Monday 22 December 2014

Robbie Keane is not planning Irish retirement as he prepares to extend LA stay

Damian Spellman

Published 14/11/2013 | 19:30

Robbie Keane smiles during the last training session before the 2014 World Cup Group C qualifying soccer match against Germany

Robbie Keane has admitted he will retire from international football as soon as his legs go.

The 33-year-old striker is on the verge of signing a new contract which could keep him at Los Angeles Galaxy for another three years and has no intention of hanging up his boots just yet.

However, while he is determined to add to his 130 senior caps and 61 goals to date, he will have no qualms about calling time on his Ireland career if he feels he can no longer contribute.

Keane, who will lead the Republic into friendly battle with Latvia in Friday evening in Martin O'Neill's first game as manager, said: "Listen, I want to play as long as I can.

"But I'm not daft. I'm 33 years of age, so next time the Euros come around...

"Ultimately it's the manager's choice. All I can do is keep playing well and keep scoring goals and if he sees that I can continue doing that, then there's no problem.

"But I don't have any problems with people making decisions. If anybody feels that I can help them now until the Euros and there's a situation coming around to the Euros where for some reason my legs are gone, then I'll pack it in."

Keane is unlikely to seek a loan deal to a Barclays Premier League club during the MLS off-season as he nurses a long-standing Achilles injury, but confirmed that he is close to extending his stay in Los Angeles by signing a new deal.

He said: "I haven't signed it yet, but it is verbally agreed, two and possibly three years. I am excited about that, it shows you how much faith they have in me to give me that contract.

"Usually when you hit the 30-mark, you get a one-year rolling contract to see how you are so it goes to show the faith they have in me to give me that contract.

"I will play on as long as I feel healthy and fit. At the moment, I feel good. I have a few niggles which I have had in the past and I will look at that.

"The time I'll have off will be good for me to do that, but I will continue as long as I can."

Keane's enthusiasm for international football has never been in any doubt, but even he has been invigorated by the arrival of new management duo O'Neill and Roy Keane.

When the names of O'Neill, Keane and former boss Mick McCarthy were put to him last month - as the Football Association of Ireland continued its search for the right man - he indicated any of the three would fulfil his personal requirement of having, as he put it at the time, "b**** and the capacity not to take s*** from anybody".

Asked for his reaction to the appointments, he said: "Well, when we were here the last time, the three names that were mentioned, I didn't think we would have two of them here, to be honest with you.

"But it's been great, obviously. I haven't had the pleasure of working with Martin before. There has always been certainly, a lot of speculation over the years as a player, but for some reason, it's just never happened.

"I didn't think I would get the opportunity again, but thankfully I have and as the gaffer said, the last few days has been very, very enjoyable.

"Everybody has been on form and certainly looking forward to a new chapter in Irish football."

Much of the talk since the new management team was installed has centred around the elder Keane and his fearsome reputation, something he himself attempted to dispel during his own press conference on Wednesday.

However, the current captain insists his relationship with one of his predecessors is fine.

He said: "No problem, no problem at all. When I came into the squad first, I was a young player coming through and Roy was a player that everybody looked up at and respected.

"For me coming in, he was always great. People tend to see the negative side, but when I came in, he was always great. Certainly me and Damien Duff, he would always speak to us.

"People forget, Roy is actually a very funny guy when you actually sit down beside him and very charming. You can have a good chat with him no problem.

"I have never had any problems with him. As I say when I came in first, he was great to me. You judge people how they treat you and he was always good to me."

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