The ‘cheesy’ line Roy Keane used when trying to sign former Manchester United teammate Giuseppe Rossi at Sunderland in meeting that was ‘like a scene from Goodfellas’ June 3, 2022 – Posted in: Soccer

Convincing a player who’s just been at Manchester United to sign for a newly promoted Premier League side would be hard for any young manager, but trying to convince as many as EIGHT representatives as well was a very tall order indeed.

That was the task facing Roy Keane, who pulled out all the best sweet-talking he could muster as he attempted to convince striker Giuseppe Rossi to turn down exciting offers across Europe for an adventure in the north east of England.

The talks resembled a scene from Goodfellas, Keane recalled

Keane was on a frantic search for new recruits as he looked to build a Sunderland side ready to stay in the Premier League, the Black Cats becoming something of a yo-yo club in recent years before that.

And in Rossi, who had a pretty uneventful three years at Old Trafford, Keane saw as a key player in that quest.

The former Man United captain’s bid to sign the Italian-American ultimately proved fruitless, but the experience he had when meeting with Rossi and his representatives may have had the Irishman wondering if he was going to be accused of being ‘the funny guy’…

“I tried to sign him when I was managing Sunderland, and not succeeding is one of my biggest regrets,” Keane said in his autobiography The Second Half.

“I’d made arrangements to meet Giuseppe. I met him at an Italian restaurant. He turned up with about eight agents. Three of them were Italian. His dad turned up too. It was like a scene from Goodfellas – I mean that in a nice way.

“I was at the head of the table, trying to persuade Giuseppe to sign for us. They were going, ‘Sell us Sunderland.’


Fortunately things didn’t kick off like it did in the famous restaurant scene in Goodfellas

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Fortunately things didn’t kick off like it did in the famous restaurant scene in Goodfellas

“And I gave him a line – it was either going to be very cheesy or he’d love it. We’d just been promoted. We’d agreed to pay £8 or £8.5million for him, which was a lot for a lad who hadn’t done too much yet.

“I said, ‘Look Giuseppe. I’ve got a good orchestra up at Sunderland. But I need a conductor. And you’re the man.’

“They were all whispering, talking among themselves. I was thinking, ‘It’s either gone down really well, or he’s not coming.’

“We finished the meeting. I was really delighted with it. He goes, ‘I’ve got to look at my other options’.

“A few days later, he signed for Villarreal. He contacted me and said, ‘Roy, thanks for everything.’”

Rossi only scored four senior goals for Man United but Keane was hopeful he could do a job at Sunderland

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Rossi only scored four senior goals for Man United but Keane was hopeful he could do a job at Sunderland

Rossi, who had something of an unpredictable career, failed to impress the Man United faithful having made just 14 appearances for the first team in three years at the club.

However, it was an incident in a training session which arguably set the wheels in motion for Keane to later try to sign him – Rossi impressively winning Keane’s respect without breathing a word or raising his hands…

“Giuseppe is Italian-American and one of the first times he trained with the first team I gave him a b******ing – I think because he didn’t pass the ball to me when I was in a better position,” Keane said.

Keane was known for his combative style that didn’t stop on the training pitch, but he respected those who earned it

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Keane was known for his combative style that didn’t stop on the training pitch, but he respected those who earned it

“And he looked at me – he said nothing. But I knew he was thinking: ‘Why don’t you f*** off?’

“I turned away and thought, ‘I like that.’

“If he’d said anything I’d have run at him. But he looked right through me and the message was clear on his face.

“I nearly went over and shook his hand. I liked him from day one.”

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