English football has long built its reputation on honesty and integrity even if a few contentious moments have slipped through the ethical net.
Players arriving in England have quickly found out that antics labelled ‘part of the game’ on the continent are seldom brushed off with such ease throughout the football pyramid.
Diego Maradona’s infamous Hand of God sticks in the memory and when the Argentine World Cup winner told reporters he would love to score against England again, this time with his other hand, it called into question whether English football is too honest and fair.
But going to extreme lengths to get one over on your opponents is not as rare among English footballers as many might think.
Keown recalls the time he went head-to-head with Italy and AC Milan legend Alessandro Nesta, resulting in a rather unexpected outcome.
“In Europe, there were one or two Italian defenders that had bigger reputations than me and I tried to test them a little bit from set-pieces,” Keown told talkSPORT.
“I think Nesta, I took his headband off. He didn’t like it, it was affecting his hair.
“So he was marking me in a way which was just cheating. He wasn’t looking at the ball, he had both arms round me.
“I had to defend myself and kept knocking him away from me. I don’t think he’d ever seen anything like it and when I took his headband off he was crying like a baby.”
Keown, known for his no nonsense approach, helped form part of the Gunners’ compact backline alongside Tony Adams, Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn.
The quartet went on to guide Arsenal to a Premier League and FA Cup double in 1998, breaking Manchester United’s stranglehold on domestic honours.
Keown’s longevity outlasted the remaining members of the famous quartet and etched his name into Premier League history as part of Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles squad of 2004.