Roy Keane accused of throwing punch at teenager after insult

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The Manchester United captain Roy Keane grabbed a teenager around the neck and swung a punch at him after the boy insulted him, a court was told yesterday.

The Manchester United captain Roy Keane grabbed a teenager around the neck and swung a punch at him after the boy insulted him, a court was told yesterday.

Mr Keane, an Irish international, marched up to the 16-year-old student, who allegedly called the footballer "a wanker". He took up a position where their foreheads were touching and "spat" with rage as he repeatedly demanded "Did you call me a wanker?" Trafford magistrates' court heard.

Mr Keane, 33, denies a charge of criminal damage. He also denies assault and a public order offence on 4 September last year.

Peter McNaught, for the prosection, said the two had clashed after the teenager (referred to in court as Boy A) and a friend (Boy B) had been riding their mopeds near Mr Keane's house in Hale, Greater Manchester.

Mr Keane was out walking his labrador dogs when the boy sounded his horn a number of times to acknowledge him, according to Mr McNaught

As the teenager and his friend passed by, Mr Keane swung out with his walking stick. He did not make contact but the teenager turned round and raised his hand in a "wanker gesture" towards the footballer, said Mr McNaught.

Mr Keane gestured back and approached the teenager a few weeks later when he spotted him again, wearing the same, distinctive yellow crash helmet. Boy A and Boy B were visiting a house across the road from the home Mr Keane shares with his wife, Theresa, and five children. Mr Keane, who was in his garden, spotted them and strode over.

The boy saw Mr Keane approach in his moped's mirrors. "I felt a bit like, 'God, what's going to happen now'," the boy told officers.

At first, there was confusion because Keane alluded to a middle finger being raised in the earlier exchange and his Irish accent was difficult to understand. But then Mr Keane said: "Did you call me a wanker? Why did you do that?"'

"Because you nearly hit me; you swung for me with your walking stick," the boy replied. Then Mr Keane allegedly swung a right punch at him and said: "That's nearly hitting you."

Testifying via video-link, the boy told the court: "I felt the hair of his fist against my face - it was within touching distance. He was saying things like 'I'll hit you in a minute; I will sort you out in a minute'."

Mr Keane, accompanied by United's solicitor, Maurice Watkins, listened intently as the boy continued: "I said 'you had better get out of my face'."

The boy said he walked away, threatened to call the police and Mr Keane started laughing and grabbed his arm. "I said 'I'm definitely telephoning the police now' and he started laughing [again] and he said 'Go on'," he recalled

"I was quite intimidated, I was quite shocked. He was saying how I thought I was a big, hard man because I had a moped and that I was being dangerous and exceeding the speed limit.

"He said something like 'Come back later and we'll see who's a big, hard man.' It was like he was pushing for a fight."

When Mr Keane had walked off around the corner, out of sight, the boy turned to his friend and said: "What a wanker", prompting Mr Keane to reappear again.

The youth recalled: "He approached me quite fast, walking over, pointing at me, saying 'Did you call me a wanker?'

"I said 'I don't know.' He was being pretty scary. He looked quite aggressive, the expression on his face. He was repeating 'Did you call me a wanker?'

He had his head right up against mine. He grabbed my shirt and must have caught my chain and was pointing.

"His forehead was touching mine. I was quite scared. He was spitting all over my face and saying: 'You had better watch it."

The boy said that when his neckchain fell to the ground, Mr Keane said: "Give it to me, I will get it fixed for you and you can get it back tomorrow." The footballer suggested he would get the chain welded - but the youth told him silver could not be welded.

Mr Keane allegedly then smirked at the youth and said: "Oooh, it's silver, is it?"

Mr Keane admits approaching the youth about an insult that was made to him but denies breaking the chain. He has been unable to explain the damage to the chain. The case is expected to finish today.