Ruud Gullit tells us why that famous Roy Keane tackle on Marc Overmars was so important

Netherlands and Milan great speaks to Off The Ball

Ruud Gullit

Former soccer player Ruud Gullit of Netherlands is seen as he receives an international football career award during the ceremony of the "Golden Foot 2011" awards , in Monaco, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

In his new book, Dutch football great Ruud Gullit describes the famous Roy Keane tackle on Marc Overmars as the all-time best opening tackle in a match.

Speaking to Off The Ball tonight, the How To Watch Football author was explaining how he watches football and the importance of patterns of play including the importance of triangles.

But he touched on the World Cup 2002 qualifier at Landsdowne Road which opened with then-Ireland captain Keane setting the tone for a 1-0 win by putting in a crunching tackle on Dutch winger Overmars early in the contest.

"We have a good relationship with the Irish and this is an example," he said of the tackle that was only over-shadowed by the fact that Jason McAteer scored the winner that ultimately led Ireland to a World Cup and Netherlands as non-qualifiers.

"That tackle was important to make a statement to all the Dutch, like 'hey, here we are' and if somebody wants to have revenge, he will get a yellow card immediately. You don't give a yellow card immediately to Roy Keane in the beginning of the match. That was a statement for me. I was in the stadium by the way."

Laughing, he also added of the September 1st, 2001 match, that "it was my birthday, so you ruined my birthday as well."  

Roy Keane of Ireland tackles Marc Overmars of Holland ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

But he also explained what happened with the Dutch FA regarding negotiations that would have seen him become part of the national team assistant coaching staff this year.

"I was in negotiations and I asked fair questions like what happens, for instance, if for example [previous manager] Guus Hiddink leaves? What happens if Guus Hiddink leaves, what happens then with me? And they said to me that 'you take the other one's position' and I said 'yeah, but not on the same terms because it's a different position'...'no, no, no, we negotiate a new contract and everything'. I said 'OK, you put that in writing,'" he explained. 

"'No we can't. You have to trust me,' [was their response]. I said, 'look, what happens if you get sacked? I need to have it in writing'. But two days after, I found out that [former team-mate Marco] Van Basten was going to FIFA, so [they] knew when negotiating with me that there was a vacancy open and that was difficult for me to accept and I said 'no'. That's something that I should have known and should have had to know. So in that moment, I said 'no, I'm not going to take it.'"

Gullit also explained how playing alongside Johan Cruyff in his early career helped him and also suggested that Dutch football's current problem is a lack of quality players to make the system work well.