Wednesday 21 March 2018

Keane rules out following Michael Owen into retirement

Robbie Keane was unveiled as ambassador for the McDonald's FAI Future Football programme today. Photo: Sportsfile
Robbie Keane was unveiled as ambassador for the McDonald's FAI Future Football programme today. Photo: Sportsfile

Damian Spellman

ROBBIE Keane has insisted he has no intention of following Michael Owen into retirement just yet.

On the day the former England frontman announced he would be calling it a day at the end of the season, his 32-year-old Republic of Ireland counterpart was plotting Sweden's downfall in Friday night's World Cup qualifier in Stockholm - and targeting another four or five seasons beyond it.


The pair emerged on the international stage in a blaze of glory as teenagers and have since amassed a total of 94 goals between them for their respective countries, with Keane's contribution 54.


But the LA Galaxy striker is keen to add to his tally and admits he would not know what to do with himself if he did not have football in his life.


Keane said: "I am coming towards the back end of my career - I don't mean the end. I will still be playing for certainly a good few years.


"I have seen today Michael Owen retiring from football. Us two came around the same time.


"I dread the day I have to finish playing because it's my life, this is what I love doing. I wake up every morning and look forward to going to training and playing games.


"As long as I'm healthy and fit, I can easily carry on for another four or five years, easily."


The latter years of Owen's career have been spent largely warming the substitutes' bench, first at Manchester United and then current club Stoke, while the much-travelled Keane sought pastures new in Major League Soccer as he looked to continue his international career.


But he has always maintained that his hunger for what he does has never diminished, and he insists that remains the case.


Keane said: "I am always enjoying it. Even when things are not going well, you have to enjoy it.


"I'm very privileged to have the lifestyle that I have. I wake up every day and I get paid for something that I love doing. Not many people can say that."


Keane was excused Ireland's two most recent friendlies, a 1-0 home defeat by Greece in November and last month's 2-0 win over Poland, to spare him more trans-Atlantic travel and allow the Achilles problem which plagued him last season to recover.


But, while he has no regrets over not adding to his 122 caps in those games, he will move to within one of record-holder Shay Given if he plays against the Swedes and again when Austria arrive at the Aviva Stadium four days later.


Having spent the last decade and more putting international defenders to the sword, the former Tottenham and Liverpool striker is well-placed to assess the threat posed by fellow frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and he revealed he has received inside information from the Swede's Paris St Germain team-mate David Beckham.


Keane, who was speaking at the launch of the Future Football, a McDonald's Ireland and FAI programme to support grassroots football, said: "He's a top player.


"He's certainly one of the best strikers at the moment in the world, certainly on current form. He's banging the goals in.


"I was speaking to Becks and he was saying how good he is in training. Since he's been there, I think he's scored in every game.


"He's a top player. He's certainly one to watch, but I wouldn't focus too much on one player because they have other quality in the team.


"But it's one of those. We have to concentrate and look after what we do rather than worry too much about Sweden."


Meanwhile, Keane, much to his delight, confirmed recent reports that he and former Smiths frontman Morrissey are related.


He said: "I didn't know until he told me. Then I asked my mother, I said, 'Why didn't you not tell me this?'.


"Surely someone in the family in the 32 years I have been around, surely someone would have said it?


"She said, 'Your uncle has been saying it for years', and I said, 'So you didn't think to tell me, no?'.


"He was on Captains Road [in Crumlin], the same as my family. I think his dad and my grandad are first cousins, or something like that."

Online Editors

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