Monday, December 31, 2007

'There's Only One Robbie Keane!'

Robbie Keane – Top Scorer in 2007

Six goals against Reading and the club’s leading scorer for the calendar year of 2007 doesn’t get on the score sheet, in fact, he misses a penalty at 4 – 4 but sees Jermain Defoe save his blushes as he heads in the rebound. He is then substituted as the team wins 6-4.

That sums up the enigma that is Robbie Keane. Love him or loathe him, as some Spurs fans do, you have to acknowledge that he has an instinct for goals and frequently goals of the spectacular variety.

Robbie Keane joined Tottenham in August, 2002 from Leeds United for £7 million as his former club slipped into financial ruin. Only turned 22 years of age, Keane had also played for Wolves, Coventry and Inter Milan. At the time there was newspaper talk that the signing was controversial due to a difference in view between the manager, Glenn Hoddle, and the Director of Football, David Pleat. Pleat was reported to be in favour of the signing while Hoddle was opposed to it, a view which could be supported as the manager left his new signing on the bench for the next game at Fulham which they lost from a winning position.

Keane made his debut in a 3-2 home win over West Ham United and scored his first goal for the club in an away win at Blackburn three weeks later. He has now scored 98 goals for Spurs in all competitions and his second goal against Fulham on Boxing Day was his 100th Premier League goal, making him the thirteenth player to achieve that milestone.

Keane has developed his game to become creator as well as goal scorer and has developed a great understanding with Dimitar Berbatov as shown by the cross that led to the Bulgarian scoring the first goal against Reading. He also won the penalty which led to Spurs going ahead. Until the past week Keane had been so reliable and shown such composure when taking penalties, able to focus on the task and exclude all distractions from the opposition. He had previously only missed one penalty for Spurs, saved by Spurs now reserve keeper, Ben Alnwick, when he was playing for Sunderland at White Hart Lane.

Keane has shown great commitment to Spurs and has been the leading scorer for a number of seasons and even when omitted from the team, he has battled back into contention. Able to play a variety of roles he has also combined well with other strike partners, Teddy Sheringham, Fredi Kanoute and Defoe.

For the early part of last season, manager Martin Jol rotated Keane and Defoe with Berbatov but eventually sided with Keane who could provide greater support to midfield as he often came to collect the ball before moving forward in attack. On occasions this was a fault in his play as when Spurs were under pressure Keane came further and further back leaving Berbatov isolated and Spurs brought more pressure on themselves.

Keane has many memorable goals – hat-tricks against Wolves and Everton, his juggling goal against Blackburn Rovers and the super strikes against Fulham in the Cup and in Europe. One other memorable moment was his dribbling and bamboozling of the Chelsea full back, leaving him on the ground, as he tricked his way up the line to eventually set up Aaron Lennon for the winner at White Hart Lane in November, 2006.

Martin Jol showed great faith in Keane, making him vice-captain, and he has accepted the responsibility as he did when appointed captain for the Ireland team. He is now their leading international goal scorer.

This past year, 2007, has seen Robbie Keane score 31 goals in all competitions, 19 of which were in the Premier League from 32 appearances, keeping him ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo (18 goals from 31 appearances) and other strikers including Benni McCarthy, Carlos Tevez, Yukubu, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba.

Last year started slowly for Keane who didn’t start a game in January and his first League goals didn’t come until late February when he scored two against Bolton Wanderers but was then sent off before half-time for handling the ball on the line following a corner. In his final seven League games of the season he scored nine goals and after a slow start to this season he scored another ten, bringing his total to nineteen.

To date, fourteen players have scored one hundred or more goals for Spurs, Robbie Keane is about to join that elite group headed by Jimmy Greaves. Given his age and continued good form and avoiding injury, Keane could very quickly move well up that list.

Hopefully, Robbie Keane will continue to head Spurs’ goal scoring lists as the club move forward to claim some long awaited silverware.


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