‘It couldn’t have worked out better for me’
Robbie Keane celebrated his record cap and wedding anniversary in style
Robbie Keane of the Republic of Ireland turns to celebrate after scoring a hat-trick against the Faroe Islands. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
There might be other years when their wedding anniversary is simply forgotten but number five for Robbie and Claudine Keane will probably go down as the one that was spectacularly overshadowed.
His wife tweeted about the significance of the date at some point over the course of the evening but the Irish captain certainly looked as though he had other things on his mind as he wandered, beaming broadly, into the mixed zone at the Aviva stadium last night.
The occasion was always sort of supposed to have been about him on this, his 126th appearance for his country, but nobody could ever have anticipated they way he would steal the show.
Three goals brought his tally at this level to 59 and there seemed, by the end, to be more reason than ever to expect him to keep on rewriting Irish football’s record books.
“It’s a special night obviously because of the whole situation,” he acknowledged afterwards; “getting the caps and obviously scoring three goals – for anybody, it’s a great occasion.
“The most important thing,” he insisted however, “was getting a good result and getting the three points. We were trying to get as many goals as we could because of the goal difference.
“I think against these teams it’s very important to get an early goal, and that was certainly the case but I wish we had have capitalised a bit more on it in the first half, it just wasn’t to be.
“The game usually opens up (after an opening goal) but to be fair to them they kept everyone still behind the ball and had a good shape to them, certainly in the first half. The second was a lot better from our point of view.”
The second half certainly was for Keane, in particular, with the striker getting two to complete his hat-trick and wrap up the Man of the Match award.
“Ah yeah,” he said, “what more can I say? It couldn’t have worked out better for me with the whole occasion.
It worked out well too, he said, for Wes Hoolahan whose inclusion in the team had given the Norwich midfielder the opportunity to prove himself in a competitive game and also, as it turned out, contributing a lot to his skipper’s special night.
“Yeah, I think it was a perfect night for Wes to play in because he likes getting the ball and playing little balls into the frontman.
“And for me, he’s perfect because he likes to get it and play it quick, and it suits me very, very well. He was brilliant.
“But,” he continued, “it’s a campaign; it’s not really about individuals. It’s about the team and I’m more delighted for all the lads.
“I have to say, the whole two weeks together has been brilliant. I think we’ve probably bonded more this week in terms of the way we played on the pitch and the way we’ve conducted ourselves off the pitch.
“ I think it’s been a credit to the management and everybody.”
A few feet away, though, his long-time team-mate Glenn Whelan was in little doubt that it was Keane who deserved to be singled out for special praise.
“He gets criticised but he just keeps scoring the goals and the fact that he’s done it on every stage shows the quality he has as a player.
“Personally,” he concluded, “I don’t think we’ll ever see the likes of him again.”