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Robbie Keane: The biography by Andrew Sleight

Release date: 13th April, 2007
Publisher: John Blake Publishing

List Price: 17.99
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Anyone who has had the good fortune to watch Spurs this season - now undeniably the most attractive side in north London - would be hard pushed to name a more consistent performer than Robbie Keane.

Prior to Tottenham's self-inflicted UEFA Cup defeat against Sevilla earlier this week, the likeable Irishman, still only 27, had notched 19 goals, thus maintaining an incredible record that has seen him score a goal every other game since arriving at White Hart Lane. Yet he never gets the credit he deserves for such a phenomenal record; one wonders why.

His story is one of an ordinary but talented guy, born in Tallaght, on the south-west fringe of Dublin, who supported Liverpool as a youngster and who, according to his family, started playing football not long after he could walk. Keane had other obvious talents; indeed, such was his guitar-playing prowess, that he earned the nickname 'BB Keane' while touring with the Republic of Ireland's under-18 side.

But it was football where Keane would make his name and, after turning down a succession of clubs including Liverpool, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Newcastle, the young Irishman, then just 17, opted for Wolves. The then Wolves' manager, Colin Lee, said of him that "the difference between a good player and a great player is incredible self-belief. Robbie always had that."

As he has proved over the ensuing decade, during which various football clubs have paid an astonishing £38 million to secure his signature, Robbie Keane may lack height, but he isn't short on self belief.

Andrew Sleight scores by making this biography a chatty affair; he has clearly researched his subject in depth, but there are several incidents in Robbie Keane's life that make for compelling reading.

Having moved from Wolves to Coventry where, under the watchful eye of Gordon Strachan, he made his Premiership debut, Keane then signed for Inter Milan in July 2000. The fee, an eye-watering £13 million, meant that the Sky Blues had more than doubled their money - a continued source of great misery to Wolves' fans as the Molineux outfit never included a sell-on clause when they sold him to Coventry.

Although the move made Robbie Keane a rich man, the author is quick to point out that "despite the plaudits, Keane misunderstood his position in the pecking order at Inter Milan." Just because he had been acquired for £13m didn't mean he would suddenly move ahead of players such as Ronaldo, Vieri and Hakan Suker to fill the one forward place available in the Internaziole side.

With hindsight, it is clear that Keane was bought not to feature too prominently in a team then involved in the Champions League, but as the fourth or fifth striker, a frustrating position for a 19-year-old. Although he was convinced he would be able to make an impact in northern Italy and was impressed by manager Marcello Lippi, Keane leapt at the chance to return to England full time after enjoying a spell on loan at Leeds.

The chapter headed "The Saviour of Seoul" speaks for itself. Who could forget Keane's stunning last minute equaliser against the mighty Germans in the 2002 World Cup? Most of Ireland couldn't, which ensured that the nation was in the grip of 'Robbiemania' when the squad returned home.

Tellingly, Sleight maintains it was at this point that Keane made up his mind to leave Elland Road and head to Spurs, a place he now considers to be his spiritual home. Already his country's leading goalscorer, Keane is a man who enjoys great rapport with the White Hart Lane faithful. Like a good wine, he as matured well and enjoys his superstar status, but one gets the impression he remains an ordinary bloke at heart.

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