Saturday 7 December 2019

Klinsmann hails 'role model' Keane as USA continue to aim high

USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann says Robbie Keane is an example of 'how much dedication you need, how much commitment you need' to succeed in the professional game. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann says Robbie Keane is an example of 'how much dedication you need, how much commitment you need' to succeed in the professional game. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Liam Kelly

Jurgen Klinsmann will never forget the first goal he scored for Tottenham Hotspur - well, almost never.

The former Spurs legend and World Cup winner with Germany looked a bit surprised when reminded that it was against Shelbourne in a friendly at Tolka Park on August 9, 1994, that he got off the mark in a Spurs jersey.

"Did I? It was many moons ago. Yeah, I have memories about that because obviously I was at Spurs a few times last week and saw my old team-mates.

"It's nice memories to have. I was surprised how many Spurs fans were living in Ireland. It was 12,000 people, and 11,000 were Spurs supporters. Good memories," said Klinsmann.

The task now for Klinsmann as US national coach is to create new memories and after guiding his side to the last 16 of the World Cup, his mission on this trip to Europe is to prepare the ground for future achievement.

Klinsmann's team lost 2-1 to Colombia in a friendly at Craven Cottage on Friday night, and despite letting four players travel home for MLS play-off duties, he's looking for a big performance at the Aviva Stadium tonight.

"We play for wins no matter where we go, no matter what the challenges and who the team is, we want to win the game.

Respect

"That's how we approached Colombia and we looked pretty good for an hour, then they turned it around with a very late goal.

"We want results. We want to win respect wherever we go and wherever we play those games.

"We can make it easy and play every game at home and choose nations that we might have a bigger advantage against.

"If I do that I'm not developing this programme, I'm not getting a team to another level, so we need those benchmarks playing Colombia, playing in Ireland, playing next summer in Europe, going down to South America, to get better and prepare for the real big tournaments," said Klinsmann.

Robbie Keane has returned to LA Galaxy for MLS play-offs and Klinsmann paid tribute to the Dubliner's impact on the game in America.

"Oh definitely, we would love to have seen Robbie on the field because he's just enjoyable.

"In the United States, Robbie Keane is a role model for all the American players growing up in this beautiful game.

"That's what he's done since he came overseas, he shows to the young players what it takes to become a professional, how much dedication you need, how much commitment you need.

"Robbie is the same Robbie in training as in the game, so he's huge for MLS because these are the type of players you need in an environment to help the league grow, and to make younger players understand what the real big players are doing.

"At the same time he continues to play for Ireland at the highest level, scoring goals, despite going back and forth.

"I'd definitely use him as an example of how to do it. He will leave a huge mark, hopefully a long time down the road when he leaves the game, with what he's done for MLS over the years," said Klinsmann.

The four players released to their clubs are DaMarcus Beasley, (Houston Dynamo), Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen of New England Revolution, and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).

Klinsmann is, like all international managers, trying to balance good relationships with club team bosses as well as doing his best for the national team.

His team will still be strong and all the players out to impress, none more so than Brad Guzan who remains number one goalkeeper at Aston Villa, with Shay Given champing at the bit to oust him.

Theirs is a friendly rivaly, but a rivalry nonetheless, and Given hopes that he plays in this match to prove a point. Guzan looks forward to the challenge.

"Yeah, we were speaking a little bit before the camp, it will be an exciting time to see what the team sheet says but it will good to see him regardless.

"Yeah of course, that's what goalkeeping is all about. You're fighting for playing time but our relationship has been very good, both on and off the pitch.

"For me, I've been very fortunate to work with him for so long now, his resume speaks for himself, what he's done, not only at club level but at international level. It speaks volumes for him as a professional," said Guzan.

The influence of Roy Keane has been beneficial to Villa, and Keane spoke of his respect for the American 'keeper, saying he was one of the few characters left in the game.

"Obviously he's a passionate guy who wants to win," added Guzan, "so for the past couple of months now, working with him at Villa, he brings that intensity, brings that passion to training and into matches and that's what you want on a training ground."

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