Friday 15 December 2017

'I'm not 25 anymore but I still have a lot to offer' - Robbie Keane

Keane was quick to point to his 20 goals in 24 games for LA Galaxy this season and although the standard in the MLS will not wash with a lot of people, his goal-scoring record speaks for itself
Keane was quick to point to his 20 goals in 24 games for LA Galaxy this season and although the standard in the MLS will not wash with a lot of people, his goal-scoring record speaks for itself
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

A lot has changed throughout Robbie Keane's 17-year international career but one thing that has always remained constant is the belief in himself to score goals at the very highest level.

Keane's role within the squad has changed in recent times and it has taken some adjusting to not being one of the first names on the team sheet.

The Ireland captain has taken Martin O'Neill's decision on the chin but that doesn't stop him from believing that he should be in the starting XI.

With Shane Long ruled out of tomorrow's play-off first leg in Bosnia and with Ireland without the experience of Shay Given, Jon Walters and possibly John O'Shea, Keane will certainly feel that he has even more reason to be included.

He won't, however, be banging down the door of his manager's office as he clearly feels as if his record of 67 goals in a green jersey speaks for itself.

"For me it's all part of, I don't want to say coming to an end because I'm far from that. And that means I won't get another three or four-year contract from the LA Galaxy if I say that," he smiled.

Ireland's Robbie Keane following a press conference
Ireland's Robbie Keane following a press conference

"But I think there's a few things that you have to look at. The system that he (O'Neill) plays, and I think as captain as well you have to be mature in these situations.

"I'm not 25 any more but I still have a lot to offer. A lot of goals. In terms of that, nothing has changed.

"For me as a captain it's important that I get the players together and make sure everybody is ready for the games.

"If the training is not right it's important that I say something. That role I've certainly enjoyed. It's leading, if you like, maybe into management.

"But I'm still far off that and I'm fully focused now. I'm still playing and I'm still scoring goals. As I've said I'm always up for getting chances and I've always delivered."

Keane was quick to point to his 20 goals in 24 games for LA Galaxy this season and although the standard in the MLS will not wash with a lot of people, his goal-scoring record speaks for itself.

"Always," he responded emphatically when asked if he still puts pressure on himself to score.

"Ever since I've been playing. I think I've scored in every play-off we've been involved in.

"But listen, I put pressure on myself in training to score goals. I think that's the standard you have to keep for yourself.

"If you always have that hunger and desire to continue to do that, and you know where to be to put yourself into those positions, if I continue to do that I'll always score goals."

It's almost impossible to imagine tomorrow evening going as well for Ireland as it did in Estonia this time four years ago but looking back on it, Keane feels that there are plenty of similarities between the mood of both camps.

"Actually, do you know, it probably reminds me of Estonia," the 35-year old said.

"The last few days there's not been much talk about it. Training has been very, very good. Very intense. I don't sense that there's much nerves from the players.

"I think as players, when you speak too much about games coming up, you can start thinking about it too much.

"I certainly find myself, as a player, that the more relaxed I am going into games, I find it a lot better. And the players have been like that this week.

"We have experienced players. You don't get too many opportunities to play in European Championships or World Cups.

"I've been very, very fortunate. Some players never do. Look at people like Ryan Giggs who never had the opportunity.

"We have the opportunity to qualify for a massive, massive tournament. I think the players certainly know the importance of that," he added.

Keane accepts that Bosnia have threats in Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic but he believes that even without several key players, Ireland have enough quality to qualify.

"The experience that we have now has been together now for a couple of years and we're certainly well capable of going there and getting something.

"We play in these big games and the importance of knowing that the whole nation is looking at you, waiting for you to produce, makes sure that the team is performing.

"There's always pressure. But this is good pressure.

We're in a good situation. A situation that maybe three or four games ago people probably didn't expect us to be in.

"We're here now and we're quite capable of beating Bosnia and qualifying.

"There's no question about that."

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