SO it was a pre-match press conference for the Ireland skipper and then off into the city centre for a meet and greet with the president of the United States of America — not quite a normal day in the life of Robbie Keane, then.
“A bit surreal,” he agreed with a grin, as he contemplated his urgent schedule at lunchtime yesterday.
Much less certain is Keane’s longer-term future as he arrives at the end of a miserable season for first Spurs and then West Ham with no clarity about where he’ll be playing next time around.
What he is clear about, however, is where he won’t be playing, Keane saying that won’t be staying at Upton Park and that neither has he plans to go to be another Championship side.
He also ruled out the United States and said he’d not given any particular thought to Europe.
“I want to stay in the Premiership for the next couple of years,” he declared.
In that context, the player’s name has been linked with newly-promoted QPR but Keane said that there has been no contact so far between the club and his agent.
“Unfortunately as a player, sometimes your future isn’t in your hands,” he said. “I’m a Tottenham player and who knows what’s going to happen but I’m sure they’re going to try get a bit of money for me. It has been a frustrating couple of years. I went to Celtic and did well but this year is one I want to try and forget. We’ll see what lies ahead in the summer. For now, I’ll just concentrate on these games for Ireland. It’s been a frustrating season for me but it’s in the past now. I’ll take a break away after these games and switch off for a few weeks.”
Of course, it’s not the first time in his career that Ireland’s all-time record-scorer has arrived at season’s end with speculation rampant about where he might turn up next.
“It’s one of those things and I’ve had it most of my career,” he conceded. “It doesn’t affect me. It doesn’t bother me. It’s something you can’t worry about. Sometimes, being a professional footballer, you don’t have a stable home. You move here, there and everywhere and that’s been the case for me.”
Acknowledging he has only “a couple of years” left in his playing career, Keane said his priorities have to be different.
“It depends on where you go, but the chances of winning the Premiership for me are obviously fairly slim at this stage,” he said. “Now, it’s about enjoying my football, playing as much as I can, and going to a team where I can help the younger players that are coming through. I’m at the stage where I want to enjoy football.”
Returning to more immediate goals, Keane observed that this week’s Carling Nations Cup games will be useful for a player who has had so much of season spoiled by a combination of non-selection and injury.
“I’ll definitely benefit from these two games,” he said. “I probably won’t play the full 90 against Northern Ireland — maybe 45 minutes, and on Sunday, longer against Scotland. Then, Saturday, longer.”
And behind it all is the realisation that there’s still one huge competitive game to come and that Keane can still end his season of discontent on a high. “Hopefully, I’ll help this team to get three points against Macedonia,” he smiled. “Yeah, that’d be nice.”
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