Keane and eager: Roberts the old warrior readies raw recruits to rob Roy and Celtic

The former Spurs and Rangers stalwart is plotting an upset in Scottish football's big day on Sunday. Nick Harris reports

Larger than life, not afraid to speak his mind: the former Tottenham, Rangers, Chelsea and England defender has much in common with Keane. Both won multiple trophies, captained their sides to glory, played for their countries and have been embroiled in controversy.

Roberts, 46, won two FA Cups and a Uefa Cup with Tottenham, a Scottish title and league cup with Rangers, and the old Second Division with Chelsea. Fourteen years of management, mainly in England's non-league, have also brought a haul of silverware.

Both men have recently relocated to Scotland, and both started the season with Manchester United, in a fashion. Keane swapped Old Trafford for Celtic Park, aka Paradise, last month. Roberts swapped Paradise - or rather his job as head coach at the Marbella Paradise of Football academy - to become First Division Clyde's manager eight months ago.

Clyde's headline pre-season fixture was a friendly visit by Manchester United. They lost 5-1 to Van Nistelrooy, Rooney and Co. Keane did not play, although he seems certain to appear at the Broadwood Stadium this weekend. Roberts is relishing the prospect.

"Roy will know he's been in a game," he laughs. "We're not concentrating on individuals. We know what Celtic are very good at and what they're sometimes bad at. We'll work on both."

Roberts is generous in his praise for Keane. "It's been an amazing season up here already and his move has given it another boost. I think he'll cruise through in Scotland. He's such a professional. He will want to win every game and the players around him will know that. The fella's a top professional and deserves every accolade he's ever had."

As for any suggestion that Keane is somehow taking an easy option at Celtic, Roberts laughs it off. "Apart from having a strong affiliation and a passion to play for them, Glasgow's a wonderful place to be. A fantastic lifestyle, friendly people. As for the pure football, apart from probably Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, then Celtic and Rangers are the biggest clubs in Britain.

"Celtic are a massive football club, there are few anywhere in Europe with bigger crowds. You're almost guaranteed Champions' League football every year. And as a top-level footballer, that's where you want to play, to test yourself, and win football matches."

Keane's debut adds spice to the Cup tie. "Added spice," corrects Roberts. "It's a big game. People all over the world have been after tickets. The atmosphere will be electric. And now [Keane] has added a great element. But the spice was there anyway."

That is an understatement. Roberts' assistant manager, Joe Miller, is a former Celtic forward, and at 38, is also still playing for Clyde when required. Roberts' history with Celtic is the spiciest. And after the so-called "shame game" in October 1987, he was one of three Rangers players who ended up in court on breach of the peace charges for on-field incidents. Chris Woods and Terry Butcher were found guilty.

The case against Roberts, who had conducted the Rangers' fans' chants and singing, was not proven.

That has surely affected his relationship with Celtic? "I haven't got a relationship with Celtic," he says. "Joe and I went to the Hearts-Celtic game last Sunday and Joe made me park at the Celtic end. I had to walk along the road with all these Celtic fans giving me dog's abuse. But you just keep on walking.

"I've got nothing to hide, and I'm not going to hide from anybody. Rangers have always been my team. I'm not going to change that. And just like we looked to beat Rangers in the CIS Cup earlier this season, I'll be looking to beat Celtic in the same way."

In that CIS Cup game, Clyde came within 15 minutes of shocking Rangers, leading 2-1 until the Scottish champions scored late and then won 5-2 in extra time. "We've improved since then," Roberts says. "There's no better platform than Sunday to show it."

For a small, cash-strapped club to meet both Old Firm teams in cup competitions in one season has been a major financial blessing. Clyde's entire budget for the season is around £300,000. The Rangers game netted around £110,000 and the Celtic match will bring a profit of around £150,000.

Clyde have a proud history, winners of the Scottish Cup three times, and finishing third in the league behind the Old Firm in the 1960s. But a year ago they were almost bust. In fact, only when Roberts arrived for interview did they drop plans to go part-time. They had only two players on the books.

A mass trial attracted 2,500 hopefuls, who were whittled down to the current squad, mainly youngsters released from big clubs. Most still live with their parents. The average age of the team is below 21. Roberts raves especially about the striker Tom Brighton (ex-Rangers, 21) "who could become a superstar" and the midfielder Stephen O'Donnell (ex-Dundee United, 22) "who's got everything, I've seen nothing like him".

His message to his players before kick-off will be simple. "Work hard and you'll get your just rewards. I know that. As a player I came from the non-league. The boys are looking forward to it. It's a chance to show managers who released them what they're missing. For myself and Joe it's a chance to pit our wits against the best manager in Scotland at the moment, Gordon Strachan. He's proved that, where he is in the league."

A pause, and another smile. "And I'm sure the boy [Keane] will enjoy himself, coming to us."

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
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.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices