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On this day in 2005: Roy Keane retires from international football

Roy Keane
(Image credit: Cathal McNaughton)

Roy Keane announced his retirement from international football on this day in 2005 after the Republic of Ireland failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

Keane confirmed the news in a statement to bring to an end a rocky relationship with Irish football, having crossed words on more than one occasion with the governing body and those in charge of the side.

After being handed a debut by Jack Charlton in 1991 as a teenager, the then Nottingham Forest ace quickly established himself in the starting XI as they reached the 1994 World Cup.

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Now of Manchester United, Keane played in all four games for Ireland in the United States including their memorable 1-0 success over tournament favourites Italy before they bowed out in the last 16.

It represented a major success for the country but, now a key figure, he saw little reason to celebrate the achievement of merely making it out of the group.

Having clashed with Charlton over Ireland’s style of football, ex-team-mate Mick McCarthy took over and the shackles were now off with Keane going on to score eight times under his stewardship.

The high point was qualification for the 2002 World Cup, largely down to the nation’s talisman who produced a number of notable performances to help them beat Holland to a play-off spot where they saw off Iran to book their place at the finals in Japan and South Korea.

Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy during the training camp in Saipan

Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy during the training camp in Saipan (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Keane would not feature in a second major tournament, though, after a huge row with McCarthy over their training camp in Saipan before the competition, with the Manchester United midfielder launching a volley of criticism at the Ireland boss in front of the squad after being confronted over an interview he had given with the Irish Times over the facilities.

Having left the Irish travelling party before the World Cup had got under way, it could have signalled the end of his international career but a recall occurred months after the incident.

McCarthy’s replacement, Brian Kerr, brought Keane back into the fold but the player retired after they failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup, with the last of his 67 appearances being a home defeat to France in a qualifier. He would later become Ireland’s assistant manager between 2013 and 2018.