Embattled Sunderland boss Roy Keane may be facing calls for his resignation from disgruntled Mackems, but support has come from the man many thought was his worst enemy.
Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has buried the hatchet in his long-running feud with his former on-field rival – by naming the former Manchester United captain as one of the best players he has ever played against.
Vieira and Keane enjoyed a long-running rivalry as their respective sides fought for supremacy in the Premier League – with emotions occasionally boiling over during some of the tensely fought matches at Old Trafford and Highbury.
When asked in a video (available to watch on FourFourTwo.com's interviews section) for Ford’s FeelFootball programme to name the best player he has had to face, Vieira admitted: “For me, being in England for nine years, I would have said Roy Keane is really tough, really strong, but he was fair.
“What I like about him is the fact that he wouldn't talk; he'd take the kick, he wouldn't say anything, then, on the next one, he'd give it to you and he would expect, of course, that you say nothing. He's not the kind of player who talks a lot. So he'll take the kick, he will give back, but I like him – he's quite fair.”
Speaking in conversation with former Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich player Stefan Effenberg, Vieira also revealed Keane was not the only United player that gained Vieira’s admiration. “One that may surprise you is (Paul) Scholes – because I never knew how to mark him.
“This guy is really clever – he can play one touch, two touches – so it's really difficult to get to him at the right time to try to get the ball. I would have said he's one of the tough players I had to face because by the time you get to him the ball is gone already. Steven Gerrard has also been a terrific player to play against.”
Keane’s tough approach also gained respect from Effenberg – but the German's ultimate player is a former France team-mate of Vieira. Effenberg told Feel Football: “The best player was Zinedine Zidane – he was so hard to tackle, so clever with the ball and so fast. He was one of the best.
“Of course (Luis) Figo was a great, great player, it was hard to face him, hard to play against him. Roy Keane was hard because he was hard and tough, but we always had good times and good games and good nice battles, and Paul Scholes is great, very intelligent, very clever and you could never really kick him!”
Ford's Feel Football programme engages fans in debate with Champions like Jose Mourinho, Anders Frisk, Patrick Vieira and Ruud Gullit online at FeelFootball.com and at live events around Europe.
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