©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Robbie: England rematch should have happened 'years and years ago'

Ireland skipper Robbie Keane hopes tomorrow’s friendly can breathe new life into the footballing rivalry between the neighbours.

ROBBIE KEANE DOESN’T feel that Ireland defeating England at Wembley tomorrow would be an upset, as he finally gets to play a fixture he has waited his career for.

The Irish captain was in Lansdowne Road for the infamous abandoned match in 1995, which was the last time the two countries met, and feels the game should have taken place much sooner to “put it all to bed”.

Keane does fancy Ireland’s chances of getting a result tomorrow.

“I wouldn’t say it would be a massive upset. We’re coming here, thinking we can win the game. I know it’s a friendly but you want to win every game you’re involved in. We’re capable of coming here and winning. If people see it as an upset, so be it.

It means a hell of a lot. I was at the game when I was 14, we all know what happened then. I was a kid in the stands. I didn’t think at this stage we’d have a chance to play England. I think this is a bit long coming. I think it should have happened a good few years ago. For whatever reason, it didn’t happen.

I was behind the goal, to the left. Everything happened, obviously all the riots started. I was swiftly moved out by my brother and uncle at the time. Certainly that was the first time I’d seen anything like that. I used to go to all the Irish games. It wasn’t nice to see but it’s happened and hopefully there won’t be a repeat of that ever again.

“I think now the countries get on well. Whatever happened years and years ago, that’s hopefully in the past. Me personally, I think it should have happened years and years ago but it didn’t. Hopefully after this now, it’ll be good and we certainly have a rivalry for a good few years to come. Hopefully it’s all done in a good way.”

(©INPHO/Donall Farmer)

Keane also dismissed worries about any political chanting.

“Listen, it happens in all games. As long as it’s friendly and done in the right manner, we certainly don’t want anybody to cross that line and don’t want a repeat of what happened a long time ago. We’ve been really lucky since I’ve been in the team. Irish fans have behaved themselves very well. I’ve never seen any problems and I don’t think there will be tomorrow. We have to move on from what happened a long time ago. This is a rivalry and hopefully after the game we’re all talking about what a good game it was.

Hopefully this will be the start of an even bigger rivalry. As I mentioned before, hopefully we can play on a regular basis.

For all the rivalry of the fixture, Keane did express that it’s important the Irish players don’t over-exert themselves ahead of the important World Cup qualifier at home to the Faroe Islands on Friday week.

“I think the players have a duty to control themselves. It’s a big game, a rivalry, bragging rights between a lot of players, a lot of players are friendly with each other. We’ve got a bigger game against the Faroes, and that will certainly be in the back of our minds.”

Long and Keane to lead the line for Ireland against England

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