Belfast Telegraph

Brad Pitt can wait - Robbie Keane just happy to be home and inspiring the Republic

By Ian Parkes

Republic of Ireland skipper Robbie Keane has insisted his Hollywood adventure will not lessen his hunger for success on the international stage.



The 31-year-old LA Galaxy striker flew back into Dublin earlier this week to begin preparations for tonight’s Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovakia.

However, he is adamant that the glamour of life in Los Angeles in the company of former England captain David Beckham and the city's celebrity culture will not deflect him from the task of attempting to lead his country to next summer's finals in Poland and the Ukraine.

Keane said: “That's not going to change. Just because I'm 10 hours away on a flight, it's certainly not going to change my desire to play for my country.

“I had the same desire as I have now when I was 17 and the same commitment, so for me, it's no different.

“I will just continue doing what I have been doing for the last 10 years, and that's scoring goals.

“My record probably speaks for itself, so I'll continue to do that.

“In the last two years, I have scored a lot of goals in the campaign, so I will just keep trying to do what I do for Ireland and do what I do best by scoring goals.”

Keane has made just two appearances to date for his new club, scoring in the first, in a dream start, but admits he is yet to get to grips with life on the other side of the Atlantic.

He said: “It just happened so quickly, so I can't really remember too much of it. I was off the plane and basically playing.

“It's been so quick. I have been there only a week or so. Obviously, the weather is a little bit better than over here.”

Asked if he had come across the likes of Brad Pitt or George Clooney yet, he replied: “No, not yet. I'll let you know when I do.”

Keane, who revealed he spoke to Beckham before committing himself to the Galaxy, said he had not yet broached the subject of returning to play in Europe during Major League Soccer's off-season as the midfielder has done.

However, he admitted that, as things stand, he is unlikely to follow suit.

He said: “I have only been there a short space of time, so I haven't had the opportunity to have a chat, but at this stage, I would say not.”

However, all that matters to Keane for the next five days or so are crucial Group B clashes with Slovakia and Russia, who host the Republic in Moscow on Tuesday.

All three sides are currently tied on 13 points at the top of the table, and Keane is only too aware of what is at stake.

He said: “The feelings are obviously very, very high that we have a real chance of qualifying from the group. If you look at the way the teams are, we are up there and that's the most important thing.

“These two games are going to be massive in the next five days and it's important that we try to get maximum points and if not, not to lose any games.

“These two games will dictate whether we qualify or not.

“Winning games brings a winning mentality and confidence to the whole team. In the last year, we have certainly had this belief that we can win big games against big countries, and we have done that.”

Keane will be partnered in attack by West Brom frontman Shane Long tonight with usual partner Kevin Doyle starting on the bench, while Stephen Ward will line up at left-back as Kevin Kilbane misses his first competitive international since November 1999, a run of 66 games, because of a back injury.

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