Roy Keane is making his much anticipated return to football as manager of English Championship side Ipswich Town.
|Roy Keane walked out on Sunderland in December following the club's loss of form [GALLO/GETTY]
Tasked with the challenge of returning the club to the English Premier League, the 37-year-old former Manchester United midfielder, who left as manager of Sunderland in December, replaces Jim Magilton who was fired earlier in the week after failing to get the club into the playoffs.
Keane, who has signed a two-year contract, was highly successful with Sunderland in his first season – guiding the side to promotion in 2007, but left suddenly after they failed to make a big impact in the top flight.
Ninth-place Ipswich last featured in the Premier League seven seasons ago but have missed out on promotion again this season.
"I truly believe that I am joining a club that has the potential, ambition and infrastructure to once again be a Premier League side,'' Keane said.
"The club's owner (Marcus Evans) and chief executive (Simon Clegg) impressed upon me their total focus on achieving this quest at the earliest opportunity and I can't wait to get started.''
A fiery Irishman who was a fearsome tackler, Keane is of one of football's most colourful characters, although he often made headlines as a player for the wrong reasons.
Although he helped Manchester United win six league titles, he was sent off 12 times and had a feud with Alf Inge Haaland of Leeds and Manchester City.
Keane seriously injured his own knee trying to foul the Norwegian, and was suspended four years later and fined for a knee-high challenge on Haaland.
Keane later wrote in his autobiography that he intended to hurt him.
He walked out on Ireland's team at the 2002 World Cup after falling out with national coach Mick McCarthy at the training camp in South Korea, and he left United after a series of disagreements with manager Alex Ferguson before helping Celtic win the Scottish league and League Cup.
In his first job in management, Keane got Sunderland promoted to the Premier League as champion of the second-tier League Championship, having taken over with the team in last place.
The team finished 15th in the Premier League last season but he left the Black Cats in December, unhappy at criticism of his behaviour by new majority shareholder Ellis Short.
Now he has the chance to lead another team toward promotion, and he has a new management to work with.
Clegg, who worked on London's successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics and was Britain's team leader at last year's Olympics where it won its best medal haul for 100 years, was appointed chief executive of Ipswich on Monday.
"The appointment of Roy Keane further demonstrates our commitment to help Ipswich Town Football Club achieve our aim of returning to the Premier League at the earliest possible opportunity,'' Clegg said.
"Roy has experienced promotion as Championship winners as a manager and, importantly, then kept his side in English football's top flight, and I am looking forward to working with him.''
Evans is a wealthy media entrepreneur who bought a controlling interest in the club in December 2007.
"I am delighted that Roy has agreed to join us and we are completely aligned in our ambitions for Ipswich Town,'' Evans said.
"He has extensive contacts in the game and is a proven winner who encourages his team to play the attractive football that Ipswich Town fans have come to expect.
"I believe he is the right man to take this club where we want to be - the Premier League.''
Ipswich has only won the league title once, in 1962 under Alf Ramsey, who went on to lead England to their 1966 World Cup triumph.
Between 1975 and '82 they finished in the top three five times under Bobby Robson and won the FA Cup (1978) and UEFA Cup (1981).
Robson also went on to manage England and took them to the 1990 World Cup semi-final.