Much has been made of Roy Keane's supposed 'failed' managerial career since his departure from Ipswich, not least by the man himself in his recent autobiography The Second Half.
Staunch Keane defenders, however, will always throw back to his spell at Sunderland, when Keane led the club from the bottom of the Championship to the Premier League in his managerial debut season - no small feat for a rookie.
Keane himself has questioned his own mentality when it comes to football management; does he demand too much of his players, for example, or does he demand too much of himself. His temper is famous, his angry persona transcendent. But those close to him speak of a softer side - a funnier side, which occasionally threatens to break free when the current Ireland assistant boss is doing punditry work.
Speaking to Gavan Casey and Gavin Cooney on The Balls.ie Football Show, former Sunderland and Ireland striker Stephen Elliott recounted his first international appearance alongside Keane, and how the Cork man's intimidating nature spurred him on to win a Man Of The Match award versus the Faroes.
But Elliott - who is quite the raconteur - also recalled a story from his own career at Sunderland, while Keane was at the helm. It involved Keane's incredible ability to leave a room in stitches of laughter even while wholly untethered in his rage; the kind that simply adds to his mystique as a borderline maniacal yet highly entertaining character behind closed doors.
You can listen below or check out the transcript that follows:
I think we lost - I don't know if it was Preston or somebody away. We lost the game. We got a good doing. I'll never forget, after the game he says, "Right, lads." It was the first time I'd seen him proper flip. He says: "We're in on the Sunday". And we were like, 'oh, oh, okay' - because obviously everyone was worried because you could see he was bullin', d'you know what I mean?
So he gets us in on the Sunday. You're obviously sitting there shitting yourselves thinking, 'who's he gonna come for here?' Right? So, do you remember the defender Nyron Nosworthy? I think he might have been at fault for a couple of the goals. So, [Roy] is going through what everybody had done wrong, and going absolutely mad - he's showing no signs of wit at this moment.
And all of a sudden he goes, "AND NYRON!"
- [Nyron's] nickname was Nugsy.
"D'you know what, right? I've been up here in Sunderland..."
- I think his family were still down in Manchester.
"I had a nice meal planned for me wife last night - hadn't seen her in a long time. And I thought we'd get a good result, like, and I'll go out. Missus has gone out, got her hair done, got her makeup done. She's wearing a nice revealing dress, like. And I'm sitting there across the table. AND ALL I CAN SEE LOOKING BACK AT ME IS NUGSY'S HEAD ON EITHER SIDE OF HER DRESS."
We didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I'm sitting there, shaking, thinking I can't laugh here. But all of a sudden everybody just started exploding out laughing. So, basically, he had a half-hour rant but was able to kind of break the ice. But we knew we couldn't lose like that again.
All of a sudden I think everyone just had a picture of Roy Keane's wife there with two Nugsies pointing out of her top. It was just a surreal moment.
Outstanding. We should point out that our guest Stephen Elliott will be looking for a new club in January, and whoever he signs for won't be found wanting in the craic department.
He also provided some fascinating insight into Keane's professionalism - even relative to that of his old pal Mick McCarthy - while manager of Sunderland, and told us the only occasion Keane ever mentioned McCarthy's name at the club.
He also detailed how, in 2002, Brian Kerr guided an Ireland u19 side to a 3-2 victory over England, after Elliott's Ireland had trailed 2-0 at half-time, with a half-time speech that left players in tears. The whole chat is sincerely worth a listen, and available below.