Keane keeps focus on team goals

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Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Robbie Keane modestly shrugged off his goalscoring feats after establishing himself as the top marksman in European Championship qualifying history.

The 34-year-old Republic of Ireland skipper helped himself to a hat-trick with a clinical display of finishing in Saturday evening’s 7-0 demolition of Gibraltar to take his tally in European qualifiers to 21, one more than Turkey’s Hakan Sukur.

In the process, he increased his record career total for Ireland to 65, just three fewer than West Germany legend Gerd Muller and six behind Miroslav Klose, who recently announced his retirement from international football.

But Keane, who famously rarely remembers details of the games in which he has played, later insisted personal milestones were not at the forefront of his mind.

Asked if he was aware of the company he is keeping, he said: “I get messages from people telling me – my brother tells me all the time.

“He texts me and my mates text me, but I genuinely couldn’t tell you who’s even close to me on it. That’s being honest. I know Klose – that’s as far as I know.

“Honestly, I don’t really think about it. Like I said, I get messages from people, but personally I don’t really think about it.

“I never think about what’s happened before, I never think about what’s going to happen in the future because I can’t predict what’s going to happen in the future.

“The past is the past. I scored those goals, but I’m so focused on what I’m doing now that I’m not really interested in anybody else, to be honest.”

Keane made his senior international debut as a 17-year-old against the Czech Republic in March 1998, and scored for the first time in a green shirt against Malta in the October of the same year.

Former strike-partner Niall Quinn, whose then record of 21 goals he surpassed a decade ago to the day on Monday, knew from those early days that the Republic had a real talent on their hands, but the Los Angeles Galaxy hitman’s record is little short of phenomenal.

Keane, who has nevertheless attracted criticism for his performances at times in recent years, is the nation’s most-capped player with his latest hat-trick marking a 136th appearance, and he has insisted he will keep on turning up for as long as he is wanted and feels able to contribute.

Defender John O’Shea has little doubt how important the Dubliner remains to his country.

O’Shea said: “People will obviously crib because they are desperate to knock Robbie as soon as they can, but believe me he is an absolute legend, purely because of his goalscoring, his finishing.

“He still has to put those chances away, in the right place at the right time. He’s a special, special player and still will be for years to come.”

In the short term, the focus for both men is a trip to Gelsenkirchen and Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifier against World champions Germany, who slipped to a shock 2-0 defeat in Poland as Ireland were making merry against Gibraltar.

Keane said: “It’s a tough game, completely different. Obviously the opposition it’s going to be a tough test.

“Before this game [Gibraltar], our main aim was to get six points going into the Germany game and we’ve done that, so we’re going into the Germany game with a lot of confidence.

“Make no mistake, we can go there and get something out of that game, there’s no question about that.”

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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