Patrick Vieira explains targeting Gary Neville in famous tunnel bust-up

Patrick Vieira explains targeting Gary Neville in famous tunnel bust-up
Patrick Vieira explains targeting Gary Neville in famous tunnel bust-up

Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira admitted he ‘couldn’t stand’ Gary Neville as he revealed the cause for his famous tunnel bust-up with Roy Keane.

It was one of the classic moments from the Manchester United-Arsenal rivalry of the noughties as tensions peaked in 2005.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s United beat Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal earlier in the season to end their 49-match unbeaten run, with the latter unhappy over the physicality in the game.

It’s 19 years since Vieria made his feelings clear to Neville in the tunnel at Highbury in the reverse fixture and sparked a furious reaction from Keane.

Keane shouted at Vieria: “See you out there!”

When told to calm down by the referee, Keane continued: “Keep his f****** mouth shut.”

Vieira makes honest admission to Neville

Embed from Getty Images

The Frenchman was reunited with Neville on the Stick to Football podcast to recall the incident.

Neville said: “The context of this is… we’re warming up before the game, this didn’t start here I the tunnel, I’m practising my headers, Patrick’s doing what he’s doing over there.

“So I run down the tunnel at Highbury, tight tunnel, and I can hear like these thuds behind me and him [Vieira] shouting my name, ‘Oi you!’ or something like that.

“He ran up behind me in the tunnel and he went. ‘You won’t kick our f****** players today,’ or something, do you remember that Patrick?”

Veira replied: “That was planned by me. Because of the nine years I spent there, I didn’t like you at all.

“It’s true, honestly, I couldn’t stand you because you were just kicking everybody and especially Robert [Pires]. No [it wasn’t Phil Neville] it was him, I’m 100 per cent sure, and at that game I was just like, ‘I have to make you aware that today, you’re not going to touch Robert.’

“Because I knew that was the plan for you because you struggled against Robert and it was like, ‘No, today I will have to tell you, leave him alone.'”

He added: “I felt that you were over the top against him. Robert was really nice, he just stepped up but he’s too nice to complain. And I think at the time you went over the top and it was too much and it was too obvious.”

Vieira went on to joke: “Obviously because of United controlling all the referees and all the stuff… so you had so much power that you were allowed to do what you really wanted to do.

“So for me, I had it planned in my mind, it was like the warmup, I see you go into the tunnel, I will run after you. I saw you running, going into the tunnel, and I just ran behind you and I just wanted to make you aware that today will be different.”

Keane, who also appeared on the podcast, added: “I came down and there was something going on, there was noises but I forgot the armband.

“So that’s why I went back up the tunnel… but when I came back up the second time, I knew something had gone on, obviously what you said previously. I was quite relaxed with it actually, I was, because I never used to get involved in stuff in the tunnel.”

Keane continued: “I was agitated. My annoyance would be that you’ve gone after Nev, you’ve gone after Gary… but if you go after one, you go after all of us.”

United went on to beat Arsenal 4-2. The rest, as they say, is history.

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