Sunday 17 November 2019

Robbie Keane: I will stop playing and stop scoring goals when I literally can’t walk

Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane and manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference. Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE
Republic of Ireland's Robbie Keane and manager Martin O'Neill during a press conference. Grand Hotel, Malahide, Co. Dublin. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Damian Spellman

Robbie Keane is certain he still has international goals to score as he approaches the twilight of his glittering career.

The 34-year-old LA Galaxy striker will hope to win his 139th senior cap for the Republic of Ireland in Sunday night's Euro 2016 qualifier against Poland.

It is 17 years since the then teenager first pulled on the green jersey he has worn with such pride ever since but despite having swapped the intensity of the Barclays Premier League for the emerging MLS, he is convinced there are more goals to come on top of his record tally of 65.

Keane said: "Of course there are. I wouldn't be here if I didn't think that.

"Has the Galaxy helped me? I'm not too sure. I think I've helped myself because of the way I keep myself and the hunger and the desire that I have.

"It's okay having the ability, but if you don't have the hunger and the desire, wanting to play and wanting to still be the best and wanting to still score goals, you're not really going to do too much.

"I still have that and I have always had it since I made my debut the first day, and nothing has changed since then.

"I'll stop playing and stop scoring goals when literally I can hardly walk. That's how much I love playing, it's fairly simple."

Keane's pre-eminence in Irish football history is remarkable - Niall Quinn remains in second place in the all-time goalscoring list, and he managed 21 - and while some have questioned his ability to maintain his standards into his footballing dotage, he has little doubt that he can still hack it.

However, he admits he cannot quite believe how quickly time has passed since he collected his first cap in Olumouc in the Czech Republic in March, 1998.

Keane said: "It's gone quickly, very quickly. Too quickly."

Retirement, however, is not on Keane's mind just yet, but the process of making it to another major finals tournament very definitely is.

Victory over Poland on Sunday evening would leave Ireland firmly in the race to do that, and might also provide a response to some of the team's critics.

Keane also hailed his possible strike partner Jon Walters: "Jon, you know what you’ll get from him, he’s a very honest player, he makes it very hard for defenders, he doesn’t give them a minute.

"Aside from that, he’s a great person to have around as well, a good lad, a good leader and it’s important to have players like that around the squad.

"To see the attitude of someone like Jon, when he’s came in, he’s been brilliant. He leads by example on the field, you can see that in his desire, he gives it everything he’s got. He’s a huge, huge player in the squad."

PA Media

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