Dublin (AFP) – Robbie Keane will make his final appearance for the Republic of Ireland in next week’s friendly against Oman after the country’s record goal scorer announced his imminent retirement from international duty.
LA Galaxy forward Keane was included on Wednesday in Martin O’Neill’s 28-man squad to face Oman and then Serbia in a World Cup qualifier.
But less than an hour later, Keane released a statement revealing he would call it quits after the Oman fixture, opening the way for an emotional farewell in front of Ireland’s fans in Dublin.
The 36-year-old former Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur star has a record 145 senior Ireland caps and a record 67 international goals.
“I have grown up playing for Ireland and look back at the 17-year-old kid making his international debut, taken under the wing of Mick McCarthy and the FAI, and think of the person I am today and realise how playing for Ireland has been such a huge influence in my life,” Keane said.
“My team-mates over the years, the backroom staff, managers, FAI and the fans became my second family. I always looked forward to meeting with the team — it became a home away from home no matter what part of the world I was living in.
“I have so many fantastic memories of days with the Irish team and have made so many friends both on and off the pitch over this time.”
Republic boss O’Neill paid tribute to Keane’s commitment to his country and admitted he would be a big loss.
“Robbie’s appearances and goals for Ireland speak for themselves,” O’Neill said.
“He is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s finest ever players and I do not see his international goal record being beaten for a very long time, if ever.
“It will take us some time to get over his absence.”
Keane, who is to continue his club career with LA Galaxy, will bid an emotional farewell needing one more goal to equal the German great Gerd Mueller’s career tally of 68 goals.
“I had always hoped this day would never come and I will miss putting on the Ireland jersey and walking out to a sea of green,” he said.
“But I am looking forward to the game against Oman and putting on the jersey and singing the national anthem one last time in front of the home crowd at the Aviva.
“It will be an emotional night for me, but I will savour each and every last moment.”
Republic of Ireland squad for friendly against Oman and 2018 World Cup qualifier against Serbia:
Goalkeepers: Darren Randolph (West Ham/ENG), Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday/ENG), David Forde (Portsmouth/ENG)
Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton/ENG), Cyrus Christie (Derby/ENG), Richard Keogh (Derby/ENG), Alex Pearce (Derby/ENG), Paul McShane (Reading/ENG), John O’Shea (Sunderland/ENG), Ciaran Clark (Newcastle/ENG), Marc Wilson (Bournemouth/ENG), Stephen Ward (Burnley/ENG)
Midfielders: James McClean (West Brom/ENG), Glenn Whelan (Stoke/ENG), Aiden McGeady (Everton/ENG), James McCarthy (Everton/ENG), Jeff Hendrick (Derby/ENG), Stephen Quinn (Reading/ENG), David Meyler (Hull/ENG), Harry Arter (Bournemouth/ENG), Eunan O’Kane (Bournemouth/ENG), Callum O’Dowda (Bristol City/ENG), Robbie Brady (Norwich/ENG), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich/ENG)
Forwards: Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy/USA), Shane Long (Southampton/ENG), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich/ENG), Jonathan Walters (Stoke/ENG).
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