ANDY KEOGH WILL always have his doubters, but speaking to The42, the Irish striker says self-belief has never been a problem for him.
“There’s never a lack of confidence. People think you lack confidence when you’re not scoring but you need to have confidence in yourself — football is a cut-throat business.”
Keogh, who was a squad regular under former Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, is not in the plans of current manager Martin O’Neill despite being in the best goalscoring form of his professional career. The 29-year-old recently scored in eight consecutive A-League matches, a new record for the Australian league.
“It’s always nice to be acknowledged for individual achievements but I put it down to my teammates, and being in the right place at the right time,” says Keogh.
The Dubliner has won 30 caps for Ireland, but was unaware of the record until it he was highlighted to him when he was one game away from equaling it against Newcastle Jets.
It’s an achievement that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his former international teammates who sent the former Wolves striker congratulatory messages but crucially for Keogh, none were forthcoming from the Ireland manager or the FAI.
Keogh, who scored the first goal of the Trapattoni era to salvage a draw against Serbia in Croke Park, equates the standard of football in Australia to England’s second tier.
“It’s definitely better than I thought; it would be similar to the Championship. The teams would be able to compete in a one-off game on their day, once they had their best players on the pitch. A-League teams have smaller squads and have to contend with a salary cap.”
The Irish striker was at the centre of a salary cap controversy himself last season when it was discovered that Perth Glory were not fully disclosing all of his payments to the league, which included payments to his family, something the Irishman was not made aware of at the time.
The Glory were then thrown out of the league’s play-offs; soon afterwards Keogh moved to Thailand for a short stint before returning back to his former club earlier this year.
If Keogh’s first goal for Ireland kicked off Trapattoni’s reign, his only other goal for his country came in the match which signified it was coming to an end, when he scored the consolation goal in Ireland’s demoralising 6-1 home defeat to Germany in a World Cup qualifier.
“Some people have questioned my inclusion before. I played on the wing a lot, that’s more of a filling position [for me]. It’s good to be versatile. I would prefer to be up front.”
The former Leeds United player wasn’t part of Ireland’s disappointing Euro 2012 campaign in Poland but he was on the stand-by list.
“Being on the stand-by list, it’s all about conditioning. Make sure you’re ready if you’re called upon. I was disappointed not to be there, I would have loved to have been involved.”
The striker isn’t anticipating a call-up to the Euros this summer despite his goalscoring exploits. “Nobody has been in touch and I’m not expecting them to be either. I would love to show what I could do in one of the training camps. I believe I’m well able to compete with some of the other players in the squad.”
Keogh is enjoying life in Australia, having spent spells with Scunthorpe United, Millwall and Wolves among other clubs in his career, citing the good weather and healthy lifestyle as one of the attractive qualities of living down under.
Having scored 12 goals from 27 appearances last season, and 10 from 14 matches this campaign, it appears the move to Australia has worked out well for Keogh, something that hasn’t always happened in his career.
“Some [moves] have worked out, some didn’t. I don’t regret anything, I use it all as experience. I’m enjoying my football at the moment, I would like to go on and win the championship this season. Football can be funny – opportunities can come along at any stage.”
Perth Glory take on Manchester City’s sister club Melbourne City on Sunday in the elimination finals with the hope of achieving a place in next week’s semi-finals.
Time may be running out on Keogh’s international career — he will turn 30 next month — but he’s in the best form of his career in Australia and as determined as ever not to give up.