be five, ten minutes early, being late was not even a question.

"Testing you all the time, but it was coming from the right place because he recognised that you were capable and you could handle it, and he just wanted you to know that this is what it means to be a Manchester United player and I’m thankful for that because it allows you to have a long career in the game."

The likes of Fletcher looked up to Keane, constantly looking to learn every little detail of the game from him. For Keane, the matches were the chance to show the hard work that had gone into preparing and being ready for the game. As Fletcher stated, it wasn't enough to be on time to meetings, instead the winners mentality would be to arrive early.

Keane making players show up well before training began is just one of a number of examples of measures he took to best prepare his team. And the fact that players were on board with such an initiative only further underlines the respect players had for him.

Perhaps what was one of the most impressive things about the midfielder was that often with players who were vocal off the field, they failed to deliver on the pitch. But Keane, who was always looking to show his teammates what it meant to play for Man Utd, would always lead by example. Strong in the tackle, never backing down and above all, willing to put his body on the line for his team - again and again.

Porto v Manchester United

Sure, his passion did get the better of him on occasion, but even in these cases, no one could ever criticise his willingness and commitment to the team.

While we may now live in a world dominated by transfer fees and lucrative wages, Keane's legacy and reputation as a true leader will forever remain, as there will not be many quite like him again.

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Source : 90min