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Keane, Robbie

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ROBBIE KEANE 2008

 

by Snez1 & Dave Usher

 

 

 

Date of Birth - 08/07/80

Nationality - Irish

Position - Forward

Games - 28

Goals - 7

Club Hons (Lpool) - None

Club Hons (Other) - Carling Cup 2007/08

Intnl Hons - Republic of Ireland Caps, and all time top scorer

Other Clubs - Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds, Tottenham, Celtic (loan), West Ham (loan)

 

On July 28th 2008, boyhood Liverpool fan Robert David Keane became the second most expensive signing in the club's entire history, fulfilling a childhood dream in a transfer deal worth a reported £19.3m from Tottenham Hotspur.

 

Robbie Keane started his professional career at Wolverhampton Wanderers after turning down a move to his favourite club, Liverpool as a 15 year old. The reason cited for this surprising choice was that the youngster was desperate to get a chance of playing top level football as soon as possible and thought a move to the midlands club would allow him to progress through the ranks quicker than a move to Liverpool.

 

Aged 17, his decision was vindicated and he got his chance in the Wolves first team and duly grabbed it with both hands, notching 2 goals against Norwich. He went on to make 73 appearances for Wolves, scoring 24 goals between 1997 and 1999 before the first big money move of his career to Coventry City for £7m, thus becoming the most expensive teenager in British football history.

 

He spent one season at Coventry in the Premier League where he scored an impressive 12 goals in 33 games. This form alerted legendary Inter Milan manager Marcello Lippi to the youngster's talents and subsequently he snapped up Keane for a massive £13m in 2000 despite already having a forward line boasting the talents of Christian Vieri and Ronaldo.

 

Unfortunately for Keane, he was unable to establish himself in Serie A as Lippi was sacked almost immediately after his transfer and replaced by Marco Tardelli who only allowed Keane to make 6 appearances for the Milan side before accepting a loan bid from the then high flying Leeds United.

 

In his loan spell at Leeds (his 4th club in just 2 years), Keane impressed, scoring at a rate of 1 in 2 and finishing the season with 9 goals in 18 games. Then manager David O'Leary didn't baulk at the £12m asking price Inter demanded for Keane and quickly offered him an instant return to the Premier League. The next season however was not as impressive for Keane who only scored 9 goals before becoming one of the many high profile players to leave the now financially crippled Leeds the following summer for just £7m to join Glenn Hoddle at Tottenham Hotspur.

 

His first 2 seasons in north London we're very successful and he finished as the club's top scorer in each, scoring 13 and 16 goals respectively. However, in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons he found his position under considerable threat after the arrivals of Jermaine Defoe and Egyptian striker Mido who were then manager Martin Jol's favoured partnership. Despite this, Keane managed to force his way back into the side (a popular recall from the Spurs fan point of view) and finished as Spurs top scorer in 05/06 ahead of both Mido and Defoe with 16 goals.

 

For the 2006/07 season Keane's place looked less assured once more as Spurs shelled out big money on highly rated Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.

 

However, it was Englishman Defoe who would spend the next season sat mainly on the bench as Keane and Berbatov struck up one of the most feared strike partnerships in the Premiership. Many see this as the year that Robbie Keane finally established himself as a top class striker. He ended that season with his best ever return of 22 goals to go with a string of impressive performances alongside his enigmatic Bulgarian striker partner and subsequently went one better the following season in 2007/08 by scoring 23 times.

 

The 2007/08 season was his most successful to date and he collected his first winners medal in senior football after being part of the side that defeated Chelsea in the Carling Cup final. In the final 15 games of that season he managed to score an incredible 15 goals which confirmed that his game had moved up yet another level.

 

In fact, over the calendar year of 2007, Keane was the top scoring player in the Premier League bagging 19 league goals (31 in all competitions with 13 assists). He also scored twice at Anfield in a 2-2 draw in late 2007 in an impressive diplay and he and Berbatov continued to shine despite Tottenham's consistent underachievement in the league.

 

Despite being happy at Spurs, in July 2008 he was offered the chance of a lifetime when Rafa Benitez gave him the opportunity to join his boyhood club once again, and this time Keane would not pass up his dream move. After his move to Liverpool was finally thrashed out after much infighting between the two clubs, Robbie Keane officially became the most expensive British player of all time (his total transfer fee's now topping £59m).

 

His dream move quickly turned sour, as Keane unwittingly ended up as a pawn in a political game between Benitez and then chief-exec Rick Parry. Despite hinting at the contrary, Benitez did want to sign Robbie Keane and the player was not forced on him by Parry. However, having agreed a fee with Spurs Benitez wanted to put the deal on hold and sign Gareth Barry from Aston Villa. He then planned on selling Xabi Alonso, and using that money to return for Keane.

 

Parry refused, his reasoning was twofold. Firstly, Keane had gone out on a limb to get his dream move, leaving him in limbo at Spurs would not be a popular move, especially given that Spurs were threatening legal action as they claimed Liverpool had not gone about things in the correct manner. Secondly, the club needed a replacement for the departed Peter Crouch more than they needed a replacement for Alonso, who was still at the club and who would go on to be the reds' player of the year. So Parry did the Keane deal and told Benitez he'd have to wait to sign Barry.

 

That was the start of Keane's problems. He confided to team-mates that he felt like a leper from the moment he walked through the door and his relationship with Benitez was frosty at best. He struggled for form early in the season, and often found himself on the subs bench as Benitez opted to go with just one striker, which was always going to be Fernando Torres. It wasn't all bad, he scored seven goals in the short time he was on Merseyside, the pick of them being a brilliant half volley in a 1-1 draw away at Arsenal. For the most part, it was a struggle though.

 

The writing was clearly on the wall for Keane when he had to watch from the touchline as Liverpool were held to a 2-2 draw at home by newly promoted Hull City. It seemed incomprehensible that Benitez would not use a striker he paid £20m for when his team desperately needed a goal. It was clear that there was something going on and that Keane's days were numbered. After scoring twice in a home win over Bolton Keane found himself left out of the next match at Newcastle. Benitez's starting line up that day was proved to be justified as the reds destroyed the Geordies, but it was telling that Keane couldn't even get on as a substitute, as the manager sent on David Ngog instead.

 

With the January transfer window coming to a close, speculation continued to mount that Benitez was looking to offload the Irishman just six months after paying £20m for him. Harry Redknapp had recently took charge at Spurs, and a deal was struck for the frontman to return to White Hart Lane at a substantial loss to Liverpool, and with no replacement lined up.

 

Keane's move to Liverpool was to signal the start of a rapid decline in his career. He never nailed down a regular spot at Spurs, and failed to impress in loan spells at Celtic and West Ham. Given the chance to do it all over again, it's highly unlikely he'd make the same move, boyhood red or not.

 

 

More info on Robbie Keane:

 

Robbie Keane - LFCHistory.net

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