Ireland's record goalscorer to retire from international duty
The entire island of Ireland is so regularly blessed with great athletes. George Best, Rory McIlroy, Carl Frampton, Brian O'Driscoll, etc. seem to contradict an island with a population of just over 4.5million. However, on Wednesday night, another true great among the pantheon of Irish sportsmen will say his goodbyes.
Robbie Keane will put an end to an 18-year international career which has seen trips to three major international tournaments, 145 appearances, 67 goals and numerous awkward half-somersaults. The former Wolves, Inter and Spurs striker was at one time, one of the most sought after young talents in world football.
When Inter Milan stepped in to sign the young Irishman in 2000, Marcello Lippi said that he had a policy of signing young talent and that "Robbie Keane was the best one that I saw". It never quite panned out for Keane in Milan, however he was not to be deterred.
Keane has gone on to carve out an international career that sees him sit atop the international goalscoring charts among active players and sits 13th overall. That's more international goals than Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Wayne Rooney.
His 145 appearances makes him Ireland's most capped ever player. More goals and more games in the green jersey than any other player. A simple set of inarguable statistics that perhaps place him as the Republic's finest ever player.
Robbie Keane: It's been an emotional week. It's been surreal. I've dreaded this day for a long time. It's the right time for me. #COYBIG— FAIreland (@FAIreland) August 29, 2016
A part of the lauded 'Golden Generation' which included the likes of Damien Duff, Shay Given and John O'Shea, Keane still stood out amongst his peers. His three goals at the 2002 world cup electrified a side, which had already seen another Keane (Roy) leave Japan under a cloud. His late equalizer against the Germans stands out as one of his finest hours, even though the ever-humble Keane would probably tell you his favourite goal for Ireland, was his first against Malta.
Shay Given praises Keane:
When the final whistle blows against Oman on Wednesday night. The Green Army will say goodbye to a genuinely outstanding, loyal servant. One who so regularly gave them the time of their lives.
Full text of President Michael D. Higgins' tribute to Robbie Keane:https://t.co/Lw0oer1p94 #RobbieKeane pic.twitter.com/dZEPKOx8MW— President of Ireland (@PresidentIRL) August 25, 2016