Roy Keane joins Darikwa's Forest

HARARE - Zimbabwe international defender Tendayi Darikwa will be under the guidance of one of the greatest players of all time after Roy Keane agreed to be Martin O’Neill’s assistant at England Championship side Nottingham Forest.

Although he is well-known for his days as Manchester United captain during Alex Ferguson’s reign, Keane is also a Forest legend by all rights.   

Signed from Cobh Ramblers for £47,000, Keane was one of the most astute pieces of business made by the legendary Brian Clough during his 18-year reign at the City Ground.

The midfield enforcer made 154 appearances for Forest, scoring 33 times, and was the club’s player of the year before switching to Old Trafford in what was a British record transfer at the time.

In 1993, Ferguson paid Forest £3.75m in order to bring the midfielder to Old Trafford where he also achieved legendary status.

Keane was the United captain when the club won the famous treble – Premier League, FA Cup and Uefa Champions League – in the 1998-99 season.

In total the Irishman won seven league titles, four FA Cups, and one Champions League title during his illustrious time at Old Trafford.

After his long playing career, Keane tried his hand at management and took charge of Sunderland and Ipswich Town achieving mix results in the process.

He also had a stint as Aston Villa assistant manager in 2014, a role which he combined with his duties as O’Neill’s number 2 at the Republic of Ireland.

In total, Keane worked for six years as O’Neill’s second in command at Republic of Ireland for six years before they both left the roles in November 2018 by mutual consent.

When O’Neill, a former Forest player as well, was announced as Aitor Karanka’s replacement earlier this month, it was only a matter of time before his trusted number two was also in the mix.

Forest announced Keane’s arrival on Monday afternoon after negotiations since last week.

"I am happy to be back. I know the manager, he came in a few weeks ago and things moved pretty quickly over the weekend. It is nice to get the deal done and get involved this morning with the first session,” he told the Forest website.

"I am looking forward to it, it is a big challenge and I am ready for it. It is good to be back and it will probably take a couple of days to get back in the swing of things. Obviously, I had great memories of my career here as a player, the club gave me my chance and I will always remember them for that.

"But it is a different challenge now and I am in a different position coaching the players. I am looking forward to it, a huge challenge ahead and 20 years out of the Premier League. It will be tough but I am looking forward to it."

There is no denying the aura Keane carries in world football and this will clearly benefit the Forest squad and Darikwa included.

Forest are currently in nine place in the Championship with 42 points from 29 games and trail log leaders Leeds United by 15 points.

The club is hoping O’Neill and Keane’s appointment can end their 20-year absence from the Premier League.

Forest are one of the sleeping giants of English football after winning two European Cups in 1979 and 1980 under Clough.

Both O’Neill and Keane were stalwarts at the club during the controversial Clough’s illustrious reign between 1979 to 1993.

Darikwa, 28, has turned into a Warriors cult hero after ever since he chose to play for Zimbabwe despite being born in England to Zimbabwean parents.

He has already featured for Sunday’s Chidzambwa’s side in two 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifiers against the Democratic Republic of Congo.

However, in both matches, he picked up yellow cards which ruled him out through suspension for the defeat to Liberia last November.

Darikwa will be available for the Warriors crucial home game against Congo at the National sports Stadium on 24 March.

Zimbabwe needs only one point from that encounter in order to punch a ticket for the finals to be held in Egypt from 21 June to 19 July.   

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