Monday 11 December 2017

'No one should forget what he has done for this country' - Keane

Robbie Keane pictured with Giovanni Trapattoni
Robbie Keane pictured with Giovanni Trapattoni
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland's dejected players refused to endorse manager Giovanni Trapattoni last night and instead sent a message to the FAI and John Delaney – it's your call.

Captain Robbie Keane, who refused to engage in speculation about his own future, relied more on the past than the future tense when asked about his manager, itself a direct hint that it is only a matter of when the Italian departs.

"We've started together and finished together. Whatever decision is made by the hierarchy is up to them. It's nothing to do with the players. Whatever does happen, nobody should forget what he has done for this country, regardless of whether he stays or goes," he said.

"He's been a credit and he's handled himself the way an Irish manager should. He's been very proud to lead this country. Whatever happens, we'll see. It's not my decision."

As that was the stock line from every player in the post-match mixed zone, Keane (above) was asked specifically would he support the manager staying on.

"I don't want to create headlines because I'm not really into that," he said. "Whatever decision is made, we have to respect that. From the start, he's been the exact same, he hasn't changed in any way. He's been brilliant for Irish football. I'm sure we'll know soon, won't we?"

Pressed that this did not effectively sound like an endorsement of the manager, Keane bristled. "That's not my decision," he said tersely.

Asked about his own international future, the US-based striker, now 33, insisted that contemplating retirement was not a matter for the present time.

"I haven't even thought about that," said Ireland's record goalscorer. "It's not something I'd get into now. I haven't even considered it. You're asking me the question now and it's the first time I've thought about it. I'm looking forward to going back to the Galaxy and playing. I'm not thinking of anything else."

Richard Dunne, who returned from a year on the sidelines to play in these two games that ended World Cup qualification chances, will now also miss next month's trip to Cologne but he hinted that he may yet stay on.

"It's very hard," he said. "They were two tough games to come back into. I hoped to come back, win the two of them and 'great, we're going to Brazil' but it didn't work out. It's disappointing. I fought hard to get back and it's a bit of a reality check.

"I'd like to (stay around). I don't want to pack it in straightaway after working that hard. We'll just have to wait and see, from everyone's point of view, what happens next."

As the FAI top brass spoke long into the night, he will not be alone.

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