Dublin (AFP) – Retiring Ireland legend Robbie Keane says he would not have swapped a major club honour for his international career.
The LA Galaxy striker will play for his country for the last time in Wednesday night’s friendly with Oman at Lansdowne Road.
With 67 goals in 145 appearances, Keane is 15th on the all-time international goalscorers list, just one behind German legend Gerd Muller.
The 36-year-old Keane could overtake the man who won three European Cups with Bayern Munich in the 1970s, but he’d never change anything about his international career, that covered 18 years and three major finals.
“No way. No chance,” said Keane.
“I’ll miss everything about playing for Ireland, first and foremost, I’ll miss pulling that green jersey on.
“For me, more than anything, that’s been the highlight of my career.
“I’ve played for many clubs but the Ireland jersey always seemed to fit me the best.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ll miss it all.
“All I can do now is watch from the side and wish the team well.
“It’s going to be a little bit different for me, a bit surreal.”
Over 18 years have passed since Keane made his Ireland debut against the Czech Republic as a raw 17-year-old striker at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Since then he has played for nine clubs including Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham, Liverpool, Celtic and Los Angeles Galaxy.
Although Keane is 13th in the Premier League’s all-time goalscoring charts, with 126 goals, he won just one major trophy in British football, the 2008 League Cup with Tottenham, but has since added three MLS Cups in the United States.
But the international scene was always what mattered most to the Dubliner, often to the annoyance of his club managers.
“I could never understand why people pulled out of games, I could never get my head around that and still to this day can’t,” he said, revealing he rejected requests by club managers to skip international duty.
“One thing about me, I’ve always turned up, I’ve always tried my best.
“Even with injuries, you get injections before games. And that’s just the love for Ireland and that’s the love for the country.”
Oman could become the 37th different country to be on the wrong side of a Keane strike, and he has history on his side with 42 of his 67 goals scored on home soil.