The Mayfield native progressed from Cobh Ramblers through Nottingham Forest to Man United, where he became one of the most formidable midfielders in the world.
All despite being told from a young age but he didn't have the size to become an elite player.
That brought an edge to his game that few could match. If you see a Premier League dream team during this Covid-19 sporting shutdown without Keane, it's a waste of time.
His performances at Old Trafford and beyond, including that epic Champions League semi-final display against Juventus, place him in the pantheon of Irish soccer icons. He snarled from box to box, breaking up the play but also keeping United on the front foot in the peak Alex Ferguson era when they were a joy to watch.
Since the breakdown of his relationship with Ferguson, via a detour to Celtic, the outspoken Leesider managed all the way to the Premier League and assisted Martin O'Neill in the Ireland post. His sardonic appearances as a pundit are TV-gold.
His reputation is fearsome but back in the early '90s he was just establishing himself under Brian Clough at Forest.
These exclusive pictures from Echo photographer Eddie O'Hare from a visit to Nottingham with reporter Noel Spillane show the softer side of Roy, when he was still just a boy.
Off the pitch at least.
Eddie O'Hare's shots reflect the game in England before Premier League money made every rookie loaded before they'd earned their spurs.
Keane grabbed his opportunity with Forest, impressing Ferguson and also Kenny Dalglish, who tried to recruit him at Blackburn.
Instead in 1993 he opted for United and a year later he was showing what Rovers missed out on when excelling for Ireland, alongside another Leeside legend Denis Irwin, at World Cup '94 in the USA. Eddie O'Hare was on hand to document that period as well.
Roy Keane in the Mexican clash at World Cup '94. Picture: Eddie O'HareLeeside legends Roy Keane and Denis Irwin catch up with a special Sunday edition of the Examiner during the World Cup of 1994. Picture: Eddie O'HareRoy Keane at Nottingham Forrest with his' Young Eagle of the Year 'award. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Leeside legends Roy Keane and Denis Irwin catch up with a special Sunday edition of the Examiner during the World Cup of 1994. Picture: Eddie O'HareRoy Keane at Nottingham Forrest with his' Young Eagle of the Year 'award. Picture: Eddie O'HareRoy Keane at his home during his time with Nottingham Forrest, in December 1992. Picture: Eddie O'Hare