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Roy Keane, The Puke Picture And Coming From The Bottom - Great Interview With Jon Walters

Roy Keane, The Puke Picture And Coming From The Bottom - Great Interview With Jon Walters
By Gary Reilly Updated

When Euro 2016 finally rolls around, there's going to be quite a few fans that will forego the usual Ireland replica jersey. Not only will they forego the current jersey, they'll even choose to ignore the tried and trusted retro kit that we all have sitting around in the back of the wardrobe, waiting for the opportunity to dust it off for a major championships.

This year however, there's an even better alternative. The Jon Walters t-shirt that everyone wants to own and, quite frankly, the Jon Walters t-shirt that everyone should own. (Personally, I've been keeping mine in the packaging so that I can break it out fresh on June 13th but that's not an absolute necessity)

We may be exaggerating but the popularity of that t-shirt really is a testament to the effect that Jon Walters has had on the Irish setup in the past three or four years. Where once he was the get out of jail option for every teammate that wanted rid of the ball, well he's still that, but he's so much more as well. Quite simply, he's a large part of the reason that we're heading into this summer with smiles on our faces knowing that Euro 2016 is on the horizon.

Walters was the only possible winner of the Irish player of the year award last weekend and, although we've never been ones to try and dampen the hype when it comes to Irish players, Walters really does deserve every hyperbolic adjective that comes his way. Even more so after his interview with Simon Hart in today's Independent. The print edition of that particular title comes to a regrettable end tomorrow and we'd sheepishly suggest that, if they had thought about moving over here, a daily interview with Walters about all facets of life would see circulation pick up significantly.

We'll make do with this one however. First things first, what about that fight with Roy Keane. It's something that Keane touched upon in his autobiography and, although these stories are often blown up by the media, Walters accepts that 'there might have been a bit more than a heated argument'. The story goes that Walters wanted out of Ipswich, Keane was having none of it and it all came to a head when Walters felt the need to take a picture of his own sick after the now Ireland assistant boss suggested he was trying to duck out of a League Cup tie so he wouldn't be cup tied.

It's fair to say that all hell presumably broke loose and Walters soon got his move to Stoke. Since then, and thankfully for Ireland, the pair have patched up their differences and have been able to laugh about the incident so, with suggestions that Keane wants to get back to the number one spot, how does Walters rate Keane as a manager?

He’s a good manager, believe it or not. I liked the way he ran the dressing room. He could be over the top. But over the top to me? No.

No one could get away with anything. If you put a foot out of line or did anything wrong, he would let you know. He would let you know as a manager and I still don’t think there are many players that will do that with people. People get away with all sorts.

All well and good. We always like a good Roy Keane story but instead it's Walters' description of how he finally reached the top of the game that is most enlightening. As we've already seen with his gloriously youthful first Premier League sticker, Walters was at the top of the English football pyramid very early on in his career yet by 2007 he was training in a park with Chester City.

That step down the ladder came about after the birth of his daughter, Scarlett, in 2004. She was born with gastroschisis, a condition which causes the bowel to grow outside the body. Football fell well down the list of priorities and Walters asked to leave Hull to drop down two divisions to join Wrexham so that he could be close to his Merseyside home.

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I was living on a pull-down [hospital] bed with my wife. I asked to leave to take my daughter back to Wirral because she was pretty bad at the time.

A sideways move to Chester followed before the climb back up the ladder began with Ipswich and then Stoke. Now Walters is leading Ireland to Euro 2016 and we couldn't think of a better man to pin our hopes on.

You can read Simon Hart's full interview with Jon Walters here.

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See also: We Dug Up The Earliest Premier League Stickers For The Current Irish Squad And They Are Amazing

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