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Dublin: 12°C Friday 14 May 2021

'A year-and-a-half before that, I was playing on the streets of Tallaght' - Keane picks favourite goal

The country’s record goalscorer lines out for the last time later this week.

Robbie Keane celebrates his first goal 14/10/1998 Keane (with Roy Kane and Gary Breen in the background) celebrates scoring his first of 67 goals for Ireland back in Octrober 1998. Source: Patrick Bolger/INPHO

ROBBIE KEANE HAS given Irish fans more unforgettable moments than most.

The legendary striker, who hangs up his international boots after Wednesday’s friendly with Oman at Lansdowne Road, was asked which of his 145 senior caps stand out most during a press conference in Dublin today.

As you may have expected, Keane mentioned his injury-time strike against Germany in the 2002 World Cup, as well as the very first of his 67 goals — in a Euro 2000 qualifier at home to Malta back in 1998.

“Nothing will ever beat the first goal I scored for Ireland,” he said. “A year-and-a-half before that, I was playing on the streets in Tallaght. Then here I am on the big stage of Lansdowne Road scoring my first goal in front of the Irish crowd.

“You respected people like Niall Quinn, Steve Staunton, Gary Kelly growing up, and then you’re playing with them. It was a surreal moment.”

Source: National Sports Campus/YouTube

The 36-year-old also thanked Martin O’Neill for allowing him the chance to say farewell to his loyal supporters in his hometown.

“I’m just very grateful to be given the opportunity to say goodbye to the fans,” he added. “Over the years, the true fans have been fantastic to me. I’ve had a great career and they have seen me to the good times and the bad times. To have them all there will be fantastic.

“I’m grateful to the manager for giving me the call a few weeks ago to ask me to play in this game. After the Euros, I thought that was it.

“For everyone that was there, it’s hard when you lose a game and to see my son Robert in the crowd crying his eyes out at seven years of age, was a moment for me. I was exactly like that when I was a kid.

“To go out and say thank you to the fans will be a special moment for me and it’s certainly something that I will never forget. I’m going to take it in as much as I can and enjoy everything.

As a person all I ever wanted to do was be a good team-mate, be a good player for the national team and be the best I can be for Ireland.”

Keane has had his fair share of critics down through the years but accepts that’s part-and-parcel of the game.

“I’ve come to a realisation from playing over 18 years that you can’t please everybody at times. The same people will shake my hand after the game or ask me for a photo or an interview, but that’s football.

“You’re going to get criticised sometimes but all I ever wanted to do was my best for the country and I think I’ve done that. I’ve got no regrets whatsoever and the outpour of messages has been incredible.”

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Ben Blake

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