ROBBIE KEANE: From day one Lane fans were brilliant, and still are
IT HAS been a season of milestones for Tottenham striker Robbie Keane. The Ireland skipper became only the 15th player to score 100 goals for Spurs in January against Sunderland. On Saturday, Keane made his 250th appearance for the Lilywhites in the 1-1 P
IT HAS been a season of milestones for Tottenham striker Robbie Keane.
The Ireland skipper became only the 15th player to score 100 goals for Spurs in January against Sunderland.
On Saturday, Keane made his 250th appearance for the Lilywhites in the 1-1 Premier League draw against Middlesbrough.
However, when the Dubliner first arrived in N17 in August 2002, many pundits predicted that he would not settle at the Lane.
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The 22-year-old had already played for four clubs in his first five years as a professional - Wolves, Coventry, Inter Milan and Leeds. But six years later Keane has proved the doubters wrong - and how.
"I've always said from day one that this was the place I wanted to be and it was a club going in the right direction," said Keane this week.
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"I wanted to be part of that and I want to continue to be part of it for as long as I can. I'm more than at home here and everyone here makes me feel so welcome. As long as I have that I'll always feel part of the place.
"It was a real privilege for me to reach 250 games for Tottenham.
"It is a great achievement and something I'm proud of. Hopefully, there will be many more to come."
Keane also won his first major medal this season - the Carling Cup against Chelsea - and fulfilled a boyhood dream when he lifted the cup with Ledley King at Wembley Stadium.
"It was a dream come true for me," said Keane, who skippered Spurs during King's long absence through injury.
"As a kid growing up on the streets of Dublin I always dreamed of lifting the cup at Wembley.
"It was a special moment for both of us. As players we've been through a lot and experienced many ups and downs."
Life at the Lane has not always been smooth for Keane, who was signed by Glenn Hoddle. He scored 13 goals in his first season and 15 in the next - mainly in struggling Spurs sides.
However, the Irishman quickly became a fans' favourite and he has never forgotten their support.
"The fans have always been brilliant to me," he said. "You play for yourself and your family but the fans are so important in any sporting industry, let alone football. I've been so lucky from day one that they have been great to me and I appreciate that."
The arrival of Jacques Santini with Martin Jol as his No 2 signalled an upturn in the club's aspirations. Yet, when Jermain Defoe was signed from West Ham, followed by fellow strikers Mido and Dimitar Berbatov, Keane was linked with a move away from the Lane.
But the goals continued to flow - often from the bench - and he netted 17 in the 2004/5 season and 16 the following season. Although Jol soon became a Keane fan, it was only when Defoe hit a barren run last season that the Irishman grabbed a starting place alongside Berbatov.
He scored 22 goals and helped Tottenham to a second consecutive fifth-place finish. Keane continued to prosper throughout Jol's final days - the Dutchman made him captain in King's absence - and grew in confidence under Juande Ramos.
This season Keane has already reached last term's tally and is in a personal battle with Berbatov who also has 22.
Indeed, the pair are closing in on another milestone - to become the first pairing to score more than 50 goals in a season since Teddy Sheringham and Jurgen Klinsmann fired home 52 in 1994/95.
They are currently on 44 with four games remaining.
And if the Irishman is selected to face Wigan at the JJB Stadium tomorrow, he will reach yet another milestone - the 350th league appearance of his career.