Robbie Keane eyes more success with Ireland and LA Galaxy, blogs Johnny Phillips
Johnny Phillips found Robbie Keane as hungry as ever to add to his goals tally for club and country.
Last Updated: 14/11/13 3:02pm
To have scored that many goals for your country is phenomenal. It's what Robbie Keane has done and it puts him in the highest company the game has to offer.
He is in Europe's top five international goal scorers of all time. An exclusive club that contains Ferenc Puskas and Gerd Muller.
How it has been achieved is something of a mystery to the player himself. Sat over a coffee at the Ireland team hotel in Portmarnock ahead of Friday's friendly with Latvia, I tried to get Keane to explain exactly how he'd managed it. He shrugged and offered as straightforward an answer as he could.
"I don't think about it too much. It's obviously not a fluke that I've got 61 goals," he said. "It's having the desire and the hunger and that knack of scoring goals.
"I still have the drive and determination that I had at 18 years of age. I've been very lucky over the years that I haven't had any major injuries so in that respect I've been fortunate as well. And not forgetting, I've been playing with the national team since I was 18 and I'm 33 now."
Keane, the captain and talisman of Irish football, is now embarking on life under a new management structure after Giovanni Trapattoni's reign petered out.
Failure to qualify for next year's World Cup saw him replaced but Keane was eager to point out that short memories shouldn't cloud opinion on the Italian's reign.
"The last few years have certainly been disappointing there's no question about that," he added. "The Euros didn't go as well as everybody hoped. But Trapattoni's reign I think you have to look at as definitely successful.
"People always remember the last couple of years, that's the nature of the business we're in. If you don't qualify then you're going to face losing your job."
The arrival of Martin O'Neill, flanked by Roy Keane, has created a media storm ahead of Friday's match. There was the unprecedented sight of two separate pre-match press conferences; one for the manager and one for his assistant. Reporters hung on every word uttered by the pair.
"It's a new start now and everyone is looking forward to a new chapter," Keane continued. "This is a partnership that could be very strong for Irish football and the knowledge they have is going to be vital for the team. For us to succeed in the future we have the right men for the job."
Keane's own playing future will continue in America. His 2013 season came to a premature end with LA Galaxy's play-off defeat to Real Salt Lake but it hasn't dampened his enthusiasm for continuing his career in Major League Soccer.
"I'm looking forward to the future," Keane explained.
"I've just verbally agreed a two-year contract, maybe extending to three. I'm certainly excited about that and playing for the Galaxy in the future. I didn't think I was going to go there and then come back to the Premier League, but I'm enjoying my football there and the club has been very good to me.
"As soon as you hit that 30 age mark in football, people are reluctant to give you contracts but this will be the third contract I've signed since I've been there and it shows the faith they have in me.
"Since I've been there, it's been a strong league. It's a tough league because of the structure that works there with everyone competing at roughly the same level. Every team can beat every other so it's very competitive.
"When people come over to play in it, I always tell them, 'don't think you're coming over for a holiday'. There's a lot of pressure on the three designated players [each team can sign three players outside of the league's salary cap] as people are expecting you to deliver all the time."
LA Galaxy's elimination in the play-offs brought an end to hopes of a third successive MLS Cup after they defeated Houston Dynamo in each of the last two finals.
Keane has played a key role in those successes, but admitted that a third title would have been undeserved after the club struggled during the regular campaign.
Whilst he is back in Ireland during the close season, he is taking time out to gain some coaching qualifications, although he was keen to point out his career is not winding down.
"I've still got a good few years left in me," he added. "But I'm looking to do my coaching badges in January in Ireland. The FAI has a good structure here to help players if they want to do that. It's something I'm passionate about and need to get into if I want to stay in the game."
Coaching is for another day. For now the focus is on being part of another new chapter in Irish football, and hopefully scoring goal number 62. Then 63....and 64....
You can see our full interview with Robbie Keane on this weekend's Soccer Saturday.