Robbie Keane calls time on Ireland career in fitting farewell

Goal.com

The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Cheers, Blackadder Goes Forth, Robbie Keane's international career. All had perfect finales consistent with the high quality of everything that had preceded it.

Keane's goal 30 minutes into his last ever game for the Republic of Ireland proved entirely fitting for a man who has played 146 times for his country, with his 68th international strike taking him level with Gerd Muller in the all-time goalscorers' list.

In truth, the friendly international against Oman was a tame affair and provided no real test for Martin O'Neill's side before Monday's World Cup qualifier with Serbia. However, the game showcased Keane's career perfectly.

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In the build-up to Keane's last ever international, former Ireland teammate Stephen Hunt criticised the striker for his selfishness in front of goal, claiming that the Dubliner got all the credit for putting the ball away after other people had done the hard work.

With a testimonial atmosphere infecting the fans and the players at the Aviva Stadium, Jon Walters gave up on a clear goalscoring chance to try to get Keane on the scoresheet. That seemed to be the approach of everyone in a green jersey - get the ball to Keane and hope he scores.

When the former Tottenham Hotspur striker was in his prime, that was also the approach of his teammates. They knew that if they could give the ball to Keane in the box, it could easily end up in the net. 

Before his exquisite bit of skill to turn the ball past Faiz Al Rushaidi, Keane also harked back to his past, gesticulating at teammates for not giving the ball in the exact position he wanted, and then muttering to himself when a chip grazed the top of the net.

Keane has often been a divisive figure for Irish supporters, with many expecting him to score with each and every opportunity after he burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old full of confidence and cockiness.

Similarly, many have accused the striker of being a 'flat-track bully', only scoring against the minnows of the world, bloating his goalscoring record with penalties and tap-ins against inferior opposition.

His 68th goal may have been against the team ranked 107th in the world, but it was no tap in, controlling a high pass from Walters before curling it into the net. The quality of the finish was among his best, evoking memorable strikes against the giants of the world. After all, this is a player who scored against both Germany and Spain at the 2002 World Cup.

The crowd leaving the Aviva Stadium after the comprehensive victory over Oman may take little away from the game, but like Keane's career, they will not realise just how easy he made it all look until long after he's gone.

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