Martin O'Neill: Robbie Keane is one of Ireland's finest ever players

The Ireland boss praised the retiring forward and said his international goals tally looks unlikely to ever be beaten

BY Newstalk 17:32 Wednesday 24 August 2016, 17:32 24 Aug 2016

Ireland boss Martin O'Neill hailed Robbie Keane as one of Ireland's finest ever players in the wake of his international retirement.

Keane will make his final appearance in a green shirt against Oman next Wednesday at the Aviva Stadium.

In a statement today, O'Neill claimed that the 36-year-old's international goal-scoring record looks unlikely to ever be beaten.

"Robbie's appearances and goals for Ireland speak for themselves," he said.

"He is undoubtedly one of Ireland's finest every players and I do not see his international goal record being beaten for a very long time, if ever. It will take us some time to get over his absence."

Keane has enjoyed an 18-year senior career with Ireland, which started in March 1998 when he appeared as a substitute against Czech Republic and brought him all the way up to this summer's UEFA EURO 2016 in France.

The Tallaght native appeared in three major international tournaments (2002 FIFA World Cup, UEFA EURO 2012, UEFA EURO 2016) and scored in 15 consecutive years to place him 15th on the list of all-time international goalscorers.

Keane was twice named as the FAI Senior International Player of the Year (2010, 2013) and also picked up three FAI International Goal of the Year awards.

"Robbie has been one of the greatest Irish sports figures of all time and a truly great Irish man," said FAI CEO John Delaney.

"His goalscoring record of 67 goals from 145 games for Ireland is something that may never be beaten and I want to thank him for his contribution to the game, for his stunning performances, and for great leadership on and off the pitch.

"There are few footballers in the world who have showed such enthusiasm to play for their country as Robbie Keane. And even in the more recent years of his career he has been as enthusiastic to come and represent Ireland as when he was a teenager making his mark on the international game.

"I would like to wish Robbie and Claudine, and their children Robert and Hudson, the very best for the future, and they will always be very welcome back to the Aviva Stadium anytime."

Keane broke Niall Quinn's international goalscoring record for Ireland in 2004 with a brace against Faroe Islands. He went on to become the fourth senior player to earn 100 caps in the first international game at the redeveloped Aviva Stadium in 2010.

Part of the Ireland Under 18 team that won the UEFA European Championships in 1998, Keane was elevated to the senior team at the age of 17 after making the breakthrough with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

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