Soccer superstar David Beckham has paid tribute to Irish legend Robbie Keane, who announced his international retirement earlier this week
Keane’s retirement follows a glittering career that saw him lead the line for his country in three major tournaments and take part in some of Ireland’s most famous victories – including the dramatic win over Holland in 2001.
Keane is Ireland’s greatest ever goal scorer with 67 goals in 145 games for his country. He eclipsed the tally of previous top scorer Niall Quinn when he was just 24 years old.
His record puts him not just at the top of Ireland’s list, but also makes him one of the great international strikers, comparable to the greats of any country in the world. He is 5th on the all-time list of European goal scorers.
While Keane has retired from international football, American fans can still see him turn out in the MLS for LA Galaxy, where he has played for the past five years.
Former England captain David Beckham, a onetime Galaxy team mate of Keane’s, was full of praise for the Irish star.
Beckham posted the following message on his Instagram page: “145 caps , 67 goals .. Passion and love for the game especially when playing for his country .. Doesn’t matter where he plays he scores goals.. Sad to see Keano retiring from Ireland but this last game wed should be a huge celebration.. Congrats mate.”
Beckham mentioned the ‘last game on Wednesday’ which will be a friendly against Oman. Not usually one to get particularly excited about but the former Real Madrid and Manchester United man is right – it will be a huge celebration for one of Ireland’s greatest ever sports stars.
Keane’s statement said: “Today, I am announcing my decision to retire from international football following the upcoming game with Oman on 31 August in the Aviva Stadium.
“It has been a wonderful journey for me to have played with the Irish national team for over 19 years since I made my senior international debut back in 1998. I have enjoyed it all.
“It has also been a great honour for both me and my family to have been given the opportunity to captain my country for over ten years.
“As a young boy growing up in Dublin playing football on the street, I could never have imagined the path my life would take – it has exceeded my wildest expectations.
“I have been extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to play for and captain my country – it was my ultimate goal all those years ago and it has been, by far, my greatest achievement.
“I would never have believed all those years ago that I would get the opportunity to play for my country 145 times and to score 67 goals – and through it all, I have never stopped chasing the next one.
“I have been on the most incredible journey with the Irish team and fans over the last 18 years and words cannot express how proud I am to be Irish. Each and every time I put on the green jersey, it is such an honour.
“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.
“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.
“I have been very fortunate to play at major tournaments for Ireland over the years and I will cherish all of those memories. But one in particular stands out – the 2002 World Cup and scoring the late goal in Ibaraki, Japan against Oliver Kahn.
“The atmosphere, the adrenaline and the buzz from the fans that night is something I will always remember.
“I would like to thank all those who have supported me throughout my international career and who helped to make it all possible.”