Leicester City defender Jonny Evans believes that former Manchester United man Roy Keane would have been able to play in any team from any point in the history of football in his prime.
Red Devils icon Keane was a battling box-to-box midfielder that was known for his leadership skills, while he was not afraid of taking a card or two if he felt it was for the good of the team.
Indeed, the hard-man image followed the former Republic of Ireland international throughout his career, but Evans, who came through the youth ranks at Old Trafford, was quick to note that legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson saw Keane as far more than a bruiser.
“Being absolutely Manchester United daft as a kid growing up in Northern Ireland, it was pretty inevitable that Roy Keane was my hero,” Evans told the club's official website.
“What an unbelievable player he was. We had this incredible team with all these star players, and he was the leader of them all, hard as nails… he was just there to be idolised. Just this huge, influential character. I idolised him.
“I remember when I was doing my YTS (Youth Training Scheme) at United, they’d always give us pieces of work to do. In this particular case, I think during the first year of the course, it was some material from a level two coaching course, and you had to fill in an analysis of a player.
“So, you have all of the player’s attributes down the left-hand column, then on a scale of 1-20 we all had to rate how good this player was in that particular field. There were, if I remember right, around 15 categories that you had to score the player on.
“Alex Ferguson had filled in a few of these forms on different first-team players, as examples to compare them on all the different categories. One of those examples was Roy Keane, and every single box was right near the top.
“Fergie was basically saying to everyone: This guy has got everything.”
And it was not just Sir Alex who noticed just how complete Keane was, with Evans revealing long conversations about his idol with another former United player, Darren Fletcher, while the pair lined up together at West Brom.
“Everyone knows Roy was a real leader who inspired other players, but he was also an unbelievable player in his own right,” Evans added. “Without a doubt, he could play in any team at any time, even today.
“I’ve spoken to Darren Fletcher about this at length when we used to commute together to West Brom. I didn’t really get the chance to train with Roy at close quarters, but Fletch did, and he said that Roy’s touch and technique were so underrated.
“Everyone thought he was a midfield enforcer going around tackling people, but I think he had abilities that were just way beyond everyone.”