Monday 11 December 2017

Doyle hails Keane as all-time great ahead of skipper's 100th cap

Neil Ahern

KEVIN Doyle believes Robbie Keane will forever hold a place in the pantheon of Ireland's greatest footballers, as the Irish captain prepares to make his 100th international appearance against Argentina tomorrow night.

While Shay Given yesterday suggested that Keane doesn't receive the widespread acclaim his performances deserve, Doyle was unwavering in his praise for the Tallaght man.

The Wolverhampton Wanderers forward placed his international strike partner alongside Liam Brady and Paul McGrath as one of the best players this country has ever produced.

"He's just been a joy to play with to be honest," said the 26-year-old yesterday. "He's on 100 caps, it's unbelievable. Someone was asking is he now going to be up there with the top players, the Bradys, the McGraths. I think there is no doubt that he is.

"He's the record goal-scorer by more than double what anyone else has got. He's played in World Cups, he's scored in World Cups, there is not much more to achieve at international level. He's only 30, so he has plenty of time to get plenty more caps. He's the captain. For strikers especially, it's great to see how he trains, he prepares. He's someone you can follow, try and follow.

"In training, not just in matches, he works so hard. It means as much to him to win a five-a-side as a match.

"Little things like that you can take from players who have played at the highest level, get records like he has.

"It makes you realise you can't just breeze through it as a young player. You realise what the better players do and try and copy that, to be at that level yourself."

Ireland 'keeper Given was in loquacious form in Malahide yesterday and he suggested that Keane is under-appreciated. He said: "I don't think he gets the credit he deserves in this country."

And Doyle was in agreement, saying that, had the Tottenham man been born in a major European football nation, he would have notched up far more than the 43 goals he has scored for an Ireland outfit with which he has only ever qualified for one major tournament.

"If you're playing for a Holland or a Spain, it's like playing for a Chelsea or a Manchester United; you're going to get more chances.

"In the top countries in Europe, I would imagine he has as good a strike rate as anyone."

Doyle (left) faces a big season at club level as he attempts to avoid the fate that befell his former club Reading in their second season in the Premier League with his new side Wolves, who finished in a highly respectable 15th place last term. But the Wexford native believes the signings that Mick McCarthy has made over the summer, including former Burnley striker Steven Fletcher and Doyle's Ireland colleague Stephen Hunt, will help his side steer clear of relegation.

"At Reading, the manager stuck with the same team and squad, he trusted us and had faith in us and we didn't repay him in the second season.

"Mick McCarthy has spent money straight after the end of the season, £6.5m on Steven Fletcher and Hunty and a good few others. I think that's what we needed to keep us all on our toes."

Irish Independent

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