Manchester United legend Roy Keane is widely recognized as one of the greatest captains in the club’s history. His never-say-die attitude and no-nonsense style added aggression and belief to the Red Devils in the 90s and early 2000s.
The Irishman was an uncompromising, ruthless individual who didn’t care twice about breaking his opposition players in half.
While Keane was an inspirational leader and an extremely hard-working, talented midfielder – he had a really rough side to him that was on display when the midfielder got overcome with anger.
Keane gained a reputation for flooring players with shocking sliding tackles and picking a fight with rivals. His rivalry with former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira is well known, with the two coming to blows on many occasions during their time at the respective clubs.
But one rivalry that really took an ugly turn was Keane’s story with Alf-Inge Haaland. Now recognized as the dad of Erling Haaland, the Norwegian midfielder was a pretty good player back in the day. He was an energetic, uncompromising midfielder himself and played for Manchester City.
One incident that shocked the world took place in 2001. In the final minutes of a Manchester Derby at Old Trafford, Keane hit a brutal studs-up tackle on Haaland in an attempt to purposefully injure him. The Irishman hit a studs-up challenge on the City midfielder’s knee area.
This was actually a revenge for Haaland shouting at Keane in a Leeds United-Man United game in 1997 – when the United skipper picked up an ACL injury after contesting for the ball with him.
Did Haaland play after that tackle?
Unlike what most fans believe, Haaland was not substituted soon after the tackle. He even played a few games, for Norway and City. The Norwegian only had to undergo surgery later that summer, but on his left foot – not the right knee which Keane had targeted.
In 2003, Haaland decided to take a break from football and got his release from Manchester City. This was a way of rehabbing the surgery on his left leg and on all the injuries sustained across his career.
He made a return to the beautiful game in Norway in 2011, playing for Bryne FK’s third team. Alfie also played for another Norwegian club, Rosseland BK from 2011-2013 – making six appearances for them before retiring in 2013.
But he never complete 90 minutes in a single game after that, indicating that his left-foot injury was triggered because of the tackle from Keane and that virtually ended his playing career.
The words that set Roy Keane off
There is a lot of speculation over what triggered that shocking tackle from Keane to Haaland. It felt intentional and something that was brewing for a long time. The ex-United captain discussed the reason behind it in his Autobiography that released in 2002.
I’d waited long enough. I f***ing hit him hard. The ball was there (I think). Take that you c***.
And don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal [David] Wetherall there’s some for him as well.
I didn’t wait for Mr Elleray to show the red card. I turned and walked to the dressing room.
Alfie, however, denies ever being this brash while recalling his tackle on the Man U legend.
He tried to tackle me and I got the free-kick. He was lying on the ground and I just told him to ‘get up’ as you normally do with players – nothing more than that.
I wasn’t trying to intend anything against him, but obviously, he took that very hard.
Are Alfie Haaland and Roy Keane friends?
A lot of fans have been wondering if Keane and Haaland ever caught up to solve their differences since that infamous tackle. They’ve never really been noticed in public together at any major event of even during punditry – unlike what Keane did with Vieira a few years ago.
Alfie still appears to have a lot of animosity towards the ex-United midfielder, which is understandable. The two hardly interact with each other and rarely talk about the incident. Alfie is currently focused on helping his son, Erling, tap into his full potential and become a Ballon d’Or winner soon.
The Norwegian seems to have a lot of dislike towards Keane. In 2014, he compared him to controversial ex-Iraq president Saddam Hussain – tweeting ‘can’t take a man seriously when he’s got a beard like…’ with a picture of Hussain.
Last year, there were attempts made to reunite Keane and Alfie during the Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium –which City won 6-3.
Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst tweeted: “Roy Keane just in front of the centre circle and Alfie Haaland is about 25 yards away pitchside. A broadcaster has unsuccessfully attempted to reunite them today.”
It’s fair to say that no, the two are not friends at all and can’t stand each other – which is why they’ve avoided confrontation since that infamous incident.