Keane puts Galaxy on hold to relish moment

 

ROBBIE KEANE confirmed yesterday he had declined a request from the LA Galaxy to skip tonight’s second leg against Estonia and return early ahead of Sunday’s MLS Cup – the championship decider – against Houston Dynamo.

“They asked could I come back to LA but obviously the manager and myself and everyone said no because it’s still only halfway and it would be a tragedy if we didn’t qualify. We have to be professional and do the job.

“This,” he added, “could be one of the greatest moments in Irish history for me playing for my country. To miss a special night like that wouldn’t feel right.”

Asked whether there is a comparison to be made between his decision and the one made by Roy Keane a decade ago when he infuriated Mick McCarthy by returning to Manchester before the second leg of the play-off against Iran, the Dubliner ostensibly kicked to touch, although in truth his reply might easily have been taken as having been a cut at his predecessor.

“I don’t want to get into what happened in the past,” he said. “I can only talk about now and what Ireland means to me. My country means everything to me and I think you all know that. If I’ve got a slight injury I always try to come in to play. I would never not show up for Ireland, I can proudly say that.

“Roy was a top, top player and whatever happened to Roy happened in the past. I can only speak for myself. It is the proudest moment in my football career to lead the team to where we are.”

Whether the former Tottenham striker will stick around to try to top it in two years time is not yet clear.

He has consistently said he will play on as long as he is fit and enjoying his football but for the moment, he adds, he is trying to take it all one step at a time.

“You can’t look too far ahead,” he says. “As long as I feel good and sharp I keep coming. When you have moments like Friday night, and they don’t come around too often, you want to play as long as you can.

“I told the players afterwards in the dressingroom to enjoy the moment but football can give everyone a lift, the whole country and it’s great to be part of that.

“So I’ll continue as long as I can. As long as I don’t get too many injures. I’ll certainly play tomorrow night, then the Euros and then we’ll see after that.”