Like a lot of us, Neil Brennan is obsessed with Roy Keane. So obsessed he's started a new podcast, just about Roy. He explains why.
It was as if Roy Keane wanted me to fuck up the 2002 Leaving Certificate.
Mere days after walking out on Ireland at the World Cup, already a bit of a spanner in my academic works, he brought the country to a standstill with that Tommie Gorman interview on RTE.
I should have been studying, because this was also the night before the first of the exams that would define the rest of my life. But forget that, this was so much more important than English Paper One.
Adrenalin pumping, I moved my copy of Othello aside, switched on my 14" telly (quiet, so my Mam wouldn't hear it) and watched Roy, and Tommie, and that stupid shagging plant that dominated the background.
Afterwards, there was a lot to think about: Had Mick and the team been watching the interview over in South Korea? Had Roy left the door open to a return? It seemed he had, right? Or had he? Who was right, who was wrong? And most importantly, what about all the little kids in Ireland?
There was no chance I was going back to Iago and all that shite.
In an age before social media, I had no choice but to think my thoughts and ponder these imponderables through the night and all the way to the exam hall the next day. There was no space for Seamus Heaney or Emily Dickinson, my head was full of Mick McCarthy and John Delaney.
And Roy. Always Roy. Captain of my team, captain of my country, a samurai warrior in a world of Matty Hollands.
The exam hall was abuzz. Then silent. We were going to forget about the melodrama of Saipan for three hours. I was going to forget about it. The rest of my life depended on it.
I opened the paper and looked down the essay choices.
"Hope is a sustaining human gift."
"The life history of our own family."
"…after the war."
Ah, fuck off!
… But. But. My memory is bullshit. That's how I remember that moment of Roy's life intersecting with mine, but that's not how it happened. At all.
Like so many things about my relationship with the man from Mayfield, the truth became smudged and myth rushed in to fill the gaps it left.
In real life, the interview with Tommie Gorman took place a couple of days before my exam, not the night before. I probably watched it with my parents. And I didn't go to bed with imponderables racing around my head - I went to bed thinking: Roy is God.
That's the power of Roy. Not even empirical truth can stand in his way.
The game against Juventus is the same: did I watch it with my dad or with my friends? In my head it's my dad, but is that only because those friends bullied me out of their little gang soon after?
His exit from United in 2005: was I glued to the radio for the latest developments? Or was I too busy trying to impress some girl at college to give it the time it deserved?
That's why I've started the podcast Roy Keane Versus: because a lot of football podcasts are painfully samey these days, but also because I want to figure out Roy.
Why do I love him as much, if not more, when he's bad as when he's good?
Why does he attract more myth than Game of Thrones?
Why am I a grown man, who sometimes has a few cans and puts on the Vieira tunnel video just for a laugh?
I love Roy Keane. What the fuck is wrong with me?
You can listen to Roy Keane Versus on ITunes or by searching 'Roy Keane Versus' on your podcast provider.