LONDON — New LA Galaxy star signing Robbie Keane has spent much of his glittering career in the limelight as his ability to score goals of all kinds has tormented defenders across the globe. The Irish national team captain’s move to LA from EPL side Tottenham Hotspur on Monday has created a huge level of interest around the soccer world, and the predatory forward admits his move to the MLS is “a dream come true.”
Here are five memorable occasions from the Irish strikers’ career so far.
Stunning Germany on the big stage
On a sweltering evening in Japan on June 5, 2002, Keane flew onto the international soccer scene in sensational fashion. The forward smashed home a rasping shot in injury time to give Ireland a 1-1 draw against Germany in Kashima during the group stages of the 2002 World Cup.
The 5-foot-9 forward latched on to a beautifully cushioned knock down from strike partner Niall Quinn in the 92nd minute and dispatched a venomous strike past German 'keeper Oliver Kahn, sending the Irish supporters wild. That goal all but sealed Ireland’s passage into the last 16 of the competition, where they eventually lost to Spain in a penalty shootout.
“Keano” recorded his first-ever EPL hat trick in a scintillating second-half display for Tottenham in a 4-3 win against Everton on January 12, 2003. The diminutive fox-in-the-box pounced three times in a lethal 33-minute spell against the Toffees.
Keane sealed all three points and his hat trick with seven minutes left, as he nipped in between two Everton defenders before slotting home sublimely. Cue Keane’s iconic goal celebration that involves him performing a cartwheel then firing an imaginary arrow towards the crowd. After scoring 122 goals in 306 appearances in all competitions for Spurs, Keane is ninth on their all time goal-scoring charts.
League Cup glory
The English League Cup that Keane won with Tottenham on Feb. 24, 2008, is his one and only major honor in club and international soccer to date. Keane started the game at Wembley Stadium and played a pivotal role as Spurs topped Chelsea 2-1 after extra time, with the North London side coming back from one goal down to secure a famous victory.
The Irishman also had the privilege of leading the team on their climb up the famous steps at Wembley to the Royal Box where he lifted the trophy as vice captain alongside Tottenham’s club captain Ledley King. The silverware was Tottenham’s first since winning the League Cup in 1999.
Big money moves
Keane made the biggest move of his career when he joined EPL powerhouse Liverpool on July 28, 2008, for a transfer fee in excess of $33.6 million. The Irish star, however, failed to settle with the Reds and left to rejoin Tottenham just six months after his big money move.
The new LA No. 14 has accumulated more than $120 million in total transfer fees as big money moves to Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool show his pedigree as a renowned goalscoring machine amongst the upper echelons of European soccer. In 433 starts at club level, Keane has scored 207 goals.
All-time leading goalscorer
The Dublin native was already the all-time leading goalscorer in Irish national-team history. Now he is the leading goalscorer in the history of international soccer in the British Isles after scoring his 50th and 51st goals for Ireland against Macedonia in their 2-0 Euro 2012 qualifier win in Skopje on July 4 2011. Keane’s first goal was a deflected effort and his second came after he capitalized on a wayward back pass, allowing him to finish expertly.
Keane has now replaced England and Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton at the top of the British Isles international scoring charts in yet another remarkable achievement in his sparkling career.
You can follow Joe Prince-Wright on Twitter on @JPW8.