Roy Keane has sensationally left Manchester United by mutual consent.

A statement released by the Old Trafford outfit confirmed that their long serving captain has departed with immediate effect after it became clear that his future at the club was untenable.

The 34-year-old's representative Michael Kennedy met United chief executive David Gill at Old Trafford to thrash out details of Keane's severance, completing one of the most dramatic departures Manchester United has ever known.

United confirmed Keane's exit in a statement on their official website www.manutd.com which read; "The agreement allows Roy to sign a long term deal with another club to enable him to secure his playing career beyond what would have been the end of his contract at United in the summer."

However, RTÉ sports editor Tony O'Donoghue claimed that the decision was far from mutual, and that Keane was forced out in what ammounted to a sacking.

According to O'Donoghue, Keane turned up for a Manchester United reserve game last night only to be told that his services were not needed. When he enquired further he was told to take up the issue with Alex Ferguson, and following talks today, his exit was announced.

*Click here for Colm Keane's interview with Roy Keane, where the Corkman discusses his career and aspirations for the future.*

Keane admitted his sadness at his Old Trafford exit, but insisted that it was time for him to move on. "It has been a great honour and privilege for me to play for Manchester United for over 12 years," he said.

"During my time at the Club I have been fortunate to play alongside some of the best players in the game and in front of the best supporters in the world.  At all times I have endeavoured to do my best for the management and the team.

"Whilst it is a sad day for me to leave such a great Club and Manager I believe that the time has now come for me to move on.  After so many years, I will miss everyone at the Club.

"I send my best wishes for the future to the management, players, staff and supporters of the Club."

The announcement comes less than three weeks after Keane's amazing outburst at his team-mates during an MUTV interview so damning that it was deemed 'unbroadcastable'.

Alex Ferguson was known to be furious at the timing and ferocity of the personal attacks contained within the interview and publicly rebuked his skipper prior to the win over Chelsea on November 6.

Once the depth of Ferguson's feeling was known it became clear that Keane had no future at the club.

Keane had already cast doubt over his long-term future at United earlier this season when, in a live phone-in, he said he believed that his current contract, which was due to expire at the end of this season, would be his last.

The statement astounded Ferguson and Gill who believed they had a verbal agreement in place to discuss the Cork-born star's future later in the year.

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