Roy Keane

Manchester United vs. Juventus – April 21, 1999

Manchester United’s 1998/1999 season was one for the ages. The team was involved in numerous great games from beginning to end. One that sticks out and is a defining moment in Roy Keane’s career was the second leg of the Champions League semi-final in Turin versus Juventus. United advanced to the semi-finals after finishing second in the group stages only to Bayern Munich and then defeating Internazionale three to one on aggregate in the quarterfinals. Zindedine Zidane, Antonio Conte, Filippo Inzaghi, and Edgar Davids headlined the Juventus team. Italian Marcelo Lippi coached Juventus to create a worthy opponent for Manchester United. The first leg was at Old Trafford and ended in a one to one tie. Juventus’s captain Conte scored first for the Italians only for Ryan Giggs to equalize in stoppage time. The goal by Conte gave Juventus a slim lead on the away goals rule, which forced United to have to either win the second leg or draw by a score of two to two or greater.


On the night of April 21, 1999 the game started disastrously for Keane and United as they went behind after eleven minutes courtesy of two Filippo Inzaghi strikes. John Sinnott’s BBC article describes both of Inzaghi’s goals, “Zidane’s cross eluded everyone except Filippo Inzaghi, who bundled the ball home at the far post. The Italian international striker then snatched a second, his left-foot shot taking a deflection off Jaap Stam and spiraling over Peter Schmeichel.”[1] To say the least United were in a deep hole being down by two goals and needing a tie or win to advance, not to mention United were playing at Juventus’s Stadio delle Alpi and the Italians were known for being a very good defensive team. What happened next is something that can only be dreamed of, the video below shows precisely how the following events happened. Manchester United’s website describes the events in words, “Roy Keane was pulling all the strings in midfield, hassling Zidane and Edgar Davids into submission, and after twenty-four minutes he glanced home the all-important goal which halved the arrears and set the home nerves jangling.”[2] After that first goal it was all United. Keane continued to put in an iconic match, winning it for United with his hard work, tough tackling, tireless running in midfield, and even contributing with a goal. United then tied the game in the thirty-fourth minute as Dwight Yorke scored off an Andy Cole assist. Manchester United was then into the finals, winning on the away goals rule, but United continued to push for the winner and got it in the eighty-fourth minute. Yorke broke through the Juventus defense only to be pulled down by the goalkeeper, but Andy Cole was there to put in the rebound. It was the performance of a lifetime and would have been remembered as the best come back in Champions League history had United not come from behind again to win the final nearly a month later. Keane had led his team to the Champions League final with an epic performance; the only problem was that Keane would not be joining the team on the field in Barcelona. Keane had picked up his second yellow card in two games in the thirtieth minute after tripping up Zidane. Keane had continued to fight tooth and nail for his team even though he knew he would not be able to take part in the final. As the Juventus fans applauded Keane and United off the field it was bitter sweet for Keane for winning the game in such a fashion but for also picking up the ill-fated yellow card. Keane commented on the experience in his book saying, “When Andy Cole scored our third I knew there would be a final to miss. I didn’t care at that point (although I would later). I was proud of our team that night. I was for once proud of myself, content that I had justified my existence and honoured my debts to the manager who’d placed so much trust in me. The Champions League final was where I believed Manchester United should be. I genuinely felt that that was so much more important than whether or not I would be there. When the euphoric feeling evaporated (it lasted quite a while) I was gutted.”[4] Sir Alex Ferguson did heap praise on Keane though saying, “It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field. Pounding over every blade of grass, competing if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player.”[3] It seems typical Roy Keane fashion to lead his team to the final and miss out on it only to watch from the stands because he had collected too many yellow cards.

Roy Keane vs Juventus 1999 UCL

Return to European Icons of the 1980s and 1990s

[1] Sinnott, John. “BBC SPORT | Football | Champions League | Man Utd’s Italian conquests.” BBC NEWS | News Front Page. British Broadcasting Company, 25 Feb. 2003. Web. 09 Dec. 2009. <>.

[2] Bartram, Steve. “Juve Classics: 1999.” MANUTD.COM-The Official Website. Manchester United Football CLub, 8 Apr. 2008. Web. 9 Dec. 2009. <{B4CEE8FA-9A47-47BC-B069-3F7A2F35DB70}&newsid=6615307&page=1>.

[3] Sir Alex Ferguson-Manchester United Manager

[4]Keane, Roy. Keane The Autobiography. New York: Penguin Global, 2004. Print. 187-8

Picture from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *