Tim Howard: Roy Keane's influence was incredible
He may have played an entirely different position on the pitch, but former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard insists midfielder Roy Keane had the greatest influence on his career.
Howard is the latest guest on the brilliant UTD Podcast as the former USA international discusses life with Tourette's syndrome, his education as a young player at United and plenty more.
When asked about the most influential player he has played with, Howard gave an answer that, on the face of it, is surprising. But after hearing his explanation, it certainly makes sense.
“When I look at my footballing journey, 22 years as a professional, what I would say is the influence and impact that Roy Keane had on me is second to none,” the now 42-year-old told podcast hosts Helen Evans, Sam Homewood and David May.
“I think he is the most brilliant, calculated, tough [player]. You can say a whole bunch of things about him. I was scared to death of him at the time!
“I didn't necessarily appreciate it [at the time] but when I moved through my career over the course of 20 years, I never ever encountered somebody who had the [same] ability to influence games. Messi probably does, Cristiano Ronaldo, another one who I played with, does, but the way that he was able to influence, isn't [like] that.
“I hear people talk about Patrick Vieira, with France and Arsenal, he had a similar way about him. But Roy Keane - the way he was as a human being and the leader of a dressing room was absolutely brilliant.”
Such comments on Keane are hardly rare. Howard is one of hundreds across the football world who see Keane as the embodiment of what a footballer should be. At United, the Irishman is comfortably in the discussion about the club’s greatest player.
“I think he was incredibly calculated,” the former goalkeeper said.
“If he wanted something done, if he wanted a right winger to track back, he would track back beyond the centre-half to make a tackle, to show the winger, ‘You can move 10 yards to do it, I just showed you because I did 70 yards’. I think he's got such an incredible footballing brain.”
Howard referenced Ronaldo as having a similar game-changing ability as Keane, even if in a different manner.
The American signed for United from New York’s Metrostars in 2003, in the same summer Ronaldo joined from Sporting Lisbon, and is therefore well placed to comment on the Portuguese’s character and ability.
“With Ronaldo, 99 per cent of the population see the fast cars, the yachts, the clothing, the underwear ads,” Howard began.
“Yes, you see the abs - that means that you hydrate properly every day of your life, that you eat right every day of your life, that you are in the gym every day of your life. That's a massive sacrifice. Very few people have the ability to do that.
“Oh, by the way, he's also amazing at football, and he works on that too. Most people don't have the insight, they take it for granted that he’s a good footballer who scores all those goals. But he’s worked at it, 24 hours a day for the last 15 years.”