Exclusive: Meet Michael Keane

Ben Rebuck chats with Manchester United Under 21 captain and England Under 21 international Michael Keane...

Tego Sigel

6 years ago

By Tego Sigel

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A ball playing centre-back with two successful loan spells under his belt, young Michael Keane has eyes on making an impact at his boyhood club – Manchester United, but for now the England Under-21 international knows he has work to do. Speaking at the launch of the Nike Tiempo V, the Derby County loanee talked heroes, leadership, rivals and more with RWD Football’s Ben Rebuck.

On being a leader…
I’d say I’m a leader when I have the ball and have the responsibility of bringing it out from the back whilst trying to make things happen; especially if we’re losing. I’ll be the one to try and make things happen and get the team going. I do [lead] with my friends that I’ve known for ages and when I’m in a small group, but in a large group, like coming to a new team, I’m not one of the loudest ones, I’m just normal. I get on with everyone and I’m easy to chat to and quite chilled really.

On rivalry with twin-brother Will…
It’s friendly. I never really played against him apart from training and seeing as he was coming back from injury, I was taking it easy on him, but then he started to score a few goals so I had to stop that [laughs]. I’m going to have to start training properly against him. We’re always looking out for each other. He’s on loan at Wigan so I always find out how he’s doing. He had a frustrating year through injury but we’re always supporting each other. He’s raring to go so you should look out for him.

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On making his United debut…
It was great. It’s your dream from when you’re young, so it was an unbelievable experience. I was told the day before by Sir Alex Ferguson that I was starting with Scott Wootton and Marnick Vermjjl, who are also two young defenders. Obviously I was a bit nervous, but I was excited and couldn’t wait for the game. I was speaking to the reserve coach before the match and he was giving me advice, telling me to play my own game and luckily I played well and we got a win as well. Playing against Chelsea was a completely different experience. The atmosphere was crazy! I think we had a whole stand at Stamford Bridge, so there were loads of United fans. The Chelsea fans were up for it as well because there was a bit of a feisty game the week before, but I didn’t expect them to put such a strong team out. I welcomed it. I want to play in the Premier League, so I want to play against Premier League players and I think I did well. We played well until we were unlucky in the last minute, and even though we lost, it was one of the highlights of my short career so far.

“Ryan Giggs is an unbelievable professional who’s won so many trophies. His loyalty as well to stay at Manchester United his whole career is unbelievable. I’d spend my whole career here.”

On breaking into the United first team…
I will probably stay on loan in the Championship for the rest of this season, then if I do well I’ll look to get a Premier League loan next season, so that maybe the season after is when I’ll look to make my mark at Manchester United. Obviously there are five centre backs ahead of me, so I’d have to wait for Rio Ferdinand or maybe Nemanja Vidic, or both to retire to see what happens there. The first time I trained with them I think I had just turned 18 and I was training with the reserves. I got called over to the first team pitch where they’d just finished and I joined in with a little game they play at the end. I played next to Nemanja Vidic. I played really well, even if it was just a 15 minute little match.

On his idols…
I look at how Rio Ferdinand passes the ball out; he’s a big talker in the team and he’s always organising the people in front and that’s what I’m looking to improve on at the moment. I do talk quite a lot on the pitch, but I’m looking to do that more and keep other people focused and concentrating on the game. With Nemanja Vidic he’s probably the best defender I’ve ever seen! He wins all his headers, he’s tough to beat one on one, he’s aggressive when he’s playing so I can take things from both of them for sure. Ryan Giggs is an unbelievable professional who’s won so many trophies. His loyalty to stay at Manchester United his whole career is unbelievable. I’d spend my whole career here. I have to see how it goes and if I’m playing and things are going well for me. It’s my hometown and my whole family have supported them all their lives, so there’s no other club I’d want to be at really.

On academy progression…
Jonny Evans, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley have all come through the academy and they’ve all been on loan before breaking into the first team. I know Cleverley had two or three loans, as did Evans, and Welbeck was at Sunderland, so that’s what I’m looking to do at the moment. It shows that if you’re good enough you’ll get your chance at Manchester United, so it’s just up to you to take it.

Michael Keane wears the Nike Tiempo V. Available now from jdsports.co.uk