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Arsenal legend Martin Keown is fondly remembered for his no-nonsense approach to football, though his wife was not always a fan of his actions on the pitch.
The pundit, who turns 56 on Sunday, was on the receiving end of a stern telling-off from his partner after his iconic coming together with Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003. The defender screamed in the face of the Netherlands international after he failed to convert from the penalty spot after Keown dragged him to the ground inside the box.
Obviously, the incident caused a stir in the media and is largely believed to be one of the highlights of the rivalry between Arsenal and United. But Keown has revealed that he tried to avoid the attention in the weeks that followed the match, telling the Independent: “I don't regret anything in my career.
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“You react as you see fit every day of your life, and it's the same on the football field. We'd contained the game until [Patrick] Vieira was sent off with about 10 minutes to go, and then it was like the Alamo.
“We felt that Van Nistelrooy played a huge part in that sending-off, and we felt cheated. We felt further cheated because we didn't think it was a penalty. So, yes, my behaviour was not acceptable from an Arsenal point of view, but you can't take that back.
“I rang my wife after the game, and she's usually very supportive, but she said 'I think you've gone and done it now'. It was the first time she'd ever said anything like that."
Arsenal were instructed to pay £275,000 worth of fines by the FA due to the brawl that ensued after Keown bellowed in the face of Van Nistelrooy, with several players receiving suspensions as well. Though the Gunners hero had the last laugh as his side did lift the league title at the end of the season.
Keown continued: “After that, I tried to stay in hiding, to be honest. There was a lot of media attention I didn't want, but thankfully it didn't detract from the focus of the team. We didn't get beaten for the rest of that season and we won the League.
“The manager was very, very supportive towards me, as were all the players, and I think I rewarded them for that support, even though I picked up an injury and played only a handful of games." Arsenal and United are both set to be battling it out for a place in the Champions League next season, and it should spark more feisty encounters between the club.
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