Vieira speaks fondly of Keane battles

Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has insisted that he has always had the utmost respect for Manchester United old boy Roy Keane, despite the pair regularly being at loggerheads throughout their careers.

Vieira, now Football Development Executive at Manchester City, was a member of the Gunners’ 2003/04 title-winning side dubbed ‘The Invincibles’ due to their unbeaten season in the Premier League.

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During his Gunners heyday, Vieira experienced an intense rivalry with then Manchester United skipper Roy Keane.

But, despite the antagonism between the pair, Vieira expressed huge respect for the Irishman.

“For me it was about the match. Back then I was feeling so strong about myself, feeling like I could play every two days,” Vieira said in the Daily Mail.

“I was at the top and felt like nothing could touch me. I am sure Roy was the same. I had big respect for Roy, despite the rivalry. We shared similar qualities.”

The World Cup winner believes conflict between the two stemmed from a shared sense of pride in their work.

“When you play in the position we played you always want to prove something, you always want to fight against the best and he was one of the best.

“The intimidation, his quality as a footballer - it was all there.”

And when questioned about the iconic confrontation between himself and Keane in the Highbury tunnel before his side’s showdown with United in 2005, Vieira revelled in reminiscing about a moment he cherishes.

“Of course, I still remember it. And I still watch some of the videos of it on YouTube at home. It makes me smile because it was a special moment," he said.

“It makes me laugh, it makes me happy and I'm proud to watch it all the time. They were fantastic moments.”

By Killian Woods