Former Leeds United striker Robbie Keane insists he will have no regrets over ending his international career after scoring his 68th goals for the Republic of Ireland in his 146th and final appearance.
The 36-year-old was given a rapturous ovation by the crowd at the Aviva Stadium after playing 57 minutes of Wednesday night’s 4-0 friendly victory over Oman and signing off with a goal which saw him draw him level with German great Gerd Muller.
Asked if he had any regrets over his decision, which he conveyed to manager Martin O’Neill and his team-mates after the Euro 2016 finals, Keane said: “No, it’s the right time. You just know when it’s the right time.
“Will I miss it? Of course I will. It’s a big part of my life and my family for 18 years, so of course I will miss it, but I don’t think I’ll sit back and regret it.”
Keane left the stadium knowing he will not pull on the green shirt again as his team-mates turned their attention to Monday’s opening World Cup qualifier against Serbia in Belgrade.
He admitted that fact has not really sunk in yet, and revealed that his thoughts as he left the pitch to be replaced by Wes Hoolahan were largely for his family and in particular, his seven-year-old son Robert.
The LA Galaxy frontman said: “It was more about the family really, what they were feeling more so than me. I knew they would be emotional wrecks, and my seven-year-old lad is crazy about football. “
Robbie Brady opened the scoring with a fine free-kick before Keane volleyed the Republic into a 2-0 lead on the half-hour, and it was Jonathan Walters who finished the job with a double either side of the break.
Manager Martin O’Neill now faces the task of replacing a man who has for so long been Ireland’s talisman, but he is convinced that in Walters and Shane Long he has the wherewithal to do so.
O’Neill said: “If anything if I was Shane Long, I would be thinking, ‘I’d like a part of this. Rather than being a scorer of great goals, I’d like to be a really great goalscorer’.
“I think he should look at that there and think, ‘Yeah, I have got plenty of time. I’m quick, I have got a lot of things about my game’ and get into the penalty box and try to do what Robbie Keane has done all his career.”
Keane scored 10 goals for the Whites in 33 appearances including a League Cup hat-trick against Leicester City.
Have you downloaded the free YEP app available on Android and iphone?