Saturday 24 September 2016

Robbie Keane: I'll train with Team Ireland at the Special Olympics – if they'll let me

Published 24/07/2015 | 21:49

Republic of Ireland captain and LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane talking to members of the media in advance of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. StubHub Center, LA Galaxy, Arena / Stadium Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland captain and LA Galaxy star Robbie Keane talking to members of the media in advance of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles. StubHub Center, LA Galaxy, Arena / Stadium Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Republic of Ireland record goalscorer Robbie Keane says he would love to train with Team Ireland next week in Los Angeles, but only if they are willing to have him.

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A squad of 88 athletes and 40 coaches left Irish shores on Tuesday for the Special Olympic World Games which commences tomorrow with the opening ceremony in the LA Coliseum.

Ireland will be led out by John Treacy, who won a silver medal at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, actor Colin Farrell and Keane's wife Claudine, representing her husband who will be away on duty with the LA Galaxy.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool striker says he is delighted to be involved with the athletes, but understands the participants are looking forward to finally getting into action.

"I'm excited to be part of it, it's been going on or a year now and I have enjoyed every minute of it," he said.

"The athletes are just ready to play now, it's been a long build-up."

Read more: Video: Enthusiastic Team Ireland volunteers arrive in LA ahead of Special Olympics

While he will be absent from the opening ceremony, he is hoping to get involved in training sessions, but only Team Ireland are happy to have the marksman in their ranks.

"I'll have an opportunity next week to maybe do a bit of training with the lads, if they allow me to. I look forward to it."

The 35-year-old urged all the athletes involved to "enjoy" the occasion and not be overawed by the occasion, regardless of the global attention of the event.

"I think when you work yourself up too much about playing in games, I think that's usually when players struggle. When you just go out to enjoy yourself, be relaxed about it, that is when you play your best. Certainly from my point of view it has always worked best.

"That's something I'll speak to the lads about before they play any games."

Keane moved to Los Angeles in 2011 and while he says the main focus of attention will be matters on the pitch for the momentous occasion, admitted there is plenty to see and do in LA for the athletes and volunteers during their time off.

"When they have downtime, there is so much to do here In LA."

"I'd bring them around  if I was here but I'm away next week with the All Star game. There is so much to do here, but first and foremost they have to focus on what they are here for,  is to do well here and represent their country.

"To put that green jersey on, there is no better feeling in the world."

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