‘Roy Keane screamed at me but I couldn’t argue back as my English was horrible’
Kleberson has hilariously revealed how a lack of English prevented him from starting a dressing-room quarrel with Manchester United captain Roy Keane.
Signed as a replacement for Juan Sebastian Veron, the Premier League champions forked out £6.5m to revamp their midfield in the summer of 2003. United fought off interest from European giants Barcelona, Newcastle United and Celtic to secure his signature but an injury sustained in only his second appearance blighted his time at Old Trafford.
That wasn't the only early indication that Kleberson was to endure a tough spell adjusting to the demands of Man Utd with notorious hardman Keane eager to demand more on the pitch.
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Speaking to OLBG, World Cup winner Kleberson said: "It’s true Roy Keane called me out in the dressing room in one of my first games. I saw the interview with Eric Djemba-Djemba, where he says Keane called me out.
"But my English at that time was horrible, I couldn't understand anything. I tried to understand what Keane said, and I didn't have anything to protect myself and say something. I was thinking, ‘go win a World Cup before talking to me’.
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"But I didn't have any English to argue back. It's kind of funny now because I understand what Roy Keane did at the club, the passion he has, the winning player inside him. He’ll push you and you need players like that.
"United had some big players like Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes at that point too, they were really leading the team. Keane on the field was really good but those two on the field also acted like captains, and were a big part of the club."
After making 20 appearances for Man Utd, Kleberson upped sticks and moved to Turkey just two years after his dream move to the Premier League. He then spent two seasons at Besiktas, winning the Turkish Cup and the Turkish Super Cup, but opted to return to his homeland upon the expiration of his contract.
After spending the twilight years of his career in the lower leagues of American football, Kleberson is now assistant manager to Nick Cushing at New York City FC.
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