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Watch Rory McIlroy confront childhood hero Roy Keane about snubbing him for an autograph once

January 04, 2024

They say you should never meet your heroes, and even Rory McIlroy can vouch for that phrase. Well, young Rory that is.

The PGA Tour star is in position now to meet just about anyone he wants. And he's usually the most famous person in the room these days. But that was different a couple decades ago for a 12-year-old Rory when he encountered his childhood hero, Roy Keane, at a hotel in Ireland.

The four-time major champ talked about the brief, disappointing interaction with the Manchester United legend on the Stick to Football podcast. "I can't believe we're going to go straight into this." And then he bravely went straight into it with Keane sitting a few feet away. Have a look and listen:

"So I was down at the Portmarnock Links Hotel and the Irish team was staying and it was a training camp I think," McIlroy begins. "And I saw one of my Man United heroes in the lobby, Roy Keane, and I went over and asked for an autograph. And he looked up at me, he was sitting down, and he goes, 'Not today, kid.' I was like, 'OK.'"

Ouch, that's rough. And Keane looked a bit embarrassed before offering a funny follow-up.

"I was probably in the zone," he said, before adding, "The only thing I would remember about that hotel, honestly, it was always like, kids around annoying the players. Here's another one."

OK, so this is definitely a true story. Anyway, Rory turned out OK, but it's a good PSA for all star athletes: Don't turn down kids for autographs—especially because you never know which of those kids will grow up to be more famous than you and publicly shame you.