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We won't see the like of Robbie again

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Robbie Keane celebrates after scoring Ireland’s first goal during the 2004 European Championship qualifier against Albania at Lansdowne Road. Pic: Sportsfile

Robbie Keane celebrates after scoring Ireland’s first goal during the 2004 European Championship qualifier against Albania at Lansdowne Road. Pic: Sportsfile

Robbie Keane celebrates after scoring Ireland’s first goal during the 2004 European Championship qualifier against Albania at Lansdowne Road. Pic: Sportsfile

Robbie Keane was a wonder. We are very unlikely to ever see a striker like him again from Ireland.

There have been many tributes to him since he announced he would hang up his international boots and all of them are deserved.

Chances are that if some kid turns up with the same skillset in the coming years, it will be Robbie who inspired him.

I know he has been accused of arrogance in the past and I even saw some mention of that in the piece Stephen Hunt wrote over the weekend about him in the Sunday Indo.

I was surprised by that. Hunt should know what all strikers are like and by pointing out some of Robbie's failings, I thought he missed the point.

All players have weak points but I don't think Robbie should ever be criticised for chasing glory everytime he's on a football pitch.

Some are born to do that and others are born to support them in the effort.

I knew great strikers. I played with Ian Rush and I played with Kenny Dalglish and I can tell you they were exactly the same as Robbie.

I knew many other top strikers in my time and they were all the same.

Shield

I reached the conclusion a long time ago that the only way a striker can survive in the game at the highest level is by building a protective shield around himself and many see this as over-confidence or arrogance.

But it wasn't. It was just raw self-belief and I've never met anyone who scores a lot of goals who doesn't enjoy the same certainty about their ability to score.

It's an absolute necessity really and it is what carries goal poachers through the lean times.

Just think about it. Every game Robbie played for Ireland he was expected to score. This was not a pressure which Hunt ever felt or I ever felt and I can't imagine what it is like.

It didn't matter if Hunt or anyone else played badly in a game. They might get some criticism but if Ireland didn't score, the spotlight fell on Robbie every time.

How else can you cope with that level of expectancy without being totally convinced of your own worth and happy to let everyone know that?

Robbie didn't just cope with it. He revelled in it and his commitment to Ireland was completely real.

His club career didn't produce many medals but it did produce plenty of goals. Just take a look at some of he video tributes now on Youtube.

Some have always said that he never scored against the big international teams which is nonsense.

He did and the record proves it but even if it was true that his only victims were lower ranked nations, who else would have scored those goals for Ireland and who will score them now when he's gone.

No, Robbie was the best striker we've ever produced and his international record will probably stand forever.

He loved playing for his country and I suspect that he had to agonise a great deal over his decision to quit. He probably still feels he could do a job

But time moves on and so does the Ireland team.

Robbie is still in love with playing football and more power to him if he wants continue to do it at a decent level for LA Galaxy for his long as he can.

I know. Once it's over, it's over and you can never go back.

So I raise a glass to Robbie Keane and wish him all the best for the rest of his life.

He was a magnificent player for Ireland and his name will be up in lights for a long, long time to come.


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