"It doesn't mean we've fallen out or anything. It's just the nature of football that you play with lads for many years but then you move on very quickly, and everyone goes down different avenues.
"Sparky is a good bloke and we had many good sessions together, and I'm looking forward to seeing him tomorrow.
"I count myself as very, very lucky to have played with him because he was a top, top player.
"Any young striker out there who can get a video of Mark Hughes, they should go out and get it because he had everything as a player."
Keane insists he has nothing but respect for the impressive work that Hughes has done at Rovers, and he wants to bring a similar level of success to Sunderland, who are eager to shed their image as a yo-yo club.
"Mark was an excellent player and he's turned out to be a very good manager," said Keane.
"He was unlucky with Wales not to qualify (for the World Cup in 2002) and at Blackburn he has done a brilliant job.
"He has built well, they are a big, strong team and he has got some excellent players.
"They are in Europe at the moment and they hope to get in again this year, so that tells you what a good job he's done.
"They are a well-established Premiership team and that's what we want to be."