Robbie Keane: ‘Ireland has a special place in my heart and it always will’

Record goalscorer expresses gratitude to everybody who has wished him well after announcing his international retirement

 Robbie Keane during a press conference at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown on Monday. Photograph:  Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

Robbie Keane during a press conference at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown on Monday. Photograph: Caroline Quinn/PA Wire

 

Robbie Keane says he is grateful for the opportunity to end his international career at home in Dublin but that the game against Oman will be a bitter sweet occasion for him and his loved ones.

“I’m grateful to the manager for calling me a few weeks ago and asking me to play in this game. I’m going to take it all in as much as I can and enjoy it – everything I’ve done – but it will be an emotional night for me and my family.

“Physically, I feel I can go on for another couple of years and I’ll keep on playing as long as I can, but in terms of international football this is the right time for me to go. It’s important to focus on my club career for a couple of years; after that we’ll see what happens.”

Keane expressed his gratitude to everybody who had wished him well during the 18 years of his senior international career and said that they could rest assured that he had always been absolutely dedicated to the cause.

“My dad died and three days later I was on a plane; my son was born and two hours later I left the hospital (to fly home for a game). I think that would suggest that Ireland has a special place in my heart and it always will,” he said. “All I ever wanted to do was be a good team-mate, be as good as I could for the national team and do my best for Ireland.

“I played for a lot of teams, wore a lot of shirts, but it always seemed to be the Irish one that fitted me the best.”

He said that he had enjoyed every minute of it and recalled the excitement that he had felt aged 17 when Mick McCarthy had capped him for the first time. “You lot probably have kids now who are 15, 16 or 17 and I was just a kid when I got the chance to play for Ireland.” But, he said, “the finest moment of my career was when I was given the captain’s armband at 26.

“It changed my perception about how I should talk about things. Up until then I’d always done my talking out on the pitch; I was old school like that but with the armband came responsibilities and that changed me.

“I was always a confident player,” he added, “But if I didn’t have a bit of brashness about me, I don’t think I’d ever have scored 67 goals. But I never imagined that I would get 145 caps.”

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