Keane and Vieira set to renew hostilities

Less than four months later, and despite Vieira's summer move to Juventus, the two men who epitomised the rivalry between English football's most successful clubs of the Premiership era will meet again. Keane's Republic of Ireland and Vieira's France are locked together at the top of their World Cup qualifying group, with only the winners guaranteed a place at next year's finals. Each have three matches left and neither can afford to lose when they meet in Dublin tomorrow.

It would be the perfect setting for the two men to reignite the last of their many conflagrations. Keane remarked sneeringly that Vieira's charity work for Senegal, the land of his birth, was in contrast to his decision to play football for France instead; Vieira noted that the comments came from a man who had walked out on his country just before the start of the last World Cup.

Vieira, however, has been pouring water on the flames. "The English media make a lot out of our rivalry," he said at the French training camp in Lens. "But what's important is that we have respect for each other. It's all part of the game. We've had our moments, but they've been within the laws of the game and in the context of the respect we have for each other.

"There are other players to worry about, like Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. They can make a difference, though there's no doubt that Roy Keane is their most important player. He's their leader. He drives them forward. He can dictate the rhythm of the match."

The French are expecting a highly physical game, but Thierry Henry pointed out that many of the players from both sides meet each other regularly at club level. "It's like that every weekend in England," he said. "It will be a physical battle. People want to set it up as a Roy Keane-Patrick Vieira confrontation, but more than that this is a game between France and Ireland."

Vieira added: "They will try to intimidate us and the more one-on-one physical duels that we can win the better it will be for us."

The return from international retirement of Zinedine Zidane has seen Vieira lose the captaincy and switched, against the Faroe Islands last Saturday, to an unfamiliar position on the right of a midfield three, behind Zidane and two strikers. "I prefer playing in the centre," he admitted. "I had trouble getting my bearings against the Faroes. It was fine from a defensive point of view, but I struggled a bit when we were going forward and I was trying to support 'Zizou' and the strikers. But from the team's point of view it's important that Zizou, Claude Makelele and Lilian Thuram have come back."

Nor was Vieira complaining about losing the captaincy. "I was very proud and happy to be captain," he said. "Now Zizou's the captain, but it's not as though he's stolen it from me. He was captain before he retired so it's logical that he should be captain now. We talked about it with the coach. I've known Zizou for a long time."

Vieira's manager at Arsenal, Arsène Wenger, who watched the 3-0 victory over the Faroes, says the Ireland game will be a major test for a team which has been reinvigorated by the return of Zidane, Thuram and Makelele. "What they've brought back is a feeling of comfort when France have the ball," he said. "There's more serenity in the team. They keep the ball longer. They give you more time. And the overall technical level of the team has suddenly gone much higher. Zidane's comeback has transformed the team. He's raised the whole country's hopes. When he came off against the Faroes, France were immediately not the same team.

"One of the characteristics of the really big players is that they make everybody around them better. He's at the age where he can make that happen. He still has the individual skill, but with his maturity he's developed that generous attitude to make everyone around him better. That's what happens with the great players."

As for Vieira, does Wenger expect his former captain to renew acquaintance with Keane in traditional style? "I think they're used to each other," he said. "There's a mutual respect. I don't think their meeting will be special."

l Jackie McNamara, one of only two members of the present Scotland squad to have played in the World Cup finals, announced yesterday that he will retire from international football unless the current qualifying campaign leads them to Germany next summer. The 31-year-old Wolves defender is poised to win his 33rd cap tomorrow as the Scots travel to Oslo to face Norway.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living