Republic of Ireland v Oman: Farewell to Robbie Keane

Keane celebrates scoring for Republic of Ireland against Latvia in the Aviva Stadium
Carl Toner

Republic of Ireland's all-time leading goal scorer, Robbie Keane is set to play his final international game tonight after a fantastic 18 year career, as Martin O'Neill's side face Oman in a friendly game at the Aviva Stadium.

Keane, will hope to add to his tally of 67 international goals in his 146th and final appearance.

The LA Galaxy striker's emotional farewell will be the main focus point of this evening's encounter, but Ireland will be keen to use the match as preparation for their World Cup Qualifier against Serbia next Monday.

Ex-Celtic manager O'Neill, who led Ireland to the last-16 of the European Championships this summer believes Keane "has been a terrific player" and will be "certainly hard to replace".

Looking back on Keane’s career, O’Neill said: “The only disappointment I would’ve had that I didn’t have a 27-year-old Robbie Keane rather than a 33-year-old, at the time, I think he was.

“He’s been terrific, absolutely terrific player, and certainly be hard to replace.

“He would talk about being a proper captain where he was encouraging to the younger lads. He was always the first one up when we would score a goal, and he was a major part of it.

“The most important thing is that he stays in the game in some capacity.”

With his goal record seemingly impossible to beat, we take a look back at one of his most memorable goals. One of which is his goal against Germany in the 2002 World Cup in Japan, Keane  ran on to substitute Niall Quinn's flick-on, he smashed the ball past goalkeeper Oliver Khan to claim a famous draw. Keane said: "The Germany one at the World Cup will always stand out for me."

Keane made his Ireland debut against Czech Republic on March 25, 1998; which they lost 2-1.

Manager Mick McCarthy handed a then 17-year-old Keane his debut in a friendly in Olomouc, in the process fulfilling a childhood dream. Keane said: "I was confident coming into the squad that I belonged there, and that was from day one. But did I ever imagine that I was going to win 145 caps?"

Just more than half a year later, Keane scored the first of his national record 67 goals for Ireland, in a 5-0 win over Malta, The 18-year old scored twice in a Euro 2000 qualifier against Malta in Dublin. He said: "Nothing will ever beat the first goal you scored for Ireland against Malta when we won 5-0 and I scored two. A year and a half before that, I was playing on the streets in Tallaght and here I am on the big stage at Lansdowne Road scoring my first goal in front of the Irish crowd. People like Niall Quinn and Steve Staunton, Gary Kelly and people like that who you respected as a young kid growing up, and then you're there with them, you're playing with them. It was a surreal moment."

Keane has thanked Ireland fans for their "terrific support" through his 18 year international career

Fellow striker Jonathan Walters, who along with the likes of Shane Long and Daryl Murphy will now need to step up to the mark to fill Keane's void, describes how good the Dublin-born striker is, and what it has been like to play along side him.

Walters said: "The best quality of any striker is putting the ball in the back of the net, and he does it better than most. At club level, international level, his record speaks for itself.

 "It's been a pleasure to play with him and watch as well growing up."- John Walters on Robbie Keane

"He came in from such a young age and he's had such a long time on the international stage, and even at Premier League level and every level he has been at, he's been exceptional.

"There's not much more you can say, really. As a striker, the best quality is putting it in the back of the net and he does it exceptionally well.

"He's one of those players in the box, he will find space. His movement and his touch are second to none and he will always get a finish off, a strike off at goal.

"He seems to bamboozle defenders. He has that first touch away from them and his second touch is in the back of the net. He has done it on so many occasions.

"It's been a pleasure to play with him and watch as well growing up."

Remember Merlin's Premier League Stickers? Here's how Robbie Keane appeared on the collectible stickers when he played for Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.

Topp's Collectibles: Keane pictured in 2001 for Leeds United, and 2007 for Tottenham Hotspur



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