From the publishers of THE HINDU
VOL.32 :: NO.47 :: Nov. 21, 2009
Robbie Keane’s career so far may have been defined by a number of high-profile transfers, but in his second spell at Tottenham he may finally be finding a place to call home.
The 29-year-old’s early years included move after move as a reported total of over GPB70million was spent by Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds, Liverpool and Spurs (twice) on acquiring his services since he signed as a trainee for Wolves at the age of 15.
But with Keane now back at the club where he has spent the most amount of time, played the most games and scored the highest number of goals, the Irishman will be hoping to finally put down some roots.
The striker’s first major decision of his footballing career came as a teenager when he opted for English midlands side Wolves ahead of Liverpool — the team he supported as a boy.
It was a pragmatic choice that placed the importance of first-team prospects over sentimentality, and it proved to be a wise one as the youngster made his debut in 1997 aged 17 against Norwich City — a game in which he scored twice.
Keane subsequently topped the goal-scoring chart for his first club the following season with a return of 16 goals from 39 games.
While Keane was already dazzling fans on the domestic front, 1998 was also a very important year for his international career. He won the UEFA under-18 European Championship, made his debut for the senior side in March against the Czech Republic and scored his first goal in October of the same year against Malta.
Coventry broke the then-British transfer record for a teenager to sign the Dublin-born forward in 1999 and following a successful season in the English Premier League, where Keane scored 12 goals in 34 games, current Italy national boss Marcelo Lippi paid GBP20million to take him to the San Siro and Inter Milan.
But, after only six appearances for the club and following Lippi’s sacking, Keane returned to England on loan with Leeds United.
He initially impressed, enough in fact for David O’Leary to pay GBP12million to secure his services on a permanent basis, but in his second season he found games and goals hard to come by.
And, as financial strife began to take hold, Leeds were forced to sell off their most valuable assets, and Keane was part of the mass exodus from the cash-strapped club.
Spurs boss Glenn Hoddle was the next manager to take a gamble on the Dubliner as he believed Keane could make the London club his “spiritual home”.
The former England boss was proved right immediately as Keane endeared himself to the Tottenham faithful with his effort, talent and finishing.
Following a period out of the Tottenham side during Martin Jol’s reign, Keane re-discovered his goal-scoring touch and helped the side finish fifth in successive EPL campaigns.
He then formed a formidable partnership with Dimitar Berbatov and won the Carling Cup.
But when Liverpool declared their interest in Keane the following summer, his head was immediately turned. He finally made his dream move and could barely conceal his joy at the prospect of playing for the club he supported as a boy.
He was given the iconic number seven shirt once worn by Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish. But an injury to Fernando Torres meant that Keane often had to cut a lone figure up front.
It was a task that proved difficult for the diminutive striker and the Kop faithful soon began pointing to his lack of goals.
Keane’s Liverpool spell was ended in January when Harry Redknapp took him back to London as he sought to turn around Tottenham’s season.
He immediately made Keane his captain in Ledley King’s absence and reaped the benefits with a series of commanding performances.
Keane currently stands 10th in the list of all-time leading goal-scorers in the EPL and could well move up into eighth before the current season ends.
In June 2008 he married his long-time girlfriend, former Miss Ireland contestant Claudine Palmer, in Ballybrack, South Dublin. The couple had their first child in May 2009, a boy named Robert Ronan Keane.
Keane has been spotted behind the wheel of a BMW X5 4.81SE.
Name: Robbie Keane
Ireland Caps: 93
Ireland Goals: 40
Ireland Debut: Czech Republic v Ireland 25/03/1998
Moment to remember:
Winning the Carling Cup with Tottenham in February 2008, although for the proud Irishman becoming the country’s leading goalscorer in 2004 and being made captain in 2006 must come close.
Moment to forget:
Missing out on a UEFA Champions League place in May 2006 on the last day of the season after being one of 10 Tottenham players to be struck down with an illness was a notable low point. Although Keane played in the match, defeat in the London derby to West Ham meant arch-rivals Arsenal piped Spurs to fourth spot in the EPL.
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