Sunday 22 April 2018

Robbie: I've got years left at the top

Robbie Keane
Robbie Keane

Damian Spellman

Robbie Keane will win a record 126th Republic of Ireland cap tomorrow night confident he still has another five or six years in his legs.

The 32-year-old striker will add the title of his country's most-capped player to that of its record goalscorer when he passes the 125-mark he shared with Shay Given for less than a week in the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.


However, he has no intention of resting on his laurels as he contemplates several more seasons at the coalface.


Keane said: "I'm certainly enjoying it because you have to enjoy it. I love doing it, I love training every day.


"When you get older, your desire and your hunger are even more so because even though I don't I am feel coming to end - because I am not, I still have another at least have five, six years left in me - you know you are not that young lad anymore where you are not too worried about future because you feel like you can go on forever.


"I am certainly enjoying my football, there's not question about that, but I always have. I am very privileged, there's no question about that.


"I get paid to do something that I absolutely love doing. It's not that bad, is it?


"People forget I am 32 years of age, is not like I'm 34, 36 or whatever. People are talking about (keeper David) Forde being in the squad and he's a newcomer, but he's 33 years of age.


"I am a year older than Wes Hoolahan and he's a newcomer; John O'Shea is the same age as me.


"People talk about it because I have been around for so long. For me, I have certainly got no intentions at all (of retiring) at this moment in time.


"As long as I have the hunger and desire, there's no reason for me not to. I will retire when I stop scoring goals."


Given and midfielder Damien Duff announced their respective retirements from international football in the wake of last summer's Euro 2012 finals amid speculation that Keane and defender Richard Dunne could follow suit.


However, Keane insists the thought never crossed his mind.


He said: "No, I didn't think about it. Obviously, there were a lot of questions about it because myself, Richie, Shay and Duffer came through together, so we should leave together.


"But that's not the case. Shay is older than me, even though we came in around the same time. Me and Duffer came in at the same time.


"It was Damien's decision to retire, but I didn't contemplate it. If I felt like I had nothing to offer the team, I certainly would do that, but I still feel like I have a lot to offer for the national team."


Keane made his debut as a substitute against the Czech Republic in March 1998, although it is his second appearance against Argentina that he recalls with even greater fondness.


Asked what he remembers about his debut, he said: "I remember the jersey was about 10 times too big for me, and coming on for Alan Maybury. There were a lot of substitutions at half-time - myself and Damien came on.


"I remember the Argentina game at home probably more so than Czech Republic game.


"To play at Lansdowne Road - I used to go there in the schoolboy stand, get my £2 ticket and sit there with my brother and my cousins, and then a few years later to be actually playing there was obviously great."


For all tomorrow night will be a proud occasion for Keane and his family - his four-year-old son Robert will be mascot - he is focussing only on the quest for three precious points.


He said: "It's something that maybe in 10 years' time, I will look back on and be very, very proud of.


"But when you are still part of the squad and you are still training and you are still looking forward the game, it's something you don't really think about too much because you are focussing so much on the game.


"It's a big occasion for myself, but I think more so for the family. They are the ones who are speaking about it all the time and very, very excited about it whereas for me, the most important thing is playing the game tomorrow and getting a result for the team."

Online Editors

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