Rory McIlroy told reporters at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship he remains scarred by Manchester United midfielder Roy Keane’s refusal to give him an autograph when he was a boy.

Now, to be fair, Roy Keane wasn’t the approachable favorite of adolescents everywhere that, say, his former Manchester United teammate David Beckham was. The Irishman was of the “hardman” mold. Fury, intimidation, aggression, and questionable tackles defined much of the midfielder’s playing career. In short, he wasn’t a guy most children sought out for his signature.

Here’s a taste.

Years ago, McIlroy spotted Keane at a hotel while the footballer was in Ireland for an international match.

“I went and asked him for his autograph at the Portmarnock Links Hotel and he said ‘no’. I’m sure he’s alright, but it sort of stuck with me ever since.”

“I’ve had it go the other way, where I’ve asked someone for an autograph as a kid and they didn’t give it to me and I’ve never liked them since. So if a kid asks me for an autograph, I always try to do it.”

Classy stuff. Most athletes acknowledge they are role models for children. But do you remember how staggeringly significant the players whose posters you hung in your childhood bedroom were? Superhuman in import, athletes are more gods than men to children.

The truth-talking McIlroy gets it exactly right. And Roy Keane should go ahead and send that autograph now.

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