Perfect 10: Lansdowne Roar for Robbie

robbie-keane

The Lansdowne Road crowd is planning a tenth minute tribute to Robbie Keane during tonight’s World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands. The Irish captain will become his country’s record caps holder as the Boys in Green aim to stay in contention for Brazil next summer.

The fans’ group YBIG are behind the move to have the Aviva Stadium ring out to the strains of “Keano” when the match-clock strikes ten – the number worn by Ireland’s top goal scorer of all time. There are also plans for a screen display.

Robbie+Keane+Republic+Ireland+v+Scotland+Carling+C2UvnrmsZ6blIt’s a special night for Ireland’s skipper as he picks up his 126th cap and the 32-year-old has no intention of quitting any time soon. This week Keane said he has another five or six years left in him.

When the Tallaghtman does finally hangs up his boots, history will judge Robbie Keane in the greatest light.

He’s scored 56 goals and counting for his country making him the all-time top scorer. The boy who started with Crumlin United is at No.11 in the Premier League’s top marksmen. Keane notched an incredible 125 goals in his time in England’s top flight with total career strikes currently standing at 244, including the two he netted in last week’s win over Georgia. 

He’s also the top international scorer in Britain and Ireland surpassing the likes of Bobby Charlton. An U18 European Championship winner, scorer of three goals at World Cup 2002 – the only man apart from Ronaldo to beat Oliver Kahn, 11 years ago this week – wherever Keane has gone, he has got the goals.  He was recently acclaimed by his LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena as the best player in MLS soccer and Giovanni Trapattoni has attributed Keane’s move to America as giving him a new lease of life.

It’s a mystery how Keane can polarise some sections of the Irish support. We’ll only realise what we had when he’s gone form the international set-up.

Criticised for his performances at Euro 2012, Keane is hardly alone in playing below par. People called for his head immediately after the finals saying he no longer had anything to offer, yet Ireland would not have qualified were it not for Keane’s return of seven goals.

It’s astonishing that some Ireland fans accuse Keane of being driven by ego. Throughout his career, he risked being labelled a journeyman with the amount of transfers he was involved in but Keane chose to move rather than rot on the bench. This led to unfair charges of chasing money rather than match action although he was recently revealed as the 15th richest footballer in the world.

It’s true, for some, Robbie is a love-hate figure of the Irish national team. Loved because he’s our captain, our record goal-scorer, and a genuinely decent skin, but hated for his histrionics on the football pitch, his flailing arms, and sometimes glaring misses.

The transfer history of Tallaghtfornia’s finest has been well documented. During the final days of his second Spurs stint, contrasting statements on his pay demands clouded many people’s judgement of Keane. He was accused of seeking an increase in his wages of roughly €75,000 a week, and branded greedy and unworthy as a result. The player himself rubbished the claims.

5094380916_e3d7e28dd9_zOne Irish paper led with the headline ‘Sorry Robbie, You’re Just Not Worth It.’ The media has form when it comes to pillorying the Irish skipper, ever since it decided to castigate him for a night on the Dublin tiles prior to a crucial qualifier against France. (Never mind that the time-off had been sanctioned by the team manager, Brian Kerr or, not least, that Keane was at home in his native city.)

He’s even been accused of chasing international caps, a point he is quick to shoot down.

“If people want to criticise me for playing for my country then I don’t think I’ve got the problem,” he said this week.

At 32, Keane’s not getting any younger and it’s clear he no longer has the pace he once had but as his form for LA Galaxy and two goal haul against Georgia has shown, the cartwheeling boy from Tallaght still knows how to find the net.

On ten minutes tonight, Lansdowne Road will find it’s voice and rise to acclaim one of our greatest and he’s not finished yet.

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