Robbie Keane on countdown to EUROS

Robbie Keane on countdown to EUROS

Ireland captain up for Sunday's meeting with Croatia...
7th Jun 2012

Republic of Ireland team captain Robbie Keane has called on his side to make the most of the opportunity awaiting them at the EURO 2012 finals.

The Irish open their group against Croatia on Sunday in Poznan, followed by further tests against Spain and Italy.

Speaking ahead of the tournament which kicks off at the weekend, Ireland's record goalscorer Robbie Keane spoke about the morale in the camp and the inspiration coming from manager Giovanni Trapattoni.

"These finals have been a long time coming for us, and this could be probably the last chance for many players, so we have to grasp that with both hands," said the LA Galaxy striker.

"I think you have to be positive. Listen, we are not stupid, we have probably one of the toughest groups but I think we are better when we are one of the underdogs.

"By no means are we thinking that it is going to be easy. It is going to be tough, and we certainly know that, but there are no easy games any more, in any international games."

He added: "Our manager certainly gets the best out of the players. I think - as players - you get some managers who try to over-complicate things.

"But when you get someone like Trapattoni, he knows exactly what he has to do - I mean, he's been in the game for a long time, he has won nearly every trophy that is possible - so he certainly knows his stuff.

"The good thing is that the players know exactly what they have to do when they go out on that pitch, and that has been the case since he has come in. So I think that is probably the main thing with him."

Ireland's last appearance at the European Championship finals came in 1988 but, even then at the age of 7, Keane can remember the fervour of excitement that gripped the country.

He said: "I just remember all the banners on the streets and the street parties. Great memories from then – obviously Ray Houghton scoring against England, in 1990 as well, the World Cup, when Packie Bonner saved the penalty, and David O'Leary scored.

"So, they were really fond memories. And, now to be kind of, as a player, it's great. Hopefully in years to come there will be some kid sitting here in my spot and saying the same thing about how well we did."