I played with Roy Keane and Man Utd and rejected his invite for dinner - I know what he's REALLY like

Tim Howard in goals for Man United -Credit:AFP
Tim Howard in goals for Man United -Credit:AFP

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard admits he rejected a dinner invitation from ex-captain Roy Keane during his time at the club.

Howard, recognised as one of America's top goalkeepers, joined Sir Alex Ferguson's side following their previous Premier League title win in 2003, replacing Fabian Barthez. Joining a winning team that boasted such names as Gary Neville, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes, and Keane himself, was a daunting affair for the Stateside football hero. Early on in his career, he received an invitation to dine with Keane - an invitation that he chose not to accept.

The former American goalie shared his experience in a column for the Daily Mail, recalling how he was alone after his family had traveled back home. He said: "I was in my first or second year at Manchester United when Roy Keane got word that my family had gone back to the United States for a week. He invited me round for dinner with his wife Theresa and the kids."

Despite turning down the invite, Howard detailed how Roy Keane was acutely aware of everything happening within the club even at a personal level. "I was a young, foreign player but he knew everything that was going on within the club. He knew my family had gone home," he said. "He knew I was on my own. No one sees that side of Roy he is very much a gentleman in so many ways.

"I didn't go in the end - I was too scared! I just remember thinking: I am so deathly afraid to sit across from Roy in his own house and have dinner. He was Manchester United at that time - and he was far more fearsome in person. But the sentiment was there."

Despite not having the courage to dine with Keane, it's evident Howard holds a deep respect for the United legend. He spoke highly of Keane's leadership skills, but it was later during his stint at Everton - when Keane was coaching Ireland - that he saw a different facet of Keane's character.

"Roy is an incredibly well-read, intelligent, and thoughtful man," Howard expressed. "But he is also not someone who is going to share that with just any and everybody. Not everyone gets that side of Roy Keane. You have to earn that side of him What I learned at a young age was that his expectations were incredibly high. But if you pushed yourself to that level, then you were able to understand him more. If you didn't take shortcuts, then he had respect for you.

Tim Howard played for Manchester United for three seasons, and was the number one for two years
ISTANBUL, TURKEY - DECEMBER 8: Tim Howard of Manchester United shows his frustration during the UEFA Champions League match between Fenerbahce and Manchester United at Fenerbahce Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on December 8 2004 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images) -Credit:Manchester United via Getty Images

"Some people wonder if that style of leadership could work in today's game. I believe it would. Why? Because winners win. I was nervous about everything when I first got to Manchester United in 2003.

"But when meeting someone, Roy is a gentleman - he looks you in the eye, he shakes your hand, and he speaks very clearly. It's only once you lace up your boots and start training that you realise: this is a different animal.

"Roy created such an impossible standard - he set it for himself and that set the bar for the players around him. He thought there was a right way to do things - and there was. He was obsessed with being the best... He was also incredibly clever. Roy is very calculated in what he says, how he says it, the timing of it, the tone of it. I mean that in the most respectful way - he understood what the team needed at all times. ".

During his time at United, Howard celebrated notable triumphs including the 2003 FA Community Shield, the 2003-04 FA Cup and the 2005-06 League Cup. Following his initial loan transfer to Everton in 2006, he made the transition permanent the following year.