Interview: Robbie Keane talks Ireland, coaching and the Ballon d’Or

Ben Blake
Interview: Robbie Keane talks Ireland, coaching and the Ballon d’Or
Interview: Robbie Keane talks Ireland, coaching and the Ballon d’Or

Keane launching the new Xbox One in Dublin this week.

I think we did well. The pitch was shocking to be honest. I wish we had that when we were playing Croatia and Italy at the Euros. We might have had a chance!

The lads played well though. It wasn’t the greatest game to watch and the pitch had something to do with that but overall it was pleasing. The way the lads went about it was good and in any game it’s important you don’t lose. Whether it’s a friendly or not it doesn’t matter as it gives you confidence.

Martin O’Neill now has three months to consider his options. Do you think it is minor adjustments that Ireland need?

We still have the same squad of players to choose from so it’s not like we can go and get whoever we want. Martin will know from these 10 days exactly what he needs and what he feels will be the best way to go forward with the team.

We have a manager who over the years has got his teams up for every game whether it’s Man United or a lesser team. His ability to get players going is incredible.

There are always adjustments in any team and we’re not by any means the finished article so I’m sure Martin will be well aware of what he feels he needs to do.

Did you notice the buzz around the place on Friday nights?

You look at a few months ago with the attendances and the atmosphere around the Kazakhstan game. It was a bit dull. Now all of a sudden with a change of manager and with Roy with him means the change of buzz around is incredible. The players certainly feed off that.

The players looked like they had a lot more freedom on the ball?

I’m a player who likes get it to feet and play. I’m not going to be running in behind or jumping up and winning headers. That’s not my game.

You have to understand as well that the opposition we we’re playing against let us play. They sat back and we had a lot of time on the ball. To be fair when we got forward we did try and link up a couple of times but it was hard because they had 10 men behind the ball as some stages.

When you’re playing against a lesser team like that and they give time to play it breathes confidence into the players and that was certainly the case against Latvia. But then we went to Poland and it’s a different game altogether.

We’re going to have teams we will dominate against and we’ll have teams that will dominate against us. It’s getting that balance right.

You scored international goal number 62 last week. Is there an over reliance on your goalscoring?

My job is to score goals and I don’t know anything different. It doesn’t matter to me as they have relied on me to score goals since I was 17 and they still are so nothing changes.

I’ll continue to score as many as I can. Would we like other players in the team scoring goals from everywhere? Of course we would. We want everybody to be chipping in. McGeady scored last week.

But for me, I don’t feel it at all because I put pressure on myself to score goals.

Do you feel that sometimes you’re not given credit for that record?

The record is there. If you want to give me credit for it, do. If you don’t, I don’t care. It’s there and it’s never going to change.

I think the credit thing is from years ago and people carried it on. We have a tendency to hold onto things in Ireland and look behind instead of looking forward. Every person that comes up to me says ‘what an unbelievable goal record’. Unless one person comes and says something different but no one has come to me.

No matter who you are or what you are there are people who are going to say things but certainly the majority of people are wishing you do well than not.

At club level, LA Galaxy were knocked out of the Western Conference semi-finals but you scored 16 goals, had 11 assists and have been shortlisted for MLS MVP.

What kind of season do you think it has been?

For me personally it was a good season. I only played 22 or 23 games. It means nothing if you don’t win and if I’m being totally honest we didn’t deserve to win it this year. We were consistent enough and it showed in the last game against Real Salt Lake.

They fully deserved to go through and I wish them well. You just have to hold your hands up and accept it. It has been a great few years for us and we won the last two (MLS Cups) but next year I think we need to have a good look at ourselves and get a lot stronger in certain areas.

Credit: Ted S. Warren/AP/Press Association Images

How special would winning MVP be?

To win stuff like this and people appreciating you is always good. Am I thinking about it every second? Not at all. It would be great if I did but usually it goes to the player who scores the most goals.

If it was goals per games and assists then I would win it no problem but over there I think they go more for goals so I’d imagine Mike Magee might do it. He’s a good friend and if he does I’d be delighted for him. He played with me for Galaxy as well.

To be named on the shortlist just goes to show the decent season that I had.

You are hoping to do your coaching badges in the near future?

I am speaking to who organises it in the FAI at the moment and just trying to sort something out for January. Hopefully that will be the case.

It is something I want to go into… just to have the badges. It is not something I want to et into soon as I still have a few years left in me and am about to sign a new contract with the Galaxy.

I want to play as long as I can but having that in the background you never know that you might get an opportunity that you wouldn’t expect. To have them there already in place would be good. I’m looking forward to it anyway even if eventually I don’t want to do it.

Which manager has been the biggest influence in your career?

There have been a few but I’d say Gordon Strachan. When I went from Wolves to Coventry at 19 going straight from Championship into the Premier League. I think he helped me to consistently be the player that I am now.

The way that he was, he gets players up for games. For me going for £6m it was a lot of money and to have a manager like that who believed in your was great for me.

Where do you envisage yourself coaching if and when you do?

I couldn’t tell you. That’s being totally honest. I said it’s about opportunities isn’t it. I don’t know what’s going to happen. When I finish playing I could get a call out of the blue from someone.

That’s how it happens. I’ve got a few friends that are involved in the game and it’s about someone picking up the phone and giving you a chance. If I don’t do these coaching badges then I definitely won’t be getting the calls.

Whether it’s in America or whether it’s in England, I couldn’t tell you. Eventually I would like to be in England.

(And) I’ll always want to come back to Ireland because this is my home.

Would you consider going down the same line as David Beckham with a franchise?

(Laughs) Do you know any millionaires… or billionaires? No, I definitely wouldn’t have a franchise.

Finally, who did you vote for in the Ballon d’Or?

Ronaldo, Messi and… Gareth Bale.

Robbie Keane is pictured at the launch of the most anticipated console of the year; Xbox One. Xbox One brings together the best games, the best multiplayer experiences through Xbox Live and the hottest entertainment offerings in a system built to deliver best-in-class experiences for the future, today and every day after.

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