Robbie Keane admits it took him very little time to decide against following Damien Duff and Shay Given in to international retirement this summer.
Like Duff and Given, Keane has been part of the upholstery of the Republic of Ireland team for the best part of a decade and a half.
A disappointing European Championship campaign proved to be the tipping point for Given and Duff, who informed Trapattoni after the tournament that they wished to end their international careers after gaining 125 and 100 caps respectively.
Keane, who will move within four caps of Given’s record when he captains the Republic in Kazakhstan tomorrow evening, had also been tipped to throw in the towel having just turned 32.
The Los Angeles Galaxy striker admits the thought entered his mind, but it left very soon after.
“Of course I thought about it (retirement),” Keane said.
“When Damien and Shay retired it was a sad day for Irish football, because they have been two of the best players this country has ever seen.
“I considered it, but the thought of never putting on a green shirt again was quite difficult to come around to.
“Even now I am dreading that day. I will play as long as I can and as long as I am fit and healthy and as long as the manager picks me.”
Keane’s continued commitment, and that of fellow veteran Richard Dunne, was a huge boost to head coach Giovanni Trapattoni, whose leadership came under fire after the country’s dismal Euro 2012 campaign where they lost all three games.
In what has been seen by some as a sign of desperation, the Italian has claimed he could tempt the duo out of retirement to help the country qualify for Brazil 2014.
Keane admits not having the influential duo around is an unusual experience, and backed calls for them to return to the fold.
“Of course it’s strange not having them around,” Keane said.
“Those two have been around for so long. Me and Damien came in at the same time and Shay came in the year before us.
“When you are used to seeing those faces there, and knowing you will never see them in the squad again it is a bit strange.
“But hopefully he will speak to them and if they change their mind then great because they are sadly missed.”
Trapattoni has been uncharacteristically bold by handing Wigan midfielder James McCarthy his first competitive start in tomorrow’s World Cup qualifier, although he has resisted calls to start Sunderland’s James McClean on the left wing.
Tomorrow evening’s game in the 30,000-seater Astana Arena is the perfect opportunity for Trapattoni to consign his Euro 2012 campaign to history.
The squad could have done without the 3,000-mile trip to the former Soviet republic, which is nearer to Pyongyang than it is to Dublin, but Kazakhstan have only won twice in their last two World Cup qualifying campaigns – both times against Andorra – and their group also contains Germany, Sweden and Austria.
Murmurings of discontent with Trapattoni’s management style resurfaced this week when it emerged that Darron Gibson had rejected a call-up as he was still smarting from being snubbed at Euro 2012, where he watched every minute of action from the bench.
But Keane, who is beginning his fifth World Cup qualifying campaign with the Republic, insists spirits are high within the squad.
“I’m raring to go and certainly from what I’ve seen in training this week, the younger players that have come in are too,” he said.
“Everyone seems to have that hunger.
“It’s important that everyone forgets about the Euros.
“We have a new campaign now. We have to put what happened as far behind us as we can and start this campaign off with a win.”