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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The real story behind that beard

By Martin Emmerson
BBC Radio Newcastle

Roy Keane
Roy Keane does his Santa Claus impression

As reasons go for someone leaving their manager's position, Graham Taylor's theory on Roy Keane takes some beating.

The former England manager, who is now a Five Live pundit, says there were worrying signs in the run up to Keane's departure and they could be seen on his chin!

And as silly as this may sound, there are others who worked with the Irishman on a regular basis, who believe his moods were reflected in his beard growth.

When asked if he was surprised by Keane's departure, Taylor said: "Not totally. I do think there is a psychological thing about people who grow beards for no reason."

Taylor, who was famously labelled 'Turniphead' by The Sun when his England spell neared an end, added: "People may laugh at this and say it is absolutely silly, but he changed his personality when that beard was grown.

"My wife will tell you the truth. When I saw the beard I told her there were problems. I do think there is a psychological problem when people grow beards for no reason. I can't believe they do it."

In the last few weeks it was like looking at Santa Claus

Nick Barnes
Nick Barnes covers Sunderland for BBC Radio Newcastle and says there was a clear link to Keane's mood and the length of his facial hair: "Funnily enough, in the mornings when we used to go to a press conference at Sunderland we would get a text message from the press officer.

"The texts related to whether Roy had a beard or not and what length it was and we knew if it was getting long we had better be careful about the mood he was in. In the last few weeks it was like looking at Santa Claus!"

People's perceptions about beards can be far-reaching. Some argue you cannot trust a man with a beard, while others feel beards offer their owners something to hide behind.

The Beard Liberation Front was set up to counter such feelings towards facial topiary. Their spokesman Keith Flett said: "I have heard about the Roy Keane comments. This is not the first time someone has made such a comment about someone with a beard.


"There is a lot of anti-beard feeling out there, but I have to say Roy should be proud of what he has grown. His facial hair came to our attention a few weeks ago now and we have short-listed him for our Beard of the Year awards.

"Rafa Benitez of Liverpool is on the list as well, so Keane is not the only manager on the list."

The winner will be announced on 29 December, but Taylor is not convinced.

He said: "Before Roy made his decision he had the beard. Look at him now. He's made his decision and he is clean-shaven. How do you explain that?"

Anti-beard sentiment has raised its head in football before - and famously at Sunderland too. In the 1970s manager Bob Stokoe banned his player Roy Greenwood from an official team photo because he refused to shave his beard off.

Greenwood, who would then turn down a move to Arsenal, said he would not get rid of his facial hair despite his manager saying it was scruffy. He never appeared on the picture as a result.

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see also
Keane plans return to management
09 Dec 08 |  Sunderland
The Roy Keane phone-in
05 Dec 08 |  Football
Keane can return to management - Dunphy
05 Dec 08 |  Football Focus
Ferguson unsure over Keane return
05 Dec 08 |  Sunderland
Quinn sorry to see Keane leave
04 Dec 08 |  Football

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