THREE-TIME Premier League champion Ray Parlour says that Roy Keane was one of the toughest opponents he ever faced, and he would often need three ice packs for his leg after facing the Manchester United captain.
“Roy Keane was a competitor, it was as simple as that. He was a winner,” Parlour told NetBet Sports Betting.
“Roy was one of the all-time Manchester United legends, he was such a fantastic player.
“Whenever you saw him lining up against you, you always knew you were in for a game.
"After you came up against him and that United team, more often than not, you’d have three ice packs on your leg – one on your ankle, one on your knee and one somewhere else where you had been kicked!
“That was the beauty of that era.
“He was so important for United, he was the captain and he bossed the midfield around – he would keep Ryan Giggs and David Beckham in the game and get them back into place to defend, with Paul Scholes alongside him.
"He always wanted to win every single game he was in and come out on top. He knew that if you won the midfield battle, you won the game.”
Parlour wholeheartedly believes that one of Keane’s biggest attributes was his aura from just standing on the pitch in United’s colours.
“It was more his presence that was his great strength,” he said.
“Patrick Vieira had it too - you could see the battles they had. Sometimes it would overboil, maybe we saw that with the Ruud van Nistelrooy situation. But you go and try and win the game - if you lose it you shake hands after.
“Roy was one of those guys who was so focused, you could see that in the tunnel. And Roy loved a tackle - you saw that with the Alfie Haaland challenge against Manchester City, where he probably had a little red book with his name in it.
"He probably thought, I’ll do him one day! There are certain players who do that.”
Parlour also thinks that Denis Irwin is one of Manchester United’s greatest-ever players.
“Denis Irwin was a fantastic full-back, and probably Manchester United’s most consistent player at the time,” he said.
“He could also take a free-kick! He was such a professional. The career he had at Manchester United was incredible, and if you ask their fans he’ll probably be close to getting in their all-time team, which is no easy task.
“Sir Alex Ferguson loved him. I have so much respect for people like Denis who put it in every single week.
"If I was a manager I would want a Denis Irwin and Roy Keane in my side!”