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It's a quarter of a century since a promising teenage Forest midfielder made his Ireland debut

22 May 1991 is where it all began at international level for an Irish rookie who would go on to become a legend.

Roy Keane (centre) lines up before the game against Chile.
Roy Keane (centre) lines up before the game against Chile.
Image: INPHO

TODAY MARKS THE 25th anniversary of Roy Keane’s debut for Ireland at senior level.

Jack Charlton chose to blood the 19-year-old Nottingham Forest player in an end-of-season friendly at Lansdowne Road against Chile, with the team coming towards the end of their ultimately unsuccessful Euro 92 qualifying campaign at the time.

The achievement highlighted Keane’s speedy progress at club level, with the Corkonian only having joined Brian Clough’s side from Cobh Ramblers for a reported fee of £47,000 a year previously.

The match itself finished 1-1, with David Kelly’s 81st-minute equaliser cancelling out Fabián Estay’s 64th-minute opener.

Roy Keane A young Roy Keane competes against Chile. Source: INPHO

Reflecting on the fixture in his first autobiography, Keane gave a typically blunt assessment of this landmark game, saying: “I was pleased to be selected but it wasn’t a particularly memorable occasion.”

It took Keane little time to become a key member of the team, as he was named Ireland’s player of the tournament after the 1994 World Cup just three years later.

Source: killianM2/YouTube

Keane would, of course, go on to win several titles with Manchester United, becoming an Irish footballing legend in the process.

His finest moment in a green jersey arguably came in the 1-0 2002 World Cup qualifying victory over Holland, before missing out on the subsequent tournament in controversial fashion.

Keane, in total, scored nine goals in 67 appearances for his country, and is now the team’s assistant manager.

Ireland team v Chile: Gerry Peyton (Bournemouth), Chris Hughton (West Ham), David O’Leary (Arsenal), Kevin Moran (Blackburn Rovers) capt, Steve Staunton (Liverpool), Ray Houghton (Liverpool), Roy Keane (Nottingham Forest), John Sheridan (Sheffield Wednesday), Andy Townsend (Chelsea), Kevin Sheedy (Everton), David Kelly (Leicester City)

Subs: Paul McGrath (Aston Villa) for O’Leary, Alan McLoughlin (Southampton) for Houghton, Tony Cascarino (Aston Villa) for Sheedy.

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Paul Fennessy

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