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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 May, 2005, 10:11 GMT 11:11 UK
Vieira hits out at Keane comments
Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira
Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has stoked up his rivalry with Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane before they meet in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Vieira has accused Keane of deserting the Republic of Ireland at the 2002 World Cup when he left the squad after a bust-up with manager Mick McCarthy.

Keane apparently condemned Senegal-born Vieira's choice to play for France.

Vieira told The Guardian: "For someone who leaves his team in the World Cup - he should keep the remark to himself."

Vieira heads a charity called Diambars, which helps children in Senegal.

And Keane is believed to have questioned his rival's decision to play for France when the pair clashed in the Highbury tunnel before United beat Arsenal 4-2 in February.

After the match, Keane is reported as saying: "It makes me laugh, players going on about how they are saving this country and saving that country but when they have the opportunity to play...well, it's probably none of my business."

It is better for him to look after himself and what he's doing
Vieira on Keane

Vieira incurred Keane's wrath in the tunnel for seemingly targeting United defender Gary Neville.

Vieira added: "He does not know my background and I do not want him to make a comment like that because he is not in a good position to say something like that.

"I will not say I intimidated Neville, I would say I tried to make a point.

"He reacted the way I would react if somebody came to talk to one of the Arsenal players - that's what I would expect.

"It did not surprise me at all, it was a captain's, a leader's reaction. I have big respect for him and all the Manchester United players, no doubt about it."

The pair have a long history of flashpoints and Vieira's remarks are set to increase the tension between the two ahead of the FA Cup final.

"I have nothing to prove to him," said Vieira. "He is not from Senegal, he is not from Africa, he will not understand.

"So it is better for him to look after himself and what he is doing.

"Even saying what I have just said does not take away the respect I have for him as a player.

"When I came to England he was the one I was looking forward to playing against because he is the best in the business in his position. I have big respect for him."

Meanwhile, Thierry Henry insists Arsenal can beat United in the FA Cup final on Saturday even though the striker is ruled out through injury.

"This is the biggest match I have missed in my career," Henry told The Sun. "It's a major disappointment. But the team can still win.

"I have to put the team ahead of myself. I had a talk with Arsene Wenger.

"Sometimes you have to be honest - I won't make it against United."


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