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Roy Keane, Manchester United’s number 7?

Roy Keane, Manchester United’s number 7?

For Ireland, Roy Keane was always number 6 (except for one game against Lithuania in 1997, when he wore 4). This was a good fit as he had worn it at Nottingham Forest too, though his debut against Liverpool in 1990 had come wearing 7 as Brian Clough chose him on the right of midfield.

Keane signed for Manchester United in the summer of 1993, when squad numbers were introduced for the first time. For the Charity Shield, United stayed 1-11 and Keane was 9, though when the Premier League numbers were announced he was 16, with the first-choice players in the 92-93 league win retaining their numbers.

That meant that captain Bryan Robson, for so long the number 7, had to be content with 12, with Eric Cantona now 7. When Cantona retired at the end of 1996-97, he was replaced by Teddy Sheringham, who always preferred 10, and David Beckham moved from 10 to 7 to accommodate him.

According to Keane’s new autobiography, The Second Half, it could have been him taking over 7 when Cantona left. How different might things be?

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6 Comments

  1. tun zaw mra
    January 19, 2020 at 07:17 — Reply

    Any stories behind Keane opting for 6? In a British numbering system he would have been 4 or 8 as a central midfielder. In both the 1991 FA Cup final and the 1992 League Cup finals Keane wore 6 with Des Walker wearing 4. Des Walker wore 5 for England and later 17 and 6 for Sheffield Wednesday. Des Walker as the bigger name (back then) could have demanded the 6. Also read in the Steve Hodge’s book that Keane effectively replaced Hodge in the starting 11 and effectively took the number 6.

    • James
      January 29, 2020 at 15:09 — Reply

      As a Forest fan, seeing Walker with a number different to 4 would look very wrong, and he’d long been established with the number when Keane broke into the side. I think Keane wearing #6 for 1-11 matches with his usual squad number being #16 felt right, although he wasn’t completely adverse to the number 4 https://www.sportsfile.com/more-images/S9708001/#0

  2. Barry Lynch
    August 28, 2019 at 13:04 — Reply

    Just found his number 4 top signed by him and the team in a charity shop in Newry for £15. Incredible

  3. leighc10
    May 11, 2015 at 13:03 — Reply

    Just come across this article – great read.

    I run a “Where are they Now” site focusing on ex Premier League footballers. You maybe interested in the Manchester United page http://www.premierleagueheroes.co.uk/manchester-united

  4. Jay29ers
    October 7, 2014 at 21:44 — Reply

    Great little titbit, that. Obviously most people have jumped on the conflict “revelations” from Keane’s new book but this is a gem.

    It should also be remembered that Beckham would have been very happy to “accommodate” Sheringham, as he always coveted the #7 and would have worn it at Real had it not been for Raul, and at LA Galaxy had Brand Beckham not been so associated with #23 by that point – especially when arriving in the country where the inspiration, Michael Jordan, was so revered in both sporting and marketing terms.

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Roy Keane, Manchester United’s number 7?