Keane: My debt to Cloughie

IPSWICH Town boss Roy Keane has more than just a soft spot for Nottingham Forest, but there will be no room for sentiment tonight.

Carl Marston

IPSWICH Town boss Roy Keane has more than just a soft spot for Nottingham Forest, but there will be no room for sentiment tonight.

Keane will forever be grateful to Forest, and his old manager Brian Clough in particular, for giving him the chance to make the grade as a professional footballer.

The tenacious midfielder was beginning to think that his time was running out, until the Nottingham club offered him a contract during his late teens. He has not looked back since.

“Nottingham Forest had a massive importance in my career. It was Brian Clough who brought me over to England, and they were three brilliant years for me,” enthused Keane.

“It's a great club. I came over as a young lad from Ireland, and I'll always be grateful to Nottingham Forest. I was already 18 or 19, and I thought that I had missed the boat.

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“A few of the other lads from my team had signed for other clubs, so I thought my chance had gone.

“I went home after my trial with Forest, and I then got an offer to go to Spurs, whom I had always liked as kid. But Forest then offered me a contract, so that was that,” added Keane.

Cork-born Keane had coped with the heartache of countless knock-backs, before his career-changing move to the City Ground, from semi-professional outfit Cobh Ramblers in 1990.

Three years later, and with 114 league games under his belt for a successful Forest side, Keane's career had taken off.

“I worked with some great people at Forest. Players like Stuart Pearce, Gary Charles, Nigel Clough and Steve Chettle were great lads,” recalled Keane.

“Then there was the backroom staff, with people like Archie Gemmill (coach) and Ron Fenton (coach and later assistant manager), and of course playing under Brain Clough himself.

“I'm sure it will be a decent game against Forest, and I hope that they get up the table and have a good season, but not before this week!” added Keane.

The Ipswich boss believes that just one slice of good fortune could be enough to secure that elusive first victory, and so kick-start their season.

A meagre haul of just two points from the first six games has left Town in the relegation zone, while tonight's visitors Forest are four points better off.

“We have to keep working hard. Perhaps we just need that bit of luck as well,” confirmed Keane.

“I can't fault my players for their efforts. I'll defend them all day long for that.

“But we are giving teams a helping hand in each game, and when you're not scoring too many goals, you can't afford to do that, like giving the ball away for Middlesbrough's first goal.

“The priority must be to keep a clean-sheet, that's what most managers want first.

“It would be nice for Wrighty (Richard Wright) to keep a couple of clean sheets.

“We just need to get a few wins under our belt. I still think we can have a successful season. If we stick together then we'll be OK.

“Sometimes you just need one decision to go your way, or a little bit of luck. Otherwise, there is no magic wand.”