Irish Pride: Robbie Keane inspires victory against Faroe Islands with a hat trick and record to boot
As a banner hanged from the box seats of the Aviva Stadium, the entire 19,000 fans packed into the Dublin Ireland venue prepared to witness history for their national team. The banner read, “Well Done Daddy on your record 126th cap.”
A tribute from his son, Robert Ronan Keane Jr., it was to mark what would become a historic day for Irish captain Robbie Keane, a player that has deserved a moment such as this for much of his career.
Keane has proven to be an ultimate journeyman of the game. His longest amount of time with any one club was a combined seven years with Tottenham Hotspur. However, aside from that, he has played for or on loan with, Wolverhamton Wanderers, Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Liverpool, Celtic, West Ham, Aston Villa and the Los Angeles Galaxy.
For a player at the age of 33 it is hard to imagine that his average time with a club, outside of his seven years with Tottenham, only amounts to 35 matches. In almost any league in the world, that is barely a single season.
There is no doubt that his greatest moments in club memory are with Tottenham where he won the 2007-08 League Cup and was the club’s player of the year on three separate occasions as well as being the club captain. However, his most silverware laden time period with a club is with his current side, the Los Angeles Galaxy where he has won an MLS Supporters Shield and two back to back MLS Cup Titles.
Despite his frustrating club career, where he has spent more time not being wanted than being wanted, Keane has been the inspiration to Ireland’s National team. He is the boy upon the entire nation have rested their hopes of a World Cup appearance and Cinderella championship since he was part of the Irish under-19’s that won the 1998 UEFA European U19 Football Championship.
Having gotten his country so close to a World Cup appearance in 2010, only to have a hand ball assisted goal from France keep them from their dream, there was hope that there was at least one more chance for the nation before the end of Keane’s era.
The country battled to qualify for the 2012 UEFA European Championships only to put on a shockingly disappointing performance, but proved that they still had more to offer. This go around they sit joint second in Group C, but are left out of the playoff places due to goal difference.
Once again Robbie Keane has managed to instill hope that Ireland still have the chance to reach the World Cup. As he led the Irishmen onto the pitch against the Faroe Islands Saturday afternoon, there was only one way the match had to go, Ireland had to win and Keane had to be a part of it.
A part of it, he was. Keane broke the deadlock only four and a half minutes into the match as the Aviva erupted. It would be a trying rest of the first half, but Keane would again come to call ten minutes into the second half to see the Irishmen go two goals up and he completed his memorable hat trick with a third goal in the 81st minute.
His hat trick was a just reward for the efforts and love he has given his nation for all of his playing career. A record 126 appearances to go along with his already claimed scoring record for the nation currently at 59 goals.
There is still a chance that Keane can lead his nation to the World Cup as the Aviva hosts Group C stragglers Sweden on September 7, 2013 and then Ireland travel to second place Austria on September 10th.
If Keane can lead his nation to victory in both or at least one of those matches their chances of reaching the playoffs are great, but they still have a massive showdown with Group leaders, Germany in early October as well as a must win against Kazakhstan several days later. The is the possibility that it could all come down to their final match of the group with another small European nation.
The legacy of Robbie Keane could very well rest on the next four international matches he participates in. With a hungry corps of players such as Aiden McGeady, Wesley Hoolahan, James McCarthy, Shane Long, Seamus Coleman and Jonathan Walters there is belief that the Irish can be victorious in any one-off match and they will ride their underdog spirit all the way to end.
Qualification for the 2014 World Cup would be just rewards for Keane and his nation as they have inspired one another through so much of his career and it would be great to see him finally be able to achieve one of his lifelong dreams as he nears the end of his career.