Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira relive rivalry - after the former Manchester United and Arsenal captains shared ice cream in Warsaw

Thawing of frosty relationship, which is subject of TV show on Tuesday night, began with a shared ice cream

For nine furious years it was a relationship founded on and fuelled by an intense competitiveness, an absolute desire for physical domination and, from one side at least, hatred.

“I can’t think of any other word that springs to mind when I was going into battle with Arsenal,” says Roy Keane with a simplicity that makes it seem the most natural thing in the world. “Hatred was the word.”

For Keane to describe meetings between Manchester United and Arsenal through the closing years of last century and the first five of this one as “going into battle” is all too apt. It was the contest that defined a Premier League era. At the heart of this collision were Keane and Vieira: 19 meetings, eight won by Keane and his troops, six by Vieira and his, few passing without at least one tackle to make the nation wince or an incident that sent a rolling cast of Keane, Vieira, Martin Keown, Ruud van Nistelrooy and plenty others up before the FA beak. It may be only eight years since their last collision but rewatching Keane take on Vieira and the tackling already seems from a lost age.

They last faced each other in the 2005 FA Cup final. Within months both were gone, Vieira sold to Juventus, Keane bundled out of the door in typically controversial fashion.

“I shed a few tears in my car outside the training ground,” says Keane of his departure from United. “For about two minutes.”

Their paths rarely crossed until in the summer of last year they found themselves part of ITV’s team for the European Championship. One afternoon they explored Warsaw’s old town together. Keane bought Vieira an ice cream. The relationship thawed.

The interview between the two to be shown on ITV 4 this evening – a combination of the two chatting, occasionally sparring and often laughing – is an engaging watch, funny and informative. Shot in a disused warehouse in Manchester, it tells a good story, although the nostalgia undoubtedly encourages a more forgiving light to be cast on their occasionally thuggish on-field behaviour.

“It took two years to convince Roy to do the interview,” says Tony Pastor, founder of LoveSport productions, whose first major film this is. “Patrick took no convincing.”

“He is my favourite enemy,” says Vieira in the film of Keane. “I don’t know if that makes sense to you but it made sense for me, because I loved every aspect of his game.”

Vieira is the one who appears to have more comfortably carved out a post-playing career, most at ease with what he does now as football development executive at Manchester City, as well as his TV work. Keane tried and failed at management before becoming a regular at ITV.

From a distance, Keane is easily characterised, overly intense, overly aggressive. He lives up to elements of that in this film. Asked if his intensity at times hindered him, he replies: “There is no doubt about it. But that is part of my DNA. It’s no point saying I wish I had stepped back from that. You have to get in the ring.”

Those who know Keane better dismiss a simple portrait of an angry man, intolerant of the failings of others. He is, says one ITV producer who worked with him at the Euros, “super bright, not the man you think he is”. For example, Keane devours Malcolm Gladwell’s books.

There is evidence of the three-dimensional Keane here; his response to how he readied himself for the big games. “A lot of my preparation was about fear: fear of losing, fear of letting my neighbourhood down, my family down, fear played a big part in my sporting career,” he says. Gabriel Clarke, the ITV reporter who, along with Pastor, developed a relationship with Keane that cleared the way for this film, asks him which lingers longer, enjoyment at winning or the frustration at losing?

“The enjoyment was very, very brief,” says Keane. “Too brief. Before you know it you get into another game and the fear creeps back in, not wanting to let anybody down.”

Keane’s falling-out with Sir Alex Ferguson is straightforward enough, whatever the differing versions; Ferguson had had enough. Keane’s choice of Jaap Stam, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham and Paul Ince in his favourite United XI may coincide with the fact that like him they all fell out with Fergie. There is no place for Ryan Giggs, nor Paul Scholes or Gary Neville. Neville and Scholes came close, he says, but of Giggs he adds: “Having a great career doesn’t mean you’re a great player”.

Keane’s relationship with United suffered for his cold fury with Ferguson but this season he is back at Old Trafford as a season-ticket holder. There is the new job as Martin O’Neill’s No 2 with Ireland. He remains keen to manage down the line.

But there is always Keane the arch-competitor. His eyes twinkle as he asks Vieira if he recalls his misplaced pass that set Giggs on his way to that goal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final – a game in which Keane was sent off. He wonders why no Arsenal player fouled Giggs. “I would have just absolutely took him out,” Keane informs Vieira. Vieira’s eyes twinkle back. This is clearly a meeting both enjoyed, a rekindling of days gone by. Only now it has a scoop of friendship on top.

“There is not the same kind of excitement,” remarks Vieira of today’s meetings of the two rivals in red. “They are almost too nice to each other,” responds Keane. “There is almost too much respect for each other.”

‘Keane and Vieira: The best of enemies’, ITV 4, 10pm Tuesday night

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower