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The Big Interview - Robbie Keane

Posted on 27 July 2015  - 19:30

It seems incredible that it's almost 13 years since a certain Robert David Keane was introduced to the fans at White Hart Lane.

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He remembers that day well, right down to the tie he was wearing!

Thirteen years on, he's still producing the type of performances for LA Galaxy that made him a modern-day legend here at Spurs and, later this week, he'll be part of the MLS All-Star team lining-up against us in Denver.

'Keano' made 306 appearances for us in all competitions between 2002-2011 and scored 122 goals. He stands 10th in our list of all-time goalscorers and is one of only 16 players in our 133-year history to hit a century of goals for the club.

As he prepares for the MLS's showcase event, Robbie took time out to talk exclusively to tottenhamhotspur.com on both his successful time in America - he recently became the first Irishman to win an ESPY award - and reflect on some of the magic moments in his time here, the reasons why he says 'Tottenham will always be my club'.

First of all Robbie, how does it feel to be selected for the MLS All-Stars and to be playing against us?
Robbie:
"The All Star game a big occasion for the league and something you see in basketball, baseball and NFL over here as well. Any player in the MLS wants to be involved in this game. This is a special one for me because it’s against Tottenham, my club, the club where I felt I made my name and had a big impact. Everyone knows Spurs is a club that’s very close to my heart, so this is a big deal for me.”

Below: Robbie introduced to the crowd at the Lane - September, 2002

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You've now been joined in the MLS by the likes of Kaka, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard - what does that say about the stature of the league?
Robbie:
"It’s definitely growing, you only have to look at the players here now and they are players who want to come over. It’s great for the MLS and important the league continues to grow and to have players want to come here. You don’t get players like Kaka, Pirlo, Stevie Gerrard here in LA and Lampard coming here just to have a laugh, they are proper, professional players who want to do well. It’s the same as me. I didn’t come over here for a holiday. Yes, I wanted to enjoy my life, but I want to do things at the highest level and I’ve managed to achieve a lot in the four years I’ve been out here."

You've won three MLS titles, been voted MLS MVP and recently won an ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Year). You must be proud of how it's gone in LA.
Robbie:
"I won an ESPY last week, the first Irish person to ever win an ESPY, that’s a big deal for me. It was a proud moment to receive that award, a young lad from Dublin winning an ESPY award, in Hollywood! That’s not too bad! We’ve won three titles in four years and I’ve won an ESPY, MLS MVP, so I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve and that’s what I want to see when players come here, to want to do something, to win things. I’m hungry to win things and I’ll be devastated if we don’t win the league again this year."

Below: The famous celebration on show for a special day, his hat-trick against Everton - January, 2003

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Believe it or not, in August it will be 13 years since you first joined us, do you remember your first days here?
Robbie:
"Yes, of course. I remember the tie I was wearing when I was first introduced to the crowd at White Hart Lane! I had a shirt with 22 on it, yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. It’s weird. I was at a few clubs before that but I always loved Tottenham. I always loved playing at the stadium. I scored against Spurs for Coventry with a little dink (September, 1999) and I remember thinking at the time ‘this is the best stadium I’ve played in’. For me, signing for Spurs was a no-brainer."

It was said at the time that you wanted to settle down and that you found a home at Spurs.
Robbie:
"Yes, Glenn Hoddle said it was time I found a home and he was right. It felt like home to me as well, and it still does in a way. Even though I’ve left, it feels like I’ve never left. Does that make sense? I’m still in contact with so many people and still feel part of the club."

There were so many magic moments, let's just talk about a few that stand out - first of all, your hat-trick against Everton in January, 2003 - an emotional day for you...
Robbie:
"That was the last time my dad watched me live, and I scored that hat-trick. That’s when he started to get ill (Robbie Snr passed away in March, 2003). When I scored, I ran straight over to the box where he was watching. For me, that was the most memorable game because of that. It was a very emotional day."

Below: His favourite Spurs goal in a 3-2 win against Blackburn - March, 2006

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What about the goal against Blackburn in March, 2006? The flick over Robbie Savage, cut inside Andy Todd and volley home?
Robbie:
"That’s my favourite Spurs goal. The ball went out for a throw, Mido picked it up quickly and threw it to me, right byline, I saw Robbie Savage running towards me and the only thing I could do was dink it over him. You can’t plan something like that, it just worked out that way. I had to do it how I did it and it worked out well!"

Below: Emotions running high after our League Cup win at Wembley - February, 2008

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 Finally, the sight of you running back onto the pitch after we'd won the League Cup Final against Chelsea in 2008, the raw emotions were caught by the TV cameras. What do you remember about that?
Robbie:
"You know when you just can’t wait for something to end? That’s why I was like that. I ran my heart out and I had to come off with cramp. We were so up for that game and to hear the final whistle was one of the best feelings I had ever. To have been at the club since 2002, experiencing the ups and downs, that was so special. We had a great squad and we deserved to win something. It was a good group, a good dressing room and we were made up to win it."

You still stand 10th overall in our all-time goalscorers - how do you look back at your time at the club?
Robbie:
"When I finish playing, I’ll look back at it all and think ‘I did alright for a lad from Dublin’. At the moment, I’m still playing and looking forward but one thing's for sure, Tottenham will always be my club.

TOP PHOTOGRAPH

Top row, from left:

Introductions after signing - August, 2002

Celebrations with Teddy Sheringham and Matt Etherington after a winning debut against West Ham - September, 2002

His first Spurs goal at Blackburn - October, 2002

Robbie's first home goal against Bolton - October, 2002

A hat-trick against Everton - January, 2003

Bottom row, from left:

Celebrating his favourite Spurs goal against Blackburn with Jermaine Jenas and Michael Carrick - March, 2006

Wearing the captain's armband and first European goal for us against Slavia Prague - September, 2006

Hitting the 100-goal mark for the club - January, 2008

With the League Cup - February, 2008

Robbie's final competitive appearance for us at Everton - January, 2011