Robbie Keane first burst onto the scene with Wolverhampton Wanderers after progressing through the youth system at the Molineux, scoring a brace on his debut versus Norwich City aged just 17. He then went on to score 16 goals in the 1998/99 season, his second for the club, and that goal scoring form caught the attention of Gordon Strachan. The Sky Blues forked out £6million for the Republic of Ireland striker in the summer of 1999 and he became Britain’s most expensive teenager at the time.
His stay at Highfield Road proved to be a brief one, but the impact he made was invaluable as City finished 14th in the Premier League. The 19-year-old featured 34 times in a sky blue shirt, alongside players such as Youssef Chippo, Mustapha Hadji and Gary McAllister who all formed the foundations of a stylish, attacking side. Keane fired home 12 goals during his only season in Coventry before Inter Milan secured his services for £13million in July 2000 – the record amount the Sky Blues have ever received for a player.
Despite signing a five-year deal for the European giants, his career in Italy didn’t go to plan. Marcello Lippi was sacked as Inter boss shortly after Keane arrived in Milan, and new boss Marco Tardelli quickly deemed the forward as surplus to requirements. He was then farmed out on loan to Leeds United before making the move to Elland Road permanent at the end of the 2000/01 campaign after he impressed. His form dipped the following year, however, and with the Whites’ financial issues rife, he was sold to Tottenham Hotspur in August 2002.
For the first time in his career, Keane was offered some stability with Spurs and he clocked up just short of 200 appearances during his first six-year spell with the club before joining Liverpool in 2008. He only stayed at Anfield for 12 months though, and in the summer of 2009 he returned to Tottenham. More loan moves then saw him represent Celtic and West Ham United before he jetted off to the States to sign for LA Galaxy in 2011.
Five years were then spent at the MLS side and he scored 83 goals in 125 games either side of a temporary stint at Aston Villa. Aged 37, Keane left LA and made India his home as he joined Super League outfit, ATK, where he was named as club captain. In March 2018, Teddy Sheringham was sacked as manager and Keane took over the reigns as player-manager, replacing his former teammate in the role. He then scored the winning goal against NorthEast United FC on his managerial debut, with the victory ensuring his team did not finish at the foot of the Indian Super League.
Now making the first steps in the world of management, Keane will be hoping he can be as successful in the dugout as he was out on the pitch. Now the Republic of Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer and record appearance holder, he has hung up his boots on the international stage, but he hasn’t officially retired from the professional game. When he eventually does, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for ‘Keano’, but I am sure all Coventry supporters would wish him all the best. He wasn’t with us for long, but he is a reminder of the good times – we certainly need them!