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Roy Keane v Graeme Souness could be the World Cup’s best rivalry after hardmen clashed on ITV, but who is the toughest?

IN their day, they were two of football’s toughest hardmen.

Manchester United legend Roy Keane and Liverpool icon Graeme Souness were renowned for bossing the middle of the park with bone-crunching tackles and a physicality that sometimes went beyond the legal limits.

Graeme Souness was a renowned hardman and TV pundit who isn’t afraid to speak his mind
Equally, Roy Keane doesn’t hold back and has built as a reputation as one of football’s toughest customers
Souness and Keane squabble at half-time over Argentina’s penalty

And now, as football pundits, they are fighting it out in the TV studio.

The pair went head-to-head over a penalty decision, when Argentina took on Saudi Arabia, with a Saudi Arabian star guilty of man-handling an Argentinian in the box.

Souness claimed the Saudi player had no interest in where the ball was – only the whereabouts of the player he was tracking – so the decision was rightly called.

He added the call was not down to “opinion” but “fact”, which prompted Keane to respond: “Well I’m here to give my opinion – that’s not a penalty.”

The disagreemnet between the pair, who normally wage their battles on Sky Sports, prompted us to look back at their careers – and who really is the hardest? SunSport’s conclusion is below.

Biggest bust-ups

Starting with Keane, the 51-year-old Irishman was never the easiest to get along with.

As a player, he was sent off seven times – with controversy following him wherever he went.

Perhaps his most famous red card was THAT revenge tackle on Alf Inge Haaland in the Manchester derby at Old Trafford in 2001.

Keane had previously accused the Norwegian of causing him a nasty knee injury when United played Leeds four years earlier.

Keane’s retribution was to hit his rival with a high-tackle – causing the ex-City midfielder a knee injury of his own.

Famously, he also slammed Ireland’s preparations for the 2002 World Cup and was sent home by manager Mick McCarthy from Japan.

Keano even took on Sir Alex Ferguson – admitting he wanted to leave the club in 2005/06, before slamming team-mates including Rio Ferdinand following a miserable defeat to Middlesbrough.

During a meeting, Fergie and the player were believed to have had a huge row that almost came to blows. That was the final straw, and his United career was over.

Souness, 69, was no saint either.

He started as he meant to go on. As a 17-year-old trainee at Tottenham, the Scot demanded he be given a chance in the first team in a fiery meeting that ended with Souness storming out and returning to Scotland.

His most astonishing sending off came just 34 minutes into his Rangers debut, after receiving two yellow cards against Hibernian.

Roy Keane’s ‘revenge’ tackle on Alf Inge Haaland caused his rival serious injury
Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy had a bust-up with Roy Keane during the 2002 World Cup that saw the midfielder sent home
Graeme Souness famously planted a flag with Galatasaray’s colours in the centre circle of Fenerbahce’s pitch

Then there was one of the most shocking tackles in football history against Steaua Bucharest in the European Cup – a vicious lunge on Iosif Rotariu that left his opponent with deep wounds and could have cost him his leg.

Management didn’t exactly mellow Souness either, especially during a spell in charge of Galatasaray.

In fact, he etched his name in Turkish football folklore with one astonishing act.

The setting was the Turkish Cup final in 1996, and Galatasaray had just won the two-legged game against rivals Fenerbahce on their turf.

Cue Souness running on to the pitch and planting a flag with Gala’s colours on in the centre circle – inciting a riot in an angry Sukru Saracoglu Stadium.

Success on the pitch

Both Keane and Souness were top class players who enjoyed incredible success and were far more than just hatchet men.

The former won seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups, and a Champions League with Man Utd, as well as a Scottish Premier League with Celtic.

While the latter can boast four First Division titles with Liverpool, and an incredible three European Cups.

In Italy, Souness landed a Coppa Italia with Sampdoria, and when he returned to Scotland with Rangers – two more Premier Divisions.

Keane played 67 times for Republic of Ireland, while his compatriot managed 50 appearances for his Scotland. Neither won anything for their countries.

Keane won seven Premier League titles during a trophy-laden stay at Man Utd
Keane’s opponents always knew he was around
Souness took no prisoners
Souness won three European Cup medals during his glittering career
During his playing days, Keane shared rivalries on the pitch with players including Patrick Vieira
Competitive Souness struck fear into his opponents on the pitch

Punditry gold

As pundits for Sky and ITV, Keane and Souness aren’t afraid to put in a two-footed tackle of an opinion – and they don’t stand for reputations.

France World Cup winner Paul Pogba continuously felt Souness’s wrath.

“He goes out with one thoughts in his mind,” Souness – who now also stars on TalkSport – once divulged.

“I’m going to show everyone how clever I am today and be the star of the show.

“He’d be an absolute doddle to play against.”

Souness has also been critical of Jack Grealish and his £100million price tag, labelling a “good player, not a great player”, which the England midfielder took offence to and called him out over.

To his credit, Souness then offered Jack Grealish a night out – which the former Aston Villa man hilariously accepted, as long as he can bring Pogba as a plus one.

Keane doesn’t suffer fools himself.

During his analysis, Marcus Rashford cracking a smile during a warm-up to players touching the Anfield sign have irked the Irishman.

Kean has caused controversy as a TV pundit
Paul Pogba and Jack Grealish have been stung by criticism from Souness

Where he has the edge of Souey might be his dry sense of humour.

He had TV viewers creasing up when he reacted to Chelsea team mates Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell and Billy Gilmour catching up ahead of England and Scotland’s Euros clash last year for 20 minutes.

“The only thing I would be critical of is why would you want to speak to an opposition player for 20 minutes?

“I don’t care if he’s your teammate or not. For over 20 minutes?

“I very rarely speak to anybody for over five minutes. After a game when you’ve been to war with somebody, why would you want to chat to somebody for that long?

“I think they could have used a bit more common sense. I rarely want to speak to anyone for five minutes.”

Host Mark Pougatch then queried: “I hope your wife gets more than five minutes?”

To which Keane replied: “No, never.”

Expect fireworks when Keane and Souness analyse games together
Although Keane is as fierce as the come, he’s on a par with Souness in the toughness stakes for us


How can you divide them?

Keane took on Fergie, one of the most feared managers of his generation.

Souness took on half of Istanbul with a moment of pure defiance at Galatasaray’s bitter rivals.

As players they won the lot, even on the highest stage in Europe.

While as pundits, Souness isn’t afraid to speak to his mind – and neither is Keane.

For this one, we’re going to have to sit on the fence. Best place, really, to avoid falling out with either.

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