Former Manchester United captain Roy Keane claims he was offered the club’s iconic No7 shirt by then manager Alex Ferguson so as to prevent David Beckham getting it.
Keane, who left United in acrimonious circumstances in 2005 after years of dedicated and inspirational service, reveals the incident in his updated autobiography The Second Half, which is published on Thursday, but which embarrassingly has mistakenly already gone on sale in a supermarket in Manchester.
Maverick French star Eric Cantona had left the club in 1997 and Ferguson according to Keane was determined England captain Beckham would not get to don the No7 shirt, a number that had been worn by among other United legends, Bryan Robson and George Best and went on later to be worn by Cristiano Ronaldo.
“At United, ‘7’ was the iconic number,” Keane wrote.
“When Eric Cantona left there was debate about who was going to be the next captain. I was quite relaxed about it. But there was his number, too – ‘7’.
“Bryan Robson had had it before Cantona and, of course, it went back to Georgie Best.
“The manager pulled me into his office and said that he wanted me to wear the ‘7’.
“I said, ‘No, I’m not bothered.’ And he said, ‘I know Becks will f**** want it and I don’t want him to have it’.”
However, Keane did not give in and Beckham – with whom Ferguson enjoyed a stormy relationship – went on to lay his hands on the shirt.
Keane spent 12 years at United, eight as captain, and won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 1999 Champions League.