Man Utd hero Roy Keane threatened to ‘smash’ Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas


Man Utd hero Roy Keane was fuming with Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas

Man Utd hero Roy Keane was fuming with Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas (Picture: Getty)

Manchester United legend Roy Keane told Gerard Pique he wanted to ‘smash’ former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas in a dressing-room rant.

Keane’s rivalry with ex-Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira is legendary but the Red Devils hero clashed with more than one former Gunner during his impressive career.

The Republic of Ireland hero came up against a teenage Fabregas in the 2005 FA Cup final and felt the Arsenal youngster was a little overzealous with his tackling, claiming at half-time that he had ‘killed him’.

Keane spoke to former United defender Pique in the dressing room – the Spaniard attended the final but was left out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s matchday squad – and threatened to ‘smash’ Fabregas in the second half.

The final ended goalless after extra-time and Arsenal won the penalty shootout 5-4 with Vieira scoring the winning spot-kick after Paul Scholes’ effort was saved by Jens Lehmann.

Fabregas, speaking to The Times, said: ‘I tackled Roy Keane really hard and I felt really good about it because he was always giving me a tough time.

‘A few years later, Gerard Pique [his friend from Barcelona’s La Masia academy] said to me that at half-time Keane said, “That Spanish friend of yours, I will smash him, he killed me.”‘

Keane found a new nemesis in the 2005 FA Cup final

Keane found a new nemesis in the 2005 FA Cup final (Picture: Getty)

While Keane is known for being a fiery character both on and off the pitch, he remains one of Manchester United’s greatest ever players, having made 480 appearances for the club and winning 12 major trophies during his 13-year spell at Old Trafford.

In 2020, Gary Neville named his former United teammate as ‘the most influential person’ he’s seen in football and revealed how daunting it was to replace Keane as club captain.

‘I’d had Roy Keane as the captain for 10 years. Roy left really quickly, unexpectedly part way through the season. It was a shock to everybody,’ Neville told Sky Sports.

‘You could never replicate Roy Keane. I came into the first team under Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce. These were special characters, people who had influence and power over a dressing room.

‘I knew I couldn’t take over Roy Keane and be Roy Keane. I’m simply not, neither in character, personality nor influence. I wanted to be true to myself. I went down the route of trying to be the same person I was before.

‘I think the reason Sir Alex chose me to be captain was simply it would have been me or Ryan Giggs. At the time Giggsy was in and out of the team because Sir Alex liked to rotate his forward players. With his defenders, I was playing every single week.

‘He probably picked me because of the fact I’d be playing every single week but what I would say is that it was me, Ryan and probably Scholesy to an extent that were captains really in the way we worked together to set an example and the tone in the dressing room.

‘Certainly different to the approach we had before with Roy. Roy was the most influential person I ever saw on a football pitch and off a football field. We couldn’t replicate that.’

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