When Roy Keane quit Sunderland I sent him a nice text message saying ‘thanks for all your help and best wishes in the future’. He replied… GO F*** YOURSELF
DWIGHT YORKE still has the shocking, X-rated and abusive text message Roy Keane sent him after walking out on his first job in management.
Yorke pinged his old Manchester United team-mate a heartfelt phone text, commiserating with him after Keane dramatically quit Sunderland.
But Keane’s blunt three-word reply still shocks his fellow United Treble winner to this day.
And Yorke reveals: “The rumours of his departure had been flying around for a while, but when it happened it was still a surprise.
“So I sent him a text saying how sorry I was how things had turned out, but thanking him for the chance at Sunderland and wishing him all the best for the future.
“Ten minutes later, I got my reply: ‘Go f*** yourself.’
I’ve still got that text on my phone. I keep it because to this day it shocks me – and yet at the same time, doesn’t.”
Former Manchester United skipper Keane had signed Yorke from his Aussie club in Sydney in 2006 after pleading with him to return to England.
But Keane walked out on Sunderland on December 4 last year with the club in a desperate fight to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
There were rumours of huge bust-ups in the club and Yorke recalls how Keane completely lost the plot during one explosive foul-mouthed dressing-room rant in which he:
SMASHED a tactics board with a kung-fu kick.
SLAPPED skipper Dean Whitehead round the head.
SCREAMED at all the shocked players: “I can’t trust any of you.”
Sunderland were losing 1-0 to then League One side Northampton in a Carling Cup tie in September last year.
And in his new autobigraphy, Born To Score, Yorke says: “The manager’s darkening mood was made only too clear on an ominous night for his regime. There were the first signs of tension between Keano and the Sunderland supporters. But that was nothing compared to the eruption we witnessed at half-time. We knew we were in for a tongue-lashing. We waited for the fireworks. Keano emerged from the washroom, quietly, calmly.
“He asked our kit manager if he can get the tactics board. ‘Sure, boss, it’s over here.”
“The board goes up. And Keano takes a running jump and smashes it over with a kung-fu kick. He screamed at Danny Collins: ‘Never come to me and ask for a contract again.’ And then the captain, Dean Whitehead, is next. ‘Captain? Captain? Some f***in’ captain you are,’ he rages, slapping Dean about the head in the process, before turning on us all. ‘I can’t trust any of you!’
“No one knew Keano’s moods better than me and I sensed his regime was heading for a point of no return.”
Sunderland scraped through 4-3 on penalties after salavaging a 2-2 draw.
The following month Keane produced another explosive dressing-room rant as his side trooped off at half-time following a goalless first-half at Stoke. “That didn’t prevent a furious reaction from the manager,” explains Yorke. “Keano once again delivered a kung-fu kick on the tactics board which sent it crashing. He launched into a tirade at the team that began with his telling me that I was being substituted.
“I took the decision on the chin. We lost 1-0, which did nothing to improve his temper and I later learned he was unhappy with me because I had not reacted to his decision to substitute me.
“When I got the chance to speak to him, I told him my view. ‘We still had 45 minutes to play and I didn’t want to bring the dressing room down any more than it already was,’ I argued. ‘The players needed encouraging, not slaughtering.’
“I stick by that; ranting at the players made no sense when there was still half a game to go.
“Two days later, Keano said to me: ‘Listen, Yorkie. You’ve been great for me. But I’ve had enough of you. And as a manager I’ve got to make a decision. I no longer want you to train with us.’ I was banished to the reserves.
“Five minutes before that showdown, a first-team meeting had been arranged downstairs and, gloomily, I made my way there.
“Arriving at the same door from the opposite direction was Keano. He stopped me in the corridor. ‘No no, Yorkie, you’re not in this meeting,’ he said. ‘You’re outside with the reserves.’
“I have no doubt that, had I actually got to the meeting before him, he would have frogmarched me out in front of the whole squad.
“After that, the atmosphere around the club plummeted still further. For three, sometimes four days a week, we would see no sign of Keano and not too many players were disappointed when there was no sign of his car in the mornings.
“The dressing room started to get disconnected, splitting into little cliques and groups of self-interest.
“Paranoia rampaged through the club, players were at each other’s throats and fighting one another; it was disintegrating before our very eyes.
“For the next five weeks it was like this and the results inevitably crumbled still further. And then, suddenly, I got a call from our elusive manager, who had not spoken to me since I was banished from the meeting.
“‘Yorkie, I know things haven’t been great between us but I just want to know if you’re on board with me,’ said Keano.
“I was so stunned to receive the call, never mind the question, that I couldn’t think of an answer.
“Instead, I said I would pop in and discuss it with him the following day.
“Twenty minutes later I got a text from him: ‘Don’t bother – I think I’ve got my answer.’ It would have been easy for me to tell him I was on board. I guess that was what he wanted. I’m sorry I couldn’t do that.
“I’m not saying I would not have thrown my support behind Keano eventually; such is the immense respect I had for him as my leader then I probably would have. But we needed to talk first.
“By now I was convinced that club management was not for Keano.
“I don’t think the 24/7 care of a club manager is suited to his temperament. I don’t think he can deal with everything that lands in the tray of a club man. But his standing in the game is such that he could still take a group of players and get a positive reaction from them for a couple of games – and then march off and walk his dogs for a month or two.
“I think he is an impact manager, which is why I believe he could be ideal for the international stage.”
Keane is now under pressure as boss of Championship side Ipswich. The Tractor Boys are contemplating their worst start to the season for 45 years and bookies have slashed their odds of Keane leaving Portman Road before Christmas. But Yorke says: “Keano is very much his own man. His aura and personality are what make him such a big force in the game; they provoked a kind of fear in playing for him, a fear if you did not come up to scratch.”
Their relationship had been so different when Keane called Yorke to beg him to sign for him.
Keane had just been appointed the Black Cats manager when Yorke’s phone rang. “‘Hello, how ya’ doing, Yorkie?’ said the distinctive tones at the other end of the line.
“I want you to come and play for us,’ Keano said. ‘I’ll look after you. I won’t mess you around. No bulls***. I’m not going to bring you back and not play you.’ He persisted, stressing my help was needed to ‘sort out the dressing room’ and get some old United qualities in there.
“He kept calling, saying: ‘Yorkie, come on, I really need you here’ and dangling the bait of a £15,000-a-week, two-year contract.
“He even invited me to call him Roy but I declined. He was the gaffer – I had too much respect for him to take liberties. Keano and I had been great team-mates at United and had socialised – but we were never buddy-buddy.”However, it was Keano I came back to England for. It was only my old skipper who could drag me out of Sydney. Our success over the first two years, winning promotion and then keeping the team in the Premier League, were of great credit to him.
“The intensity which drove the team to those successes, however, never let up and, I think, ultimately, doomed Keano’s managership. Even when we had secured promotion at the end of my first season, he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted the title.
“He warned players he would not settle for anyone taking their foot off the pedal. It was leadership by inspiring fear.
“Keano had days when he would join in with the five-a-sides and any player on his team who misplaced a pass or miscontrolled the ball would be subjected to a stream of vicious lecturing or abuse.
“It reached the stage where nobody wanted to be on the same side as him.
“Gaffer,’ I said to Keano, ‘you’re scaring the s*** out of the players.’
“However, a general can only lead his troops this way for so long. The players began moaning about him. It was difficult for him to accept that he was not in a top-flight team that did not win the majority of its games – all that he had known at United. And when Keano left there was a sense of relief he had gone.”