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  Thursday, 23 May, 2002, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Roy of the Ravers

A casual observer might be forgiven for thinking the huge event about to kick off in the Far East was an under-12s tournament.

Anyone tuning into the World Cup news will have been bombarded with tales of players sent home, sent to Coventry or simply sent to bed without any tea.

And there was us mere mortals thinking they were there to enjoy themselves.

In the green corner we have Republic of Ireland captain Roy Keane, who is on his way home without having kicked a ball - or a player - in anger.

Keano stamped his feet and had a temper tantrum because someone had stolen his colouring book. Well, that was the gist of it.

He was temporarily allowed back into class after saying sorry to sir, but even star pupils can run out of last-chance saloons to drink in.

Mick McCarthy
Get out of my class!

Then there's Trevor Sinclair, who is currently spending more time in the air than David Blaine.

And what about the striking Cameroon squad, who refused to leave the ground without the reasurrance of a few grand in their sky rockets?

Throw in circus tumblers Freddie Ljunberg and Olof Mellberg and you have enough material to start up your own sitcom.

Essentially, Keane was upset that Ireland's goalkeepers had been excused from a five-a-side game, forcing the outfield generals between the sticks.

There followed an almighty row involving Keano, goalkeeping coach Packie Bonner and Republic boss Mick McCarthy, which resulted in the Manchester United hardman stomping off.

You can just imagine how the conversation went.

Roy:
"I'm not playing now."

Packie:
"Why?"

Roy:
"Because we haven't got any proper goalies, that's why!"

Packie:
"Well can't you play in goal for now?"

Roy:
"You can't make me."

Children play-fighting
Another bust-up in the Ireland camp

Mick:
(Diplomatically) "Well how about having rush goalies, like at school?"

Roy:
(Stubbornly)"Shan't! I'm going home."

Mick:
"Oh come on, Roy, please stay."

Roy:
(Smugly)"Why, because I'm the most important player in the team?"

Mick:
"No, because it's your ball."

Whatever really went on ('personal problems' was the official explanation), Keane went off in a huff to pack his satchel, leaving an excited Colin Healy preparing to fly in as his replacement.

Until Roy decided that perhaps he would like to play in the biggest tournament in the world after all, collected his toys and put them back in his pram.

Over in the England camp, Sinclair was having a sulk because that nasty Sven-Goran Eriksson wouldn't let him play with the big boys.

Uncle Sven kindly asked him to stay, for free, in the sun - just in case Kieron, David, Nicky, Sol, Owen or Robbie didn't get better in time.

But Trevor was having none of it and went off in a huff.

Then, just as he was about to touch down in England, Danny Murphy became the 451st England midfielder to get injured this summer, leaving the pilot unsure which way to turn.

Trevor Sinclair
You can run, but you can't hide

Finally, we have those Cameroonians, who staged a sit-in protest in Paris because they weren't getting enough pocket money.

Call me picky, but how much money do you need to agree to represent your country in the World Cup?!

The Indomitable Lions finally resolved their pay dispute and set off for Japan a few days behind schedule.

It means they will have just three days to prepare for their last warm-up game against England on Sunday.

Like they need them.

See also:

23 May 02 | Rep of Ireland
22 May 02 | England
22 May 02 | Cameroon
27 Nov 01 | Funny Old Game
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