He took over the United captaincy from Eric Cantona at the start of the 1997/98 campaign, but his season was cut short by a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained in a tackle with Leeds' Alf-Inge Haaland at Elland Road in September 1997.
The 1998/99 season saw Keane experience a range of mixed fortunes. On his way to leading United to their historic Treble, a sending-off in the FA Cup semi-final replay victory over Arsenal was followed by a yellow card during arguably his greatest display in a Red shirt in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Juventus, forcing him to miss that unforgettable night in Barcelona when United were
crowned European champions.
Aside from his influential displays for United, Keane - who scooped Footballer of the Year and Players' Player of the Year awards in 2000 - proved an inspiration to his country and winning close on 70 caps for the Republic of Ireland.
A huge bust-up with former Republic boss Mick McCarthy, which led to Keane's premature departure from the 2002 World Cup, looked to have put paid to his international career, but he made a shock return to action under Brian Kerr in May 2004.
The reunion lasted only until the autumn of 2005, however. Following Ireland's failure to qualify for the