This week’s communiqué from the dearly departed of football’s elysium is the fourth instalment of ‘The Obituary’ series, where one of our posthumous pundits puts forward a eulogy for their favourite player in football history.
Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time on the ball of rock and water we call Earth will start to ask deeply fundamental questions about life and human existence, such as “why are we here?”, “what kind of life should I lead?”, “how has Emile Heskey cost a combined £26 million worth of transfer fees?”. It’s only natural to question the nature of humanity and both the staggering beauty and depraved cruelty homo sapiens are capable of. In many ways, football sums up the duality of the human condition quite well. In a single game can we can see moments of exquisite genius and sportsmanship, and then the manager brings on El Hadji Diouf.
A multitude of philosophers have spent years of their lives, and many more of their afterlives, pondering the contradictions and complications of human nature. Luckily for you, the gaggle of ghouls here at In Off the Ghost have been tipped off as to the whereabouts of their final resting places, and we decided to go and hassle 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche for his views on his favourite player in the history of football, which turns out to be everyone’s favourite moody midfield monster Roy Keane.
“Roy Keane was my favourite player of all time. Although to some he was the Antichrist, to me he was one of the Übermensch of Premier League history” stated Nietzsche, every word twitching his gargantuan moustache, which is still impressive even here in football’s afterlife. “We all know God is dead, and for Manchester United fans that God was Eric Cantona. When God retired to become a horrendous actor in France, Roy Keane was the water with which United cleansed themselves.
“But Roy Keane embodies my theories about humanity perfectly. His career goes beyond good and evil. We are, all of us, growing volcanoes that approach the hour of their eruption. How near or distant that is, nobody knows, but Keane seemed always to be on the verge. He was gifted, there is no doubt. He not only broke up play, he could also pass, score goals, and was a momentous inspiration for two hugely successful United sides. You only need to look at his performance against Juventus in the 1999 Champions League semi-final for proof of his ability. But he was also incredibly cruel. However, we should not demonize him for this. We must think of players who are cruel today as stages of earlier cultures, which have been left over. Lee Cattermole is just a remnant of Roy Keane, and Keane himself an heir to the legacy of Vinnie Jones and Ron ‘Chopper’ Harris. They show us what we all were, and frighten us, especially if you are Alf Inge Haaland. However, they themselves are as little responsible as a piece of granite for being granite.
“In his rush to inflict pain on others he himself took considerable damage. I used to say ‘was ihn nicht umbringt, macht ihn starker’ but after seeing his knees I have my doubts. Many people deny it, but Roy Keane was honest enough to admit that it is a pleasure to inflict pain, and by that measure I am sure he will have no regrets. When the day comes that I meet Roy Keane I will say to him:
‘Was sagt dein Gewissen? — ‘Du sollst der werden, der du bist.’ ”
(All material in this blog is entirely fictional and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone, alive or dead, other than those of the author.)