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My Spurs debut | Robbie Keane vs West Ham | 15.09.2002

Tue 05 December 2023, 17:00|Tottenham Hotspur

Robbie Keane's debut for us over 21 years ago included a trademark moment of magic to win a typical rollercoaster affair against West Ham.

Introduced to the home fans two weeks earlier - 31 August, 2002 - after joining us from Leeds United, 'Keano' jetted straight off on international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Two weeks later, he made his mark against the Hammers in front of his new adoring fanbase at the Lane.

A relatively subdued first half was followed by a five-goal flourish after the break as Simon Davies opened the scoring on 62 minutes, only for future Spur Fredi Kanoute to level four minutes later.

Over the years, the club has always had those players who could do something different, that style of player, and that's why I had that connection with the fans from day one

Robbie Keane

Keano's moment arrived on 71 minutes. Picked out by Goran Bunjevcevic but with his back to goal, edge of the box, Keano controlled the pass on his chest and as West Ham defender Ian Pearce came in to challenge, flicked the ball over his head. That left him with David James to beat, but Pearce brought him down before he could get a shot off. Referee Uriah Rennie awarded the penalty, Pearce received a straight and Teddy Sheringham planted the spot-kick into the top corner.

West Ham would level again, though, as Paolo Di Canio picked out Trevor Sinclair with a quick free-kick and Sinclair prodded home for 2-2. With time running out, it was left to Anthony Gardner to be the unlikely match winner. He strode forward, let fly from 25 yards and his shot deflected off Gary Breen and home.

Robbie's impact was a sign of things to come. He would score 122 goals for us in 306 appearances in all competitions in two spells, 2002-2011, lifting the League Cup in 2008. In total, he scored an incredible 325 goals in 737 career appearances, 1997-2018 and played for Wolves, Coventry City, Inter, Spurs, Liverpool, LA Galaxy and ATK in India, and had loans at Celtic, West Ham and Villa.

One of the modern greats, Keano remains the Republic of Ireland's all-time record cap and goalscorer with 68 goals in 146 caps, 1998-2016. He's now Head Coach at Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Speaking to us this week, Robbie recalled that debut. "I remember getting the penalty, chipping the ball over a defender's head, and then Teddy stuck it away. Apart from that, I don't remember too much! I think I had a decent game for a debut.

"I looked up to Teddy as a player, how he played the game and to be on the pitch with him was great. As soon as I got that penalty, you knew Teddy was more than likely to score. I remember the photo of us celebrating as well, it was a nice moment.

Watch Keano's debut in full!

"I learned a lot from Teddy. I would drop off as well, and Teddy was probably the best at that. I had so much energy at the time, always wanted to run around, and Teddy gave me some great advice - something I still pass on to young kids now - and that's to sometimes just stand still, because players around you are moving. Teddy was the master at that, similar in many ways to Dimitar Berbatov, and that's why we clicked as well. Berba could go long, go short, mix it up. The centre-backs who we played against didn't know who was coming or going, so we were always difficult to play against.

"I was able to come up with those special moments and special goals at times. That's what I think the Spurs fans enjoyed about me. I could do things differently and come up with those goals. Over the years, the club has always had those players who could do something different, that style of player, and that's why I had that connection with the fans from day one."

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