ROBBIE KEANE insists his commitment to the Irish team remains as strong as ever, 15 years after his debut, as the LA Galaxy man travelled to Poland for tonight's friendly, even though he's not fit enough to play.
Keane captained Ireland to a 3-0 win over Latvia on Friday, the Dubliner scoring his 62nd international goal to tee up that victory, but he won't be involved against the Poles as he's suffering the after effects of an Achilles injury and needs an operation.
Martin O'Neill revealed that Keane turned down the chance to leave the camp so he could have his operation a week earlier as he wanted to stay with the group and offer his leadership.
"I wanted to come, I always want to be involved, I have time off after this, it's not like I have a game on Saturday. I will see the specialist next week and hopefully get this sorted out for once and for all, something will have to be done," said Keane.
"I know how desperate the players are to play for their country and how well we want to do.
"We don' t always do as well as we'd like to do, but we always give 100 per cent and come over to play.
"Why would you not want to come over? This is your country. Pulling on that green jersey is the best feeling you will ever get as a player," says Keane, adding that the chance to work with O'Neill was an added attraction.
"I have loved coming over and I am delighted with the chance to work with Martin and that gives you an extra 'oomph' if you like, but it's always been the case for me that I love coming over anyway, but (to have) the opportunity to work with a manager I have admired from afar."
For Keane and the other survivors from Euro 2012, this game and its venue adds a bitter taste, Ireland losing two of their three games at the finals in Poznan. Keane had a reminder when he came into the media room at the INEA Stadium.
"When I walked into that door I remembered this room, not great memories but that's gone, it's the past, we look forward to playing against a good Polish team tonight and it will be a different test compared to Latvia. It's a game the players are well up for," he said.
"It (Euro 2012) was tough to take, I don't think anything will help heal those wounds and, as players, you have to move on quickly. I am not a player who dwells on the past, I always look forward. You always want to win a game and we want to win this one.
"This is a new era. The memories of all the players who were involved in the Euros are not too good, but you can't dwell too much on what happened in the past, we have a new management team in place and we have to look forward.
"You have seen the response since the appointment, the whole nation has been very happy and that's what we want as players, but ultimately it's up to us as players to get wins and keep that buzz around Ireland. Hopefully we can continue that for a good while," added Keane, who also stated that he was an admirer of his counterpart with Poland, Borussia Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski.
"He's obviously a fantastic player, how he has come on in the last few years, he has got even better and it shows with the interest that he is creating around him in the football world. All the big teams seem to be looking at him, he's a very good player and a player that I really like, he is someone we have to look out for tonight as his goal-scoring record is incredible," Keane said.