Robbie Savage on Roy Keane and the "Whazzup" voicemail tale

Former Wales and Premier League footballer chats to Off The Ball

Robbie Savage, Manchester United, Roy Keane,

Manchester United's Roy Keane challenges Robbie Savage (L) of Birmingham City during their FA Barclaycard Premiership match at Manchester Utd's Old Trafford ground. Picture by Phil Noble PA Archive/PA Images

"Sparky gave me permission to give him a call. So I got Robbie’s mobile number and rang him. It went to his voicemail: ‘Hi, it’s Robbie – whazzup!’ like the Budweiser ad. I never called him back. I thought: ‘I can’t be f***ing signing that.’"

That is an anecdote from Roy Keane's autobiography, The Second Half, in which the then Sunderland manager and current Ireland assistant boss turned down the chance to get in touch with Robbie Savage regarding a potential transfer.

With Ireland vs Wales closing in, former Welsh international and current BT Sports football pundit Savage joined Off The Ball to talk about his career and look ahead to Friday night's World Cup qualifier.

One of the things he looked back on was the "whazzzuuppp" voicemail. 

Laughing at the memory, Savage explained: "Do I regret it? Well, I would have loved to have met Roy Keane on that occasion. I was supposed to be meeting Roy Keane in a hotel in Manchester because that's where we both lived. He wanted somebody with a character, somebody that could galvanise a dressing room and I would have been the perfect thing for him.

"I think he went for somebody else. When he got my mobile it was the time when that famous advert was on the telly and it went 'Whazzupppp' and obviously when he phoned and got that message, he must have thought 'What the hell am I doing here?'

 

Robbie Savage during the Pro-AM tournament at Wentworth Club, Windsor. Picture by Adam Davy PA Archive/PA Images

Savage also recalled how his Wales career ended in 2005 under John Toshack and the famous radio interviewed where he uttered the famous phrase "How can a modern-day manager not have a mobile phone?"

"I was hasty and of course I regret it," he said of a Wales career that ended at just 39 caps when he was still a Premier League regular.

"But if I'd have carried on and played 50-60 times for my country, perhaps I wouldn't have played as many Premier League games, so it's swings and roundabouts."

He also spoke highly of the togetherness in the Wales camp during his time, drawing comparisons with Ireland squads from past and present, and added that this club team-like feel has continued on into the current Welsh team. 

He also recalled the early difficulties after getting a call up to the Wales squad in 1995 at a time when legends like Ian Rush and Neville Southall were still present and Savage himself was in the lower leagues with Crewe Alexandra.

The Wrexham-born football pundit also spoke about the agonising Euro 2004 qualifying campaign when Wales came so close only to lose to Russia in a playoff, with Savage describing it as "one of the biggest regrets I've got".

He also looked back at his rise through the ranks of Manchester United's famous Class of 92 when he used to be a striker rather than the midfielder he developed into later in his career.