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KEANO: THE TRUTH: Booze almost destroyed me, I will NEVER drink again; STAR REVEALS ALCOHOL HELL IN BOOK.

Byline: DECLAN FAHY, MIKE McNIFFE and PADDY MULCHRONE

SOCCER star Roy Keane is to admit for the first time how booze almost destroyed him.

In his explosive new book Keane - whose sensational sacking from his country's World Cup squad rocked football - says drink is at the root of his problems.

The Daily Mirror has learned that soccer's most explosive expose in years will reveal the Manchester United iron man - who hasn't touched a drop in years - has fought a constant battle with alcohol.

And the hardman midfielder, 31 today, has vowed to quit drinking once and for all - just like former England star Tony Adams.

The disgrace of his World Cup exit from Japan - following a venomous row with manager Mick McCarthy - could have pushed Keane to the brink of the alcohol-fuelled binges that chequered his early career.

But now, with his international playing days almost certainly over, the publicity-shy player has chosen to lay bare his soul in an autobiography ghost-written by close friend and TV pundit Eamonn Dunphy.

The book, which goes on sale at the end of the month, is set to be a bestseller in Ireland and Britain.

A source told the Mirror: "The book will be sensational. Roy is open about his drinking and how it has affected him.

"He cannot trust himself with alcohol anymore and that is why he called it a day. Boozing brought him nothing but problems. He had to quit."

Cork-born Keane knows his drinking revelations will shock millions of fans who worship him like a god but he wanted to tell his story, warts and all.

The source added: "He's brutally honest about the controversies that have dogged his career for a decade.

"And he has no regrets about looking back over his boozing and the problems it caused him.

"He has said: 'Sometimes you have regrets about doing projects because it becomes too much hassle but I've enjoyed going over old times'."

The book will also deal with Keane's sending home in disgrace from the World Cup after his huge row with McCarthy.

He knows his chapter about his bust-up may make him a lot of enemies but has said it will lift the lid on his shock exit from the squad.

To help deal with his booze problem, Keane now talks regularly to former Ireland team-mate Paul McGrath, who has also battled alcohol for years.

The source added: "The two have been in contact over their drinking. They are good friends.

"When McGrath went on his last bender, Keane even went to the famous Priory Clinic to see if there was a place for his friend.

"And Roy has also looked at the way former England captain Tony Adams changed his life after putting down the bottle.

"When Roy had his big row with Mick McCarthy at the World Cup, he talked about 'personal problems'. Coping with being off the drink is one of those problems."

Keane might earn pounds 100,000 (/150,000) a week but he has battled every day for the past three years to stay off the stuff that nearly ruined his career - and his life.

Some United players now even call him Boring Roy because of his new monastic teetotal lifestyle. But it's not long ago since he was a volcano waiting to erupt without warning - one rage away from going off the deep end.

The midfield ace, one of the greatest players in the world and former Premiership Footballer of Year, has hovered over the self-destruct button for years.

On the field he had a fiery temper but off the pitch he hit the headlines too - for all the wrong reasons.

Wild boozing sessions with fellow players and pals from home led to serious run-ins with the law and even a night in a police cell. They dogged his career ever since he joined Nottingham Forest in 1993.

But he admits they had been part of his career even before he became famous and decided to finally quit after a mammoth seven-hour session to celebrate United winning the Premiership in May 1999.

Two women claimed they had been kicked by Keane and branded him a bad-tempered bully who needed help to control his aggression.

They alleged the tough footballer lashed out in a Manchester bar after a furious four-letter exchange. One said Keane kicked her kung fu-style in the thigh.

He was also accused of making racist remarks and pouring beer over one of the women.

Keane, who always denied the allegations, was arrested on suspicion of assault and taken to a Manchester police station where he spent the night in a cell.

The following morning he was released, sporting a cut under his eye. A furious United manager Alex Ferguson arrived to pick him up. Keane was bailed without charge to re-appear at a police station in July that year.

But the case was dropped when two witnesses withdrew statements claiming to have seen Keane attack the women.

Police later found out that Keane had been set up. A newspaper had been contacted by one of the girls before a complaint was made to police.

At the time Keane said: "I was tired, I hadn't slept. I was just going over and over it. How could I let this happen? Then they said Alex Ferguson was on his way. The police were fine.

