Tuesday 24 October 2017

Robbie Keane: I want kids in Ireland to wear LA Galaxy jerseys

Robbie Keane has his sights firmly set on achieving more success with LA Galaxy before hanging up his boots
Robbie Keane has his sights firmly set on achieving more success with LA Galaxy before hanging up his boots

Garry Doyle

Robbie Keane has indicated he would like to sign a new contract with the LA Galaxy and continue playing until his fortieth birthday.

Having already earned a reputation as the most successful import in MLS, Keane is motivated by the challenge of leaving a lasting legacy in Los Angeles.

Three titles from three-and-a-half years in California would suggest he has already achieved that, not least when you consider the statistics which show he has averaged 20 goals per season, including nine goals in play-off games.

Yet after winning last year's MLS Cup, Keane cryptically suggested he wanted a change, a stance he completely contradicted in an interview with Sports Illustrated yesterday.

"I want to win my fourth MLS Cup this year. And then after that I want five," said Keane.

"I'll continue to try for that because, first and foremost, I love playing the game. It's simple.

"And when you're playing, you're enjoying yourself, but you play to win games. You play to be champions, to have that moment when you score the winning goal, to have that buzz again.

"They're the feelings that don't happen to many players and you don't get that very often. I've had it for a few years now and I want that buzz again next year. I want to come back to the White House and see the president again.

"I see myself playing for a long time. I see myself playing longer than what I have left (on my current contract), which is one year. I see way longer than that - like four or five years - I can see myself playing."

Due to turn 35 this year, five more years in pro football would take Keane past two decades in the game, after a nomadic career has seen him play in four countries and for nine clubs.

Yet his latest posting, in LA, have provided him with his most success and it is here where he is determined to leave a legacy.

"I want to make the Galaxy one of the biggest names there is. That's about winning. People forget about the people who lose," he said. "You go without a championship for two or three years and other teams start taking over. It flips. Look at Chelsea and Man City, now. Man United were tops for years and years, and now it's gone. Liverpool as well. All the kids in Ireland when I was a kid, they were Liverpool fans or Man United."

Winner

So he wants to be remembered in California as a winner, not as a guy who hung out with the rich and famous like a certain former team-mate.

"David (Beckham) is completely different from me in terms of that because he's a brand, you know? I'm completely different. I came here to win things. And David also, but David had other things going on also. But for me, it's about winning.

"Leave a legacy here? I think I probably already have with what I've achieved since I've been here … but for me, that's not good enough. I want to keep going and make a bigger legacy.

"I still want to be the best player on the training field every day. I want to be the best player on the field when it comes to it on Saturday. Doing that, that shows them more than anything, then just sitting a young lad down and speaking to him, which I'll do anyway. But for me, it's showing them what it's like to continue to play at the top for long, long time."

It is an attitude which impresses his coach, Bruce Arena, the league's most successful manager. "The thing I really admire about Robbie Keane is the fact he doesn't say, 'at Liverpool, we did it this way. At Tottenham, we tried this'.

"He knuckles down, accepts his lot and works hard. That work ethic is as impressive as his quality. He is the ultimate team player and yet he can achieve so much as an individual. His ambition is massive and his drive remains massive."

In other news, the Irish U-21 manager, Noel King, has declared his ambition to qualify for the 2017 European Championships, even though Ireland were paired in an extremely difficult group that includes top seeds Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Andorra.

"It's obviously a tough draw because Serbia are European champions at the 1994 age group so they will be as strong as any top seed," said King.

"Italy will always be strong. But having said that, there is no team in the group that I wouldn't have realistic ambition of getting something from.

"We took four points from six with Italy when we played them two years ago.

"We have to believe we can get out of the group. Italy and Serbia are major powers so they'll be the top teams for everybody but I'll be setting the target of topping the group if we can.

"I know that's some statement to make but we have to believe we can do it."

Ireland kick off their campaign against Andorra next month on March 26.

Elsewhere, Ipswich Town have signed yet another Irish player, with Mick McCarthy persuading teenage winger Dylan Connolly to join the club from Shelbourne.

Irish Independent

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