Full transcript of Wright and Lineker’s heated Keane debate

Date published: Sunday 19th April 2020 11:17

Gary Lineker and Ian Wright had a heated debate over the talents of Roy Keane on the latest Match of the Day podcast.

Together with fellow pundit Alan Shearer, the trio discussed the top ten European imports in Premier League history.

Shearer and Wright both named Manchester United legend Keane as their number one ahead of Thierry Henry in second.

Lineker disagreed, suggesting that Keane as a captain was worthy of such standing but, as an influential footballer, was not. And we even did a top ten because we agree so much.

Lineker and Wright then engaged in some friendly discourse, the full transcript of which is below:

TOP TEN: Greatest Premier League player rivalries, featuring Shearer v Keane

Gary Lineker: “Right, you both agree on the top two. Thierry Henry, second?”

Ian Wright: “You know something? I think, when you look at…only someone like Roy Keane could beat Thierry. Thierry, from 2001 to 2006, jeez. Unplayable. Dominated. He was amazing. And with the assists as well. It’s like, he’s a player…when you watched him, he was the Michael Jordan, for me, of football at the time.”

GL: “This is actually why I, on this particular occasion, would disagree with both of you in terms of my number one. For me, number one, Roy Keane as a captain I could perfectly understand. But as a footballer and as an influence on our game, as an import, I dunno. Obviously he was a top player, but he wasn’t a gifted, joyous individual that you could enjoy, you know? He was a winner and a warrior, but for me, there are so many better players in this list.”

IW: “I totally, totally understand what you’re saying but I think that, when you’re looking at Thierry as a footballer he’s beautiful to watch, he’s magnificent, he was expressive, it was wonderful. But you talk about Roy Keane: as a tenacious midfielder, he had it. As a footballing midfielder, he had it. Stamina, he had it. Early days especially, he scored goals.”

Alan Shearer: “Attitude.”

IW: “Attitude. Everything. Thierry is better than most players in the whole world but the fact is, if we’re going to talk about what Roy Keane’s done in the Premier League, what Thierry’s done and the individual kind of impact that they both had, Roy Keane ushered through the [Class of] ’92, and kept world-class players, great players focused on what they were doing.”

GL: “I totally agree with you. Totally agree with all that, Ian. But what I’m saying is, as a footballer, as a leader, yes, categorically, he was a captain, he was a leader, he was a warrior. But, you know, 39 goals, 33 assists in 366 games – it’s pretty good. But he wasn’t a particularly creative footballer, he was an aggressive footballer, he was up and down, as you say he could pass it, he could keep it. But he wasn’t Paul Scholes.

IW: “That’s so disrespectful.

GL: “But he played in brilliant sides. Absolutely brilliant sides.”

IW: “Who? Who? Who are we talking about here?”

GL: “Keane!”

IW: “And he was leading those brilliant sides! He was the one leading them to brilliance.”

GL: “I agree, he was the leader and that’s why he was number one in our captains list. But this is a different category. For me, football is about bringing joy. And lots of these players brought joy. I’m not sure Roy Keane – I totally respect him, I think he was an unbelievable player and he would have been up there in my top two captains – but as footballers?

IW: “You know something…without a shadow of a doubt I don’t think you can question, looking at Thierry as a footballer and thinking it’s beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. But we are talking about the best foreign imports, and as much as Thierry as a footballer probably would be the best footballer, I think Roy Keane is the best foreign import that we’ve had.

GL: “Perfectly entitled to your opinion.

AS: “I agree with you, Wrighty!”


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