dual role

Robbie Keane offered 'Boro role under former team-mate Woodgate

The former Ireland striker says a role at the Championship club will not affect his duties on Mick McCarthy’s coaching staff.

ROBBIE KEANE HAS been offered the assistant manager role at Middlesbrough as the club prepare to announce the appointment of Jonathan Woodgate as their new manager. 

Keane, who is currently on Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland coaching staff, met with Middlesbrough chairman Steve Gibson yesterday and will now consider the offer in the coming days.

Mick McCarthy and Robbie Keane before the game Keane is part of Mick McCarthy's Ireland coaching staff. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

The 38-year-old this morning said a role with the Championship club will not affect his current coaching position with the national team, something he has stressed to McCarthy and the FAI. 

“I’ve been asked, I met them yesterday,” Keane said, speaking at an event at Crumlin Children’s Hospital to mark a year from the start of Euro 2020. 

“They want me to come in as assistant manager. It’s up to me to think about it really. It won’t affect me here, which was key for me. I spoke to Mick about it, told him and I said under no circumstances would I take it if I had to leave here [Ireland role]. 

“He was delighted because he said ‘you’re not f******g leaving here. They were his actual words. So it’s up to me. I love working with Ireland and Mick has been great. 

It’s up to me if I want to go. It has been so busy the last couple of days so I haven’t even spoken to my wife about it or anything. I flew over [to Middlesbrough] yesterday and had a good chat with the chairman. I’ll have a couple of days to think about it.

After hanging up his boots in 2018, Keane — Ireland’s record goalscorer — took his first steps on the coaching ladder when coming on board for McCarthy’s second reign in charge of the Boys in Green.

The Dubliner has made no secret of his desire to become a manager but admitted he was surprised to get a call from former team-mate Woodgate over the weekend. 

“I saw on the news a few weeks ago that he might get the job, but I never thought for one second he would call me,” Keane continued.

“I know what my [coaching] path is but I’m in no rush. Last summer I met Marcello Lippi while I was on holidays, and he told me, ‘Robbie, don’t rush your management career, you have hopefully 40 years of being a manager ahead of it for you, don’t rush it.’ 

Robbie Keane Keane speaking at Crumlin Children's Hospital today. Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

“So I’ve taken his words to heart and now I’ve a big decision to make, but it won’t affect Ireland, that’s for sure. If the FAI or Mick McCarthy had an issue with me considering this job, I’d just have said ‘thanks but no’ to Middlesbrough.” 

Under Tony Pulis, Middlesbrough narrowly missed out on a place in the play-offs last season and Woodgate has been heavily tipped to take over from the Welsh boss following his Riverside departure last month.

Woodgate, 39, had been first-team coach under Pulis and is due to be named as new ‘Boro manager this week, with Keane — who he played alongside at Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur — his primary candidate to come in as number two. 

“It can 100% work,” Keane said of combining the roles. “It’s just up to me if I want to do it or not. It’s all positive, to be honest with you. I’ll just think about it. I absolutely love it [coaching]. Mick has been great, the players have been brilliant. I’m enjoying it and it has worked out the way I wanted it to work out.”

- Originally published at 11.54

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