Striker Robbie Keane remains “as hungry as ever” and insists he still has plenty of goals left in him as he seeks his final challenge in football.
The 36-year-old, Ireland’s leading scorer with 68 goals, has just ended his contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where during a five-year-spell he became one of the most significant players in Major League Soccer history.
Keane is well travelled, having played for the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Inter Milan, and Celtic, and while he has not ruled out a return to Britain, he is relishing the prospect of starting one last adventure somewhere new.
It is understood clubs in Australia, China, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are all vying for his signature but wherever he ends up, Keane is confident he can still do a job.
“I still feel sharp — I look after myself very well — and I’ve certainly got a lot of goals left in me. I still feel as hungry as ever. I am very open to what comes my way. I look forward to another challenge because I definitely see me having a couple of good years left.
“I want to go somewhere I can have an impact and help the team go forward or help a league grow — basically the same reason I went to the MLS.
“I wouldn’t rule out anything. There would definitely be an interest in the UK.
“I’d never say never but it has to be the right club and the right people involved — an ambitious club who want to get in the Premier League or stay in the Premier League.
“I’m not frightened of a challenge — I haven’t been since I was 16 and left Dublin — and I’m not scared of moving to a different place because everywhere I’ve moved to has never been my home — Ireland is my home.”
Keane’s spell in Italy was a short one — he lasted only six months after the manager who signed him, Marcello Lippi, was sacked — so he had no real time to tackle the language barrier.
So how would he cope if he joined a club in the Chinese Super League, for example?
He added: “Of course the language might be an issue but if you look at the players who have gone there and I don’t imagine they are speaking the language! There is not one choice. Everything is on the table and I’ll see what is the best option for me and the family — which is the most important thing.”
Keane is the first to admit his farewell season, immediately after being named the MLS’ best-ever import with the Galaxy, was not his best.
Injury, plus Euro 2016 involvement with Ireland, meant he was restricted to just 17 appearances, although he still scored 10 goals.
Having turned 36 in July — the same age as Galaxy team-mate Steven Gerrard, who has just announced his retirement — Keane knows his age may be a barrier for some clubs.
“Last season was not a satisfying season for me in terms of being away for a long time with the national team and injuries,” he said.
“But whether you are young or old you have to be judged on what you are doing and I don’t see many people scoring as many goals as I have. If teams don’t want me because of my age it doesn’t bother me, but teams have been calling so it is obviously not an issue for them. Over the years ex-players have said ‘Play as long as you can’. I’m not stupid and when my body is no good I’ll stop but I still feel sharp.
“As with every player it eventually comes to an end, but it’s not there for me. Maybe after these couple of years I’ll plan for the future, but the focus for me is the next 18 months to two years.”
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