Robbie Keane – A Tottenham Legend?


Robbie Keane had spent six years with Spurs and made almost two hundred League appearances, scoring 82 goals for the club as well as helping them win the 2008 Carling Cup Final when he was transferred to Liverpool for £20.3 million in the summer of 2008.

His stay at Anfield was brief and not a success, so Harry Redknapp re-signed him the following January. He played another 41 League games and scored 11 goals before joining La Galaxy in the summer of 2011. His second spell with Tottenham was not as successful and he spent time on loan at Celtic and West Ham United.

Robbie Keane is 10th on Tottenham’s all-time goalscoring list with 122 goals in all competitions. He is one of only 16 players who have scored over 100 goals for the club.

Keane’s Stats:

League: App. 189 (49)  Goals: 91
FA Cup: App. 16 (5)  Goals: 12
League Cup: App. 16 (7)  Goals: 10
Europe:App. 15 (9)  Goals: 9

Keane has been described as a scorer of great goals rather than a great goal scorer and while there is an element of truth in that he did add greater consistency to his game and the ability to be in the right place to knock in simple, goal-poacher’s type of goals as well.

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 Spurs lost from a winning two goal 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 scored his 100th goal for Spurs in all competitions in a home win over Sunderland in January, 2008. His second goal against Fulