Robbie refuses to 'do a Roy' and skip second leg despite club's request
Robbie Keane has said he wouldn't contemplate missing the moment of qualification for a major tournament like Roy Keane did 10 years ago.
The Irish skipper turned down a request from LA Galaxy to return to the US after the 4-0 win in Estonia that put more than one foot in next summer's Euro 2012 finals.
Galaxy play the MLS Cup final this Sunday against Houston Dynamo, and coach Bruce Arena asked Giovanni Trapattoni if it would be possible to have Keane back. But the Dubliner, who has just returned from injury, quickly dismissed the idea.
It drew comparisons with 10 years ago, when Roy Keane missed the second leg in Iran after a 2-0 win in the first leg. The Corkman was returning from a knee problem, and his unavailability for the second game was a huge bone of contention between himself and Mick McCarthy which eventually blew up the following summer.
There are conflicting versions of the story, but there is little doubt that pressure from his employers, Manchester United, was a huge factor.
Current captain Robbie shied away from going into details of the past, but made it clear he couldn't imagine not being present.
"It's still halfway," he said. "I don't want to get into what happened, I can only speak for myself... if I've got a slight injury, I can still come in and try my best to play the game. That's the way I've been brought up. The country means everything to me. I would never not turn up.
"I've never done that in the past, and I can proudly say that. Roy was a top, top player and whatever happened in the past, you have to ask him, but I can only speak on behalf of me.
"This is one of the proudest moments of my football career, to lead the team to where they are now and hopefully qualify for the European Championships."
After investing a considerable amount of money in bringing Keane to the club in August, his employers will nervously watch events this evening.
They were unhappy when he exacerbated a muscle problem in Andorra last month, but the medical facilities in California have been credited for bringing the 31-year-old back ahead of schedule.
"Obviously, the manager and myself, said no," said Keane, when asked about the LA request. "It would be disrespectful, and a tragedy if we didn't qualify."
The well-travelled striker has also ruled out the prospect of a loan move to Europe this winter with a view to keeping himself sharp for next summer's finals.
On the contrary, the Tallaght man feels he will be fresher with the tournament coming in the middle of his season rather than at the end of a long campaign.