ROBBIE KEANE: reborn and refreshed from second life at Lane
by pat mooney THEY say you should never go back. But Robbie Keane has no doubts that his second life at Tottenham will be every bit as successful as first six-year stint in N19. Since his return to the Lane just six months after leaving for Liverpool, the Ireland capta
THEY say you should never go back.
But Robbie Keane has no doubts that his second life at Tottenham will be every bit as successful as first six-year stint in N19.
Since his return to the Lane just six months after leaving for Liverpool, the Ireland captain has hardly stopped smiling.
Keane led from the front on his second debut for the Lilywhites in the north London draw against Arsenal and last week grabbed both goals for the Republic of Ireland in their 2-1 win over Georgia in a World Cup qualifier win in Dublin.
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Keane scored just nine goals in 28 appearances for the Merseysiders and spent much of his last few weeks at Anfield on the bench, glumly sitting behind Reds boss Rafa Benitez.
Now, back "home" at the Lane and under a more symphatic manager in Harry Redknapp, whose first act was to make the Irishman captain, Keane feels reborn and refreshed.
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"This club is close to my heart," Keane told Ham&High Sport. "I've had the best period of my life here and it is the only one I would have come back to. I'm training and playing with a smile on my face again.
"I've come back to a fantastic club with fantastic players and a fantastic manager, who believes in his players. I am well aware of the strength of the squad, having worked with near enough all of them.
"Sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side and that has been the case here. It is like I was never away - I've even got the same space in the changing room."
Yet, Keane is quick to acknowledge that Tottenham are fighting for their Premier League survival.
The Lilywhites are are just twopoints off the drop zone and could be joint bottom by the time they play Hull City on Monday night.
"The reality is that we are in a relegation battle," said Keane. "It is up to us as players to get us out of it. It does not matter how good you think you are, if you are down there it is going to be difficult.
"We need to win games to pull clear of the relegation zone. It is all very close down there at the minute, and I will be be doing everything in my power to help us pull away from it.
"It's been an up and down season for the club and there's been a lot of change, including a change in manager. But now it's up to us as players to start getting the team up the table, starting at Hull."
Keane revealed he was delighted with the reception he received from the Tottenham fans before and during the Arsenal derby.
"Of course, some fans were disappointed [when he left] but one thing I remembered when I came back with Liverpool and came off, the Spurs fans gave me a standing ovation - that is something I will never ever forget," he explained.
"The fans have always been superb to me and it was the same against Arsenal. I'm back now and I will do everything in my power to get this club where I believe it belongs - up in the top 10."
Keane also said he had no regrets about his unhappy spell on Merseyside but admitted he was "baffled" as to why Benitez ignored his talent.
"Maybe with a different manager, it possibly could have worked out," he added. "I never regret anything I have done. I went there and it didn't work out for me. I was doing everything I could possibly do to play football and do well for the team.
"If I'd been a bad egg I could understand but I never had one bad word to say about anyone there. I was never late for training and I came in every day and worked my socks off. Sometimes, the manager does not fancy you - you're probably as baffled as I am."
There is no doubt Keane is now playing for a manager who fancies him as a footballer and as a person. Redknapp handed him the armband because of his enthusiasm and his willingness to speak up in what is a quiet dressing room at the Lane.
"As long as I am given an opportunity to show what I can do and get the 90 minutes [something which rarely happened at Liverpool] then I know for a fact I can do a job," said Keane.
"I've done that in the past and I don't have to prove that to anybody."