Not many footballers get to sign off with a script of their own choosing but Robbie Keane called time on an 18-year international career last night by claiming a 68th goal for the Republic of Ireland in the 4-0 rout of Oman at the Aviva Stadium.
He left on his own terms. In his own town.
This was John Wayne riding off into the sunset. Zac Efron getting the girl. All in the one feelgood movie and perfectly in keeping with a man who earns his corn these days with LA Galaxy in Hollywood’s hinterland.
Keane even thickened the plot with a hat-trick of fluffed lines before finally finding the net with the most difficult of the four chances. The finish was exquisite, the chance to witness that somersault celebration one last time all anyone really wanted on the night.
Ireland 2-0 Oman.August 31, 2016
He had taken to the field for the last time in the green jersey whilst holding his infant Hudson and accompanied by his older son, Robert, 7, but it was the one and only time he acknowledged the enormity of the occasion, before his game ended 56 minutes in.
Video tributes from an eclectic fan club that included Pelé from Brazil, Mary Black from San Francisco, and Bono from God knows where were aired before kick-off for a player whose popularity in the Irish camp wasn’t even diluted by a predilection to belt out Westlife tunes.
“Lay off the ballads,” said Bono. “Leave some for the rest of us.”
Keane, playing some warm-up tippy-tappy at the time, never looked up or missed a beat. Nor again 10 minutes into the game, when the crowd rose and chanted his name as one to acknowledge the man who wore the number 10 jersey with such distinction for so long.
Business is business, after all. And Keane had one last calling card to produce.
Professional to the last.
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