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'I Think It All Started With Roy Losing His Temper!' - Vieira, Keane And Neville On Highbury Tunnel Incident

Eoin Harrington
By Eoin Harrington
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Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira shared an infamous rivalry at the heart of the Man United and Arsenal midfields in the mid-2000s, and there is perhaps no more famous incident than that of the Highbury tunnel confrontation on February 1st 2005.

Before a highly-charged top of the table clash in North London, TV cameras picked up referee Graham Poll restraining Keane, who had come barrelling down the tunnel shouting at the Arsenal skipper Vieira.

See you out there!

Keane's threatening line to Vieira became iconic, especially after his side put together a huge performance to win 4-2 at the home of one of their fiercest rivals.

It's always been said that the incident came about because Keane was standing up for his teammate Gary Neville - and ITV's coverage of EURO 2020 threw up a fantastic discussion between the three.

Keane, Vieira, and Neville on the tunnel incident

Keane, Vieira, and Neville were all on punditry duty for Italy's game with Switzerland at last year's European Championships and, with all three in the same room for the first time since that game, it was inevitable that questions would be asked. They lifted the lid on what went on in the tunnel before that 2005 game.



Frenchman Vieira was the first to give his two cents, and he jokingly suggested that Keane was the one to kick things off - before admitting that he'd tried to get at Neville.

I think it all started with Roy losing his temper. Before that, the hostility between the two clubs. As an Arsenal player, you always wanted to play against the best and at that time, United were the best team.

It was challenging, it was tough, it was difficult and obviously Gary here, one of his strengths was intimidating players - that was one of his strengths. That time I was getting really, really frustrated about the number of challenges and the aggressiveness he was giving to our players, our front players. As a captain, as a leader, I wanted to put him under pressure a little bit.

Neville took his turn next, and said that the incident began before they'd even made it to the tunnel.

Before we got in the tunnel to go out for the game, coming in from the warmup, he was chasing me up the tunnel screaming at me!

So I go into the changing room and sat down next to Denis Irwin and said "Vieira's a bit annoyed - he's just basically chased me up the tunnel!" Obviously, I sat next to Denis here, and Roy was next to Denis, so Roy heard that.

When the time came at last for Keane to chime in, he tried to suggest that he tuned out the talk about Vieira in the changing room, but we find that a little bit hard to believe considering how famous their rivalry was.

I was trying to mind my own business. Honestly, I was just focused on the game, quite calm, getting in the zone and Gary was...a little bit upset and he seemed a bit worried.

I think I said to Gary, 'just forget about it, we need to focus on the game.'

And then, of course, Patrick wouldn't let it go - typical Arsenal bully. And then he started again in the tunnel, just before the game started. And that's where I got a little bit irritated.

It's fascinating to hear the insights of all three into the incident, which has gone down as one of the most iconic in Premier League history.


Keane's jab at Vieira, saying "of course he wouldn't let it go" is a favourite moment of ours, and proves that the rivalries between the two - and the two clubs - still runs just as deep as it did on that Highbury night in 2005.

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Marko Arnautovic


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