Robbie Keane Q&A: ‘National team has been my second home’

Robbie Keane gives his opinions on...

Taking flak

“Listen, I have come to the realisation over playing for a number of years you can’t please everybody. But, at the same time, the same people after the games shake my hand and either want to get a photograph with me or ask me for an interview or want to speak to me after games. But that’s football. You are going to get criticised sometimes, but all I wanted to do was my best for the country, and I think I have done that. I have got no regrets whatsoever, but the outpouring of messages I received, it’s been incredible to be honest with you, and 67 goals in 145 caps — I think I did okay.”

Confidence and cockiness

“I was always a confident player, but if I wasn’t a confident player and didn’t have that brashness about me, I don’t think I’d have scored 67 goals, so I think there’s a fine line. People misinterpret cockiness and confidence. I was confident coming into the squad that I belonged there, and that was from day one.”

Maturity

“The defining moment in my career, definitely, was when I was given the captain’s armband when I was 26 years of age. It changed my perception of how you deal with things. For me before that, my talking was done on the pitch. I’m a bit old-school like that. I had been told that by previous players, previous managers. But that’s not the reality. Even though you have to do your talking on the pitch, with that there comes responsibilities, and the responsibilities I have had as a captain have changed that.”

The wearing of the green

“I have played for many, many teams, I have put many, many jerseys on, but the Irish one always seems to fit me the best. For me, it was always a comfort blanket, coming back with the national team. It’s been my second home. I’ve had a lot of emotions in terms of my career — when my father died, which was very, very tough for me, about three days later I was on a plane going to play a game; when my son was born, two hours later I left the hospital in LA to come back and play for Ireland. I think that suggests to you Ireland was always a very, very special place in my heart and it will continue to be that for a long, long time.”

Highlights

“Certainly the Germany one at the World Cup will always stand out for me. But I think nothing will ever beat the first goal I scored for Ireland against Malta when we won 5-0 and I scored two. A year and a half before that, I was playing on the streets in Tallaght and here I am on the big stage at Lansdowne Road scoring my first goal in front of the Irish crowd. People like Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton, Gary Kelly and people like that, who you respected as a young kid growing up, and then you’re there with them, you’re playing with them. It was a surreal moment.”

Mick McCarthy

“He gave me the chance. I was a 17-year-old kid. You don’t see that anymore. Most people make their debuts at 22, 23. I was 17 — and he took a chance on me. So he was the first person I called (to say he was retiring), the only person I called, just to thank him. He set the ball rolling. I’ll always be grateful.”

The next 67-goal man for Ireland

“In England, Scotland, Ireland, the next few years are going to be a problem because players like myself, Damien Duff, Richard Dunne, Shay Given — players who broke through young — that is not really happening anymore. There are a lot of players now playing in the Championship and it is going to be hard for them because of the number of foreign signings that clubs have made. So it is going to be very, very difficult for Irish players to go and play in the Premier League and be a starter. That will be a big problem. How you change it, I don’t know. I hope there will be another (67-goal striker for Ireland) but I can’t see it at the moment.”

The final word

“I’m not one of those people who reflect on things until it’s finished, so come Wednesday or Thursday or Friday when that curtain finally closes, I’ll look back and say, ‘You know what? You did okay, Rob’.”


Lifestyle

Carol O’Callaghan continues her round-up of home interior shops in country towns and the outer reaches of our cities, finding more treasure troves which offer something new and a touch of exclusivityMade in Munster: The best interior shops in country towns

When the Irish Examiner broke the news that an ultra-inquisitive deer photobombed newlyweds at Killarney’s Ladies View the story went viral.Wedding of the Week: Time for Australian celebrations for bride and groom photobombed by deer

At the start of the 10th and final episode of Confronting: OJ Simpson, a series which has been downloaded over five million times since launching in June, host Kim Goldman is in tears, talking to her father about how strong he was through the murder of her brother, his son,Ron Goldman.Podcast Corner: Host relives brother’s death in famous case

Thomas McCarthy pays tribute to his late friend — poet and journalist Seán Dunne'Seán Dunne was one of the most loved people I ever knew'

More From The Irish Examiner