Roy Keane made his Nottingham Forest debut against Liverpool at Anfield with a hangover, and Brian Clough made him clean his shoes the next day

    At times when you’ve had a little too much to drink the night before, all you want to do is stay in bed and write off the day.

    But the morning after going out to the pub with his teammates in Nottingham Forest’s youth side, Roy Keane was given the very unexpected news that he had his first call-up to the senior side… while nursing a hangover.

    In Keane’s defence, he wasn’t told about Brian Clough’s decision until the morning of the match

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    In Keane’s defence, he wasn’t told about Brian Clough’s decision until the morning of the match

    Just weeks after achieving his dream of joining a pro club, Keane was thrown into the deep end as he was a shock inclusion in Brian Clough’s squad for their trip to reigning champions Liverpool.

    He was merely a spectator for Forest’s 1990/91 season opener as he was still finding his feet in the reserve side.

    But a stirring display in a clash against a non-league side clearly struck a chord with Clough, who made a typically spontaneous decision to bring the then 19-year-old Keane into the first-team fold.

    Keane was none the wiser until the morning of the game, which was a matter of hours after he rolled into his digs somewhat worse for wear.

    “Afterwards [a reserve team match] I joined the rest of the reserves for a night on the town. Several pints later I slumped into bed. It was close to 2am,” Keane said in his first autobiography Keane.

    “Next morning I show up for training. The first team were playing that night at Anfield. As soon as I arrived at the City Ground, nursing a slight hangover from the night before, [Forest assistant] Ronnie Fenton approached me and Phil Starbuck in the dressing room.

    “‘You two are going to Anfield,’ he said. ‘Oh, and bring your boots,’ he added.”

    Keane still wasn’t under the impression he’d actually get on the Anfield turf, feeling his main role would be helping out with odd jobs in the dressing room.

    But he had a very big surprise in store…

    “To make myself useful, I began to help the kitman lay out the gear,” Keane said.

    Keane was going to be thrust right into the thick of it following injuries to Stuart Pearce, Steve Hodge and Terry Wilson

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    Keane was going to be thrust right into the thick of it following injuries to Stuart Pearce, Steve Hodge and Terry Wilson

    “‘Irishman, what are you doing?’ 

    “‘Helping?’ I replied. 

    “‘Well get hold of the No.7 shirt. You’re playing.’ 

    “‘Excuse me?’

    “‘You’re playing.’”

    Keane was so unknown that he was introducing himself to his new teammates during the warm-up.

    A fresh faced Keane held his own at Anfield and for the rest of the season

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    A fresh faced Keane held his own at Anfield and for the rest of the season

    A lesser mortal would’ve let the nerves get the better of them, but not this Irishman.

    “Strangely enough, I was calm leaving the dressing room. Clough had been daring and clever. He wasn’t afraid to back his judgement, and the way things had happened, he’d placed no pressure on me,” Keane added.

    There was to be no winning start for Keane at Forest as they fell to a 2-0 defeat on Merseyside.

    Keane being happy after defeat is a collector’s item but this match was about seeing whether he could handle elite level football.

    A ‘bonecrushingly sentimental Irish encounter’ with Liverpool’s Ray Houghton showed he was ready for the big time, and perhaps a sign of things to come in the future.

    Not that Keane is ever one to get carried away with his success but Clough getting him to clean his shoes the next morning just made sure the youngster wasn’t going to start believing his own hype.

    Keane was selected to play at Forest’s next match away to Coventry, before starting in a 3-1 win at home to Southampton.

    And the rest, as they say, is history.

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