Most people saw what happened for what it was. I'm lucky in that I get on with Alex Ferguson but I'm not silly enough to think that he won't get fed up if it happens again.

"It was a set-up but my wife Theresa, the kids and all these other people deserve more.

"I've been naive, maybe. I'm 29 now with three kids and I don't want them to wake up again and hear that I am in a prison cell and for Alex Ferguson to be walking in. The whole thing hurt me. It was the final nail. 'What are you doing, Roy?'"

It was a timely decision to quit because Ferguson pulls no punches - even with his top players after they put themselves and their club in jeopardy while on booze binges.

But it wasn't wayward Roy's only high profile boozy brawl since joining the big league.

In 1993 it was reported that Keane was thrown out of an English wine bar by bouncers after ignoring warnings to behave himself. A year later he was banned from a Manchester club for spitting and swearing.

Three years after that he was barred from his local pub after a series of bust-ups.

He admitted after one session: "I've made mistakes. I was naive and probably drank a little too much. But the worst part about this life is the lack of privacy.

"I used to go to nightclubs, eat too much Kentucky Fried Chicken, have a drink and people were always ready to have a go at me whenever I went out.

"I used to get into bother. Then everything would get back to the club and get blown out of all proportion."

In August 2000 Keane's drinking was headline news again. It was reported that he had been attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in Sale, Cheshire, not far from his luxury /1.5million home in Hale.

Keane insisted he was there to help a friend and threatened to take legal action.

But friends said he did it because he was determined to stay off alcohol rather than return to his old wild ways.

One fellow AA member at the meetings said: "He sat at the back with a minder in a sports top and shorts, sipping from a cup of coffee.

"He did not say anything but nor did he make any attempt to hide his appearance. But his notorious close-cropped hair-style gave him away."

It was reported that he had been attending the discreet sessions, held in a first-floor room, for at least two weeks.

He sat and listened to alcoholics talk about how their battles with the bottle have ruined their lives.

One of the alcoholics who told his tale of woe was a fellow Irishman. Keane kept his AA membership a secret from all but his immediate family.

He discussed his problems with Ferguson but assured him that he was not drinking again and said he had only gone to AA meetings to support a friend.

Days later it was reported that Keane had been suffering from alcohol-related depression and signed himself in the stgEUR3,000 per week Priory Clinic near his home.

The clinic is the favoured refuge for the rich and famous when life in the fast lane becomes too much.

But Ferguson angrily denounced reports that his star player had checked in to the Priory.

He said: "I can only tell you what Roy Keane told me and that this story is not right."

But then in April last year it was reported that Keane was struggling with a new personal battle against depression.

It was claimed once again that he was being treated in the Priory Clinic after problems on the field spilled over into his private life.

He was also said to be receiving "life skills" counselling as an out- patient to help him cope with the pressure of his high-profile career.

Friends say Keane had been unable to cope with United being knocked out of the European Cup and the possibility of being transferred.

It was said he was given intensive one-to-one therapy with an expert counsellor to assess the severity of his condition.

A source said: "It is designed to make patients confront their demons."

The superstar is now reading anger management books to help control his notorious temper.

A source close to the player said: "When things went wrong in the past Roy could always have a drink to help him cope with the situation.

"He is now so against booze that he cannot tolerate fellow players drinking before a game.

"One reason behind his bust-up on Ireland's Pacific island World Cup retreat on Saipan was his contempt for certain players enjoying a drinking session on a night off."

His wife Theresa is said to be a huge settling influence on the star.

Keane married his now 30-year-old sweetheart in 1997 after meeting her in a Nottingham nightclub five years earlier. He puts her and their three children - Shannon, seven, Caragh, five, and Aiden, three, before anyone else.

KEANE: The Autobiography will be available from Monday, August 26, priced EUR25 hardback.

CAPTION(S):

STRAIN: Roy Keane and Mick McCarthy before their famous World Cup bust-up; DRIVING FORCE: Roy Keane; PILLAR OF STRENGTH: Roy Keane's wife Theresa; BONDING: He meets Roger Moore yesterday; DOGGED: Tortured Keane is battling his booze problems
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2002
Words:1785
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