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Dublin: 11°C Friday 16 April 2021

Robbie Keane officially retires from professional football

The Dubliner recently agreed to take up a role as part of new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy’s coaching staff.

Robbie Keane has officially hung up his boots.
Robbie Keane has officially hung up his boots.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

Updated at 12.11

IRISH STRIKER ROBBIE Keane has officially announced his retirement from football.

The Dubliner — who recently agreed to take up a role as part of new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy’s coaching staff — enjoyed a glittering career at the top level, representing Leeds, Inter Milan, Tottenham and Liverpool among others.

The 38-year-old also enjoyed a superb career at international level, with 68 goals in 146 appearances making him Ireland’s all-time top goalscorer.

The Tallaght native played for Crumlin United at underage level and was part of the famous Brian Kerr-managed Irish team that triumphed at the U18 European championships team in 1998.

Prior to that success, he signed for Wolves as a teenager in 1996 and promptly debuted for the club’s first team a year later aged 17.

The youngster’s impressive form saw him join then-Premier League side Coventry for £6 million, a British football record for a teenager at the time, in 1999.

12 goals in 31 Premier League appearances led to a £13 million move to Inter Milan a year later, though Keane struggled to get game time for the Italians’ star-studded side and quickly moved back to England, joining Leeds in an initial loan deal, before signing permanently for £12 million in 2001.

However, Keane’s time at the Elland Road outfit proved short-lived, as the debt-ridden club were forced to sell the striker to Tottenham for £7 million in 2002.

It was at the North London club that Keane enjoyed his greatest times at club level, helping them win the League Cup in 2008 and scoring 80 goals in the English top flight over the course of six seasons with Spurs.

This excellent form prompted Liverpool to sign Keane for £19 million ahead of the 2008-09 campaign, though with Fernando Torres already established as the club’s main striker, manager Rafa Benitez never fully warmed to the Dubliner and often played him out of his preferred position.

Keane was back at Spurs by January, though his second spell at White Hart Lane was less successful than the first, as the Irish international registered 11 Premier League goals in two seasons amid increasingly sporadic game time under Harry Redknapp.

A successful loan move to Celtic followed, with Keane scoring 12 league goals in 16 appearances, though he could not prevent West Ham’s relegation in a subsequent temporary stint at the Hammers.

In 2011, Keane made the move Stateside, linking up with David Beckham among others at LA Galaxy.

The experienced striker proved a revelation for the Major League Soccer club, helping them win three MLS Cups in four years, and securing the league’s MVP award in 2014. During the early part of his Galaxy stint, he also had a short loan spell at Aston Villa, hitting three goals in six Premier League appearances for the side.

In total, he scored 83 league goals in 125 appearances for the American club, while Keane currently ranks 14th on the list of all-time Premier League scorers, having found the net 126 times in 349 appearances.

He finished his career in the Indian Super League with ATK, for whom he registered six goals in nine appearances, and also managed the club briefly after another ex-Tottenham star, Teddy Sheringham, departed from the role.

For Ireland, he will likely go down in most people’s eyes as the greatest striker to have worn the green jersey to date, with his goals helping the Boys in Green get to 2002 World Cup, as well as the 2012 and 2016 Euros.

Soccer - Pre Season Friendly - Tottenham Hotspur v Fiorentina - White Hart Lane Keane is 14th on the list of the Premier League's all-time record goalscorers. Source: Matthew Impey

Keane announced his retirement from football via a statement this morning, as he prepares to form part of Mick McCarthy’s new coaching set-up with Ireland.

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“Today, after 23 wonderful years, I am formally announcing my retirement as a professional footballer,” he said.

“From Crumlin United around the world to the likes of Milan, London and Los Angeles, I could never have imagined the path my football life would take. It has exceeded all the hopes I had as a football-mad boy growing up in Dublin.

“Leaving home at 15 years of age to pursue my professional career in England seems a lifetime ago now. I was a street footballer full of hope armed with huge ambitions and a determination to succeed. All I needed was that one chance.

“I would like to pay a special thanks to Wolverhampton Wanderers for believing in me and giving me that chance when I made my professional debut in 1997, at the age of 17, against Norwich City. I will never forget that day, and was fortunate enough to score both goals in a 2-0 win. That feeling of euphoria drove me to the heights I reached during my career.

“From Wolves, my professional career followed a path that took me far and wide, giving my family and I the opportunity to meet and work with so many wonderful people and experience several different countries and cultures.

“I have always wanted to test myself and strive to be the best that I could be, so I embraced new challenges be it at Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United and then possibly the most successful period of my club football career with Tottenham Hotspur. I had the great privilege to represent and captain Tottenham over 238 games. I had many wonderful times there and I will look back on my days at White Hart Lane with great fondness. The club will always hold a special place in my heart.

There were shorter times spent at Glasgow Celtic and Liverpool, two truly iconic global institutions, and then West Ham United, before Los Angeles became our home away from home. We spent five hugely successful and rewarding years, both on and off the field, with LA Galaxy.

“After a spell with Aston Villa, my playing career concluded with an exciting few months with ATK, a club which also gave me my first experience of management.

“Playing and captaining my country has been the highlight of my career. I enjoyed every moment of the most incredible journey with the Ireland team over an 18-year period and as I have said many times before, words cannot express how proud I am to be Irish. I hope I have made the fans proud wearing the green jersey and armband.

“It was always an honour to play for my country. Representing my country in the 2002 FIFA World Cup and two UEFA European Championships Finals are particular memories I will cherish forever.

“I would also like to acknowledge the fans. It was always important for me to have a good connection with the fans of the teams I have played with – and their full support was vital to me, on both good and bad days, and was always greatly appreciated.

“I would like to thank the teammates I have played with and the managers and staff I have worked with. I was honoured to work and learn from you all — you were invaluable to my development as a player.

Republic of Ireland Manager Unveiling - Aviva Stadium Keane will be part of new Ireland boss Mick McCarthy's coaching staff. Source: PA Wire/PA Images

“I would also like to thank my agent and advisers Struan Marshall, Ciarán Medlar and Damien O’Donohoe for all your support to me and my family.

“Thanks to my parents Anne and my late father Robbie Snr, my brother Graham and sisters Natasha and Amy for everything they have given me and who have always helped me throughout with their absolute support and advice. You can never know how much your love and support has meant.

“Finally, I want to thank my wife Claudine and my two sons Robert and Hudson — who are always there for me — for all their love, support and encouragement. I am so incredibly grateful for all you have done for me since you came into my life, for the many sacrifices you have made so that I could pursue my career. Your love and inspiration has motivated me every day across each new adventure we have embraced around the world, and I have no doubt there will be many more to come.

I take great pride in having scored 325 goals in 737 club appearances and 68 goals in 146 international appearances for the Republic of Ireland. But for me, it was about making my family proud and the friendships that this wonderful game has given me. It is difficult to summarise a 23-year career but I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to do something I love every day.

“With the closing of one chapter comes an exciting new adventure. I am incredibly proud, honoured and excited to now be working alongside Mick McCarthy, Terry Connor and the Irish international team over the next number of years. This is a role I have massive passion, energy and enthusiasm for and I hope to use my experiences to contribute towards a bright future in Irish football.

“To all those who believed in me, supported me and picked me up when I needed a hand, you can never know how much that has all meant. It was an honour to represent you.

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

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