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Roy Keane Had A Surprising Attitude When It Came To Drinking Guinness On Christmas Day

Roy Keane Had A Surprising Attitude When It Came To Drinking Guinness On Christmas Day
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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The festive period is a very busy one for footballers in the UK. Whereas many countries have a winter break over Christmas, British football kicks into overdrive.

Of course, this leaves players in an awkward position when it comes to enjoying themselves. They want to join in with the festivities with the rest of their family, although they can't really do so due to their commitments on the pitch.

In fact, many of those who are playing on December 26th will be forced to spend much of Christmas day away from their families as they prepare for the game. You'd imagine that would be a fairly grim evening, although Roy Keane did his best to help the players enjoy it.

Roy O'Donovan recalls Roy Keane's attitude to Christmas drinks 

It's fair to say that Roy Keane was very strict as a manager, especially when it came to things such as nutrition. He required his squad to maintain a very low body fat percentage and would have it checked regularly. Nutrition was also key, meaning alcohol consumption was kept to a minimum near games.


You would have perhaps imagined that little would change over the festive period, although it seems as though he was a bit relaxed.

Writing for Keep Up, former Sunderland striker Roy O'Donovan once said that while Keane did make his players stay in a hotel on Christmas day ahead of a home fixture, he did get a couple of rounds in for the lads despite the fact that they had a game the next day against Manchester United.

It might have been December 25th, but it was only in the evening when Roy Keane lent over the bar and offered me a pint of Guinness that I began to feel even a little bit Christmassy. The festive time of year is very different for footballers across the globe...

My first year in England, having signed for Sunderland in 2007, Roy Keane called us to stay in a hotel on Christmas night, even though we were at home the next day, taking on Manchester United in the sort of Boxing Day fixture the fans love.

I think Roy was trying to strike a balance between giving us Christmas morning and afternoon at home with family – especially important for team-mates with kids – and making sure we still stayed focused, despite all the festivities around us.

This might surprise you given Roy’s reputation for straight talking and demanding standards but he got a couple of rounds in at the hotel bar that night; Guinness, naturally enough, for Irishmen like him and me. Throughout my career I found that coaches who treated us as adults were rare, but usually were rewarded with grown-up behaviour.

I know there is often a debate about the wisdom of the workload for players over this period, and how much of a role it has played in England’s struggles at major tournaments with players who are often exhausted. In Germany, Spain and Italy, by contrast, they have a winter break.

But speaking personally, I loved it – if I was actually playing.

Considering his approach to management, it is a bit surprising to hear that Roy Keane would let the players have a drink the day before a big game.


Sunderland would go on to lose the game 4-0 the following day, although they probably can't blame the Guinness for that one.

SEE ALSO: The Best Current Footballer From Each Of The 32 Counties


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