Robbie Keane biding his time in wait for next coaching job

Robbie Keane has revealed he has turned down offers to resume his coaching career as he awaits the right opportunity.

The 40-year-old former Republic of Ireland striker spent 18 months working as Mick McCarthy’s assistant during his second spell in charge of the national team and last season in a similar role at Middlesbrough under former Tottenham team-mate Jonathan Woodgate.

McCarthy has since made way for Stephen Kenny to take up the Ireland job, while Woodgate was replaced by the vastly experienced Neil Warnock amid an ultimately successful scramble for Sky Bet Championship safety, leaving Keane looking for his next, but by no means the first, opportunity.

Robbie Keane (left) spent last season working as then Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate's assistant
Robbie Keane (left) spent last season working as then Middlesbrough head coach Jonathan Woodgate's assistant

He told the PA news agency: “I’m certainly in no rush, I’m not desperate. I’ll wait for the right opportunity. I’ve had opportunities already and I’ve turned them down because it didn’t feel like they were right for me.

“It has to be the right fit, it has to be the right opportunity. If it comes up, I’ll certainly look a it – like I have done – and assess it, but I’m not really in a rush to jump into something that doesn’t suit me.”

In the meantime, Keane is ready to continue an education in coaching which to date has been conducted at break-neck pace.

He said: “These past two years, I’ve fitted a lot in that maybe a lot of people wouldn’t fit in in terms of being with Mick McCarthy for 18 months and then at Middlesbrough, thrown in at the deep end there for one year in the Championship which, as we know, is full-on.

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“Certainly these two years will absolutely help me going forward as a manager.”

It is almost two years since Dubliner Keane decided to hang up his boots at the age of 38, in the process calling time on a glittering playing career which had taken him from Crumlin United to LA Galaxy via Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan, Leeds, Tottenham, Liverpool and briefly Celtic, West Ham and Aston Villa.

His 126 Premier League goals put him 15th place in the all-time list, but it is his record 68 for Ireland – Niall Quinn is second with 21 – which is a source of huge satisfaction, if some frustration.

Keane said with a smile: “I wish I’d have got to 70! That was always me – if I got 40, I wanted to get 50, if I got 50, I wanted to get 60. I wish I’d have got to 70.

14 years ago today, Robbie Keane did this against Germany at the 2002 FIFA World Cup! #COYBIG

— FAIreland ⚽️🇮🇪 (@FAIreland) June 5, 2016

“But listen, to get 68… Playing for Ireland meant so much to me. I’ve said before that green jersey always seemed to fit nicely on me. They were special moments and to get the 68 goals and over 140 caps, that’s certainly something I look back on and I’m very proud of.”

Keane will be back on the pitch on Sunday when he lines up for a World XI against an England team in the annual Soccer Aid charity match behind closed doors at Old Trafford, and he will do so with a message for the next generation of would-be professionals, one he has already passed on to his 11-year-old son Robert and his team-mates.

He said: “I got knock-backs as a kid – I was too small, too skinny. Even though I was top goalscorer in the league ever year for Crumlin, I was told, ‘You’re just too small at the moment’.

“But ability is half the battle, it’s the hard work. If you put 100 per cent in to what you want to do and what you want to achieve, you’ll achieve a hell of a lot.”

*Robbie Keane is playing in Soccer Aid for Unicef, which takes place on Sunday 6th September, live and exclusive on ITV and STV from 6.30pm. Every £1 donated will become £3 thanks to the UK Government and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance.