Blogs & Opinion


Living the dream

Keane closing in on that Hollywood ending

Johnny Phillips - Johnny Phillips Posted 23rd November 2011 view comments

Downtown Los Angeles is not where Robbie Keane imagined he'd be spending the foreseeable future when he reported back for pre-season training at Spurs this summer, but then nothing has ever been predictable in an extraordinary career for the Irishman.

On Sunday Keane set up the winner to help his LA Galaxy side lift the MLS Cup with a 1-0 win over Houston Dynamos at the Home Depot Center. That success capped one of the best weeks of a career he can be proud of. And it's a career that still has time to get better.

Euro visions: the MLS Cup in the bag, Keane has his sights on the Euro 2012 finals

Euro visions: the MLS Cup in the bag, Keane has his sights on the Euro 2012 finals

I caught up with the 31-year-old Dubliner at his hotel in Los Angeles the day before that MLS Final in one of the few moments of down time he was afforded in a week that had taken in Tallinn, Dublin and a trans-Atlantic flight back to California. If he was suffering from jetlag it certainly wasn't showing.

"I only came back from injury a few weeks ago and I've played six play-off games in the last two-and-half weeks so it's been quite hectic," he admitted.

Robbie Keane doesn't court publicity and believes the time to look back is when his career comes to a close. With two years remaining on his contract at Galaxy there are more MLS titles in his sights.

Johnny Phillips
Quotes of the week

"But I've really enjoyed the three months I've had here. They're great people to work with and it's not a bad place to live either. It's completely different from what I'm used to back in England or Ireland, I can walk down the street and not get recognised. The move probably came two years earlier than I expected but when I got the call it just felt right to come."

Keane has been transferred for over £70m in a career that began with two debut goals as a precocious 16-year-old at Wolves, when manager Mark McGhee threw him straight from the youth team into the first XI.

It was a meteoric rise and within three years of that goal in the Championship, and still a teenager, he was walking out at the San Siro as an Inter Milan player.

"It was something that in no way I could turn down," he revealed. "It didn't work out but I'll never forget the experience and I will always have that to look back on when I've finished."

He left Milan in 2001 and it was at Leeds, Spurs and Liverpool that the striker played out the rest of the decade. Unsurprisingly he holds his first spell at White Hart Lane dearest.

"It was the best time of my football career and to be signed by such a great player as Glenn Hoddle was pretty special," he explained.

Hoddle didn't last long and Keane had to watch managers come and go before he finally won some silverware under Juande Ramos in the form of the Carling Cup.

Inexperienced

It was at Spurs where he formed his favourite strike partnership, linking up with Dimitar Berbatov. "If you look at the partnership I had with Berbatov, we had a great relationship. He's a quiet lad off the pitch but if you look at the way we played we complemented each other very well and everything seemed to click for us at Tottenham in those two seasons together," he added.

Recapturing his best form at Liverpool and in a second period at Spurs proved harder but despite being in and out of the team at club level, he remained a talisman for his country.

Keane is one of the senior faces of this Ireland team, along with Shay Given, Richard Dunne and Damien Duff. The rest of the squad are inexperienced but Giovanni Trapattoni has led them to their first European Championships for 20 years.

"He brings a calmness to the dressing room before games. There's no panic," Keane said of the 72-year-old manager. "That certainly helps the players on the pitch and if you look what we've done in this campaign and the last World Cup campaign, we've lost just one game in both sets of qualifiers. That's a great achievement."

Astonishing

A greater achievement is Keane's international scoring record. He has 53 goals for his country now. Only Miroslav Klose of Germany has more of any current international in Europe. For Keane to be up in second on that list is incredible.

Of his English peers he is way in front of Michael Owen (40) and Wayne Rooney (28). In fact no England international has ever recorded half a century of international goals; Sir Bobby Charlton coming closest with 49. That Keane has achieved this with a nation that has only ever once before qualified for a major finals during his career and does not have the resources other major European football powers can call upon is astonishing.

Persuading the player himself to reflect on such a record is harder. Keane doesn't court publicity and believes the time to look back is when his career comes to a close. With two years remaining on his contract at Galaxy there are more MLS titles in his sights. And then of course, there is Euro 2012.

"If you look at the history of the Irish teams in championships they always upset a few people. We have the players to make an impact. People say we're not a free-flowing team but we don't concede many goals and we've scored plenty in this campaign. We can certainly make an impact over there."

It is clear from spending just a short amount of time with Keane that playing the game is all he wants to do. He is not content to pick up his wages from the bench and that is why he has never shied away from moving on when the time is right.

With a domestic title secured in his first season in America, his country's greatest ever scorer is now hoping Ireland's campaign will have that Hollywood ending next summer.

You can see the full interview with Robbie Keane in America on Socccer Saturday this weekend.

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Guillem Balague

Balague: Barca training tough

Guillem Balague says Barcelona’s stars will suffer gruelling double sessions during their week at Burton....

Ray Wilkins

Wilkins: Rooney for captain

Ray Wilkins says Wayne Rooney is the "standout candidate" for the England captaincy....

Jamie Carragher

Carra: Gerrard hard to replace

Jamie Carragher says there’s no natural replacement for Steven Gerrard in the England team....

Latest News RSS feeds

Live transfer updates

Liverpool land Divock Origi, Ross Barkley signs new Everton deal and Southampton insist key duo will not leave.

Barkley signs new Everton deal

Everton midfielder Ross Barkley has signed a new four-year deal with the club.

Liverpool sign Origi

Liverpool have signed Belgium striker Divock Origi from Lille for a fee of £10million.

Saints chairman: Duo staying

Jay Rodriguez and Morgan Schneiderlin will not be sold, according to Southampton chairman Ralph Krueger.

Dzeko confirms City talks

Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko has confirmed that he is in talks about signing a new deal at the Etihad.

Features

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

La Liga: A look at the best buys so far in Spain

The top value signings of the summer might not necessarily involve the best players. Clearly, James Rodríguez and Luis Suárez are a cut above anyone recently recruited by Real Sociedad.

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

In part two of his Sky Sports Fantasy Football scout report, tipster Tim Clement looks at which young stars are set to shine this season

There’s nothing quite like spotting a young talent set to flourish and Sky Sports Fantasy Football managers will be especially desperate to discover the next young star set to shine.

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

Good Week/Bad Week: We take a look at the winners and losers from the last seven days

So much can change in a week of sporting action and, sure enough, there have been plenty of highs and lows over the past seven days.