Keane lauds Zidane

2003-04-22 13:38

London - Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane has hailed Real Madrid counterpart Zinedine Zidane as the best player he's played against just days before the clubs meet in the Champions League.

Holders Real take a 3-1 lead into the second leg of Wednesday's quarter-final at United's Old Trafford ground.

And Keane, outplayed by France midfielder Zidane at the Bernabeu earlier this month, has no doubts about the World Cup and Euro 2000 winner's quality.

"The best player I've ever come up against would have to be Zidane," Keane told Tuesday's edition of the Sun newspaper.

"It seems so easy for him," the United captain added. "He works hard on his game, he is a physically strong player, he's got a great attitude and all the attributes," Republic of Ireland international Keane explained.

"Look at his goal in the European Cup (Champions League) final last year. That's a top player, on top of his game. To score, on his weak side, a volley coming out of the air it was fantastic, and it was a great goal to win the European Cup it really was.

"I think he was the only player in the world who could have finished that goal and for that alone I think Real Madrid deserved to win it.

"You've got to take your hat off to him. He would have to be the best, and he's still probably improving which is the frightening thing for all of us!"

Keane missed United's 1999 Champions League final win against Bayern Munich because of suspension, something that still rankles even four years later.

"I didn't feel part of it on the night we won. I got a medal back at the hotel but the medal means nothing to me. That's no disrespect to anybody, no disrespect to the players or the staff or the club.

"That's my own personal feeling. That's why, obviously, I'm trying to go and win my first one."

United - currently top of the Premier League - suffered the unusual experience of going without a trophy last season, a campaign that included a semi-final defeat to eventual Champions League runners-up Bayer Leverkusen.

"Last year everyone felt it was all set up for us, because things hadn't gone so well in the league, especially in the first half of the season," Keane recalled.

"But we'd been doing quite well in Europe, and we thought 'Oh this is our year'.

"Everyone got carried away because the final was in Glasgow, the gaffer's (manager Sir Alex Ferguson's) place.

"Unfortunately, we came unstuck in the semi-finals.

"We didn't win anything last season and it hurts, so we have to make sure it doesn't happen again this year."