Roy Keane denies ‘hardman’ tag after being left ‘shocked’ by headbutt from Arsenal fan

Roy Keane leaving Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court - Roy Keane denies 'hardman' tag after being left 'shocked' by headbutt from Arsenal fan
Roy Keane leaves Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on Wednesday - PA/James Manning

Roy Keane denied trying to deliberately injure Alf-Inge Haaland as a player or ever calling himself a “hard man” during court evidence over allegations he was headbutted while on duty for Sky Sports.

Keane told Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court he was left “in shock” after the alleged attack during Arsenal’s Premier League fixture against Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium last September.

Scott Law, 43, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of common assault and it was at the start of Keane’s evidence when he was quizzed over the course of an hour by Charles Sherrard KC over his reputation in football and comments made on recent podcasts.

Haaland never played a full 90 minutes after Keane’s horror tackle in 2001 but the former Manchester United midfielder insisted he never intended to injure opponents. He also said the description of the tackle in his first autobiography was not approved by him.

“The autobiography was ghost-written – I didn’t say them words”, Keane told the court, with his second autobiography stating he “did want to nail” Haaland. “There is a difference between hurting someone and injuring them, 100 per cent.

“Players know when you go into tackles, when you are physical and hit someone, there’s a good chance you are going to get hurt. Injured is different. That was the game I was in – people hurt me, and I have to hurt people. When you are playing in the middle of the park, you are going to get hurt.

‌He added: “I was sent off a few times, unfortunately. I also had bad referees.”

Roy Keane after his 'horror tackle' on Alf-Inge Haaland
Keane over Alf-Inge Haaland after his tackle on the Man City player in 2001 - Action Images/Tony O'Brien

‌At the start of his evidence, Keane was asked to give his profession, and replied: “Pundit, allegedly.”

He added that he also “does some podcast stuff”. It was during his work as a pundit with Sky Sports when he was left “in shock” after being allegedly “headbutted” through doors.

He also denied glorifying his role as a football “hard man”, with the court showed footage of a stamp on Gareth Southgate. “If you could get a quote that I’m a hard man, I will listen to it,” Keane said.

The Emirates incident occurred when Keane and fellow pundit Micah Richards were walking down to the pitch for the final match analysis.

“I was just walking and, before I knew it, I was hit. I felt the contact and fell back through some doors,” said Keane.

‌“I was absolutely not expecting it. The only way I can describe it is that I was in shock. I didn’t expect it to happen, not when I was in my workplace.

“Micah then gets hold of someone. He was just trying to get a grip of him and make sure he didn’t run off. I was saying ‘Call the police’. For about 15 or 20 seconds Micah was holding him up against a wall [to stop] him getting away.”

Keane was aggressor, claims KC

Mr Sherrard claimed Keane was actually the aggressor “as the red mist descended”, and said: “The only person who used gratuitous violence was you.”

Enhanced footage was shown of the aftermath of the initial confrontation, and he suggested it showed Keane “smashing his nose”.

‌Keane replied: “I’ve got bags in my hands, I was trying to grab him, to stop him from getting out. I must have said nine or 10 times, someone call the police. I’m trying to stop him from leaving.”

Richards is expected to enter the witness box on Friday morning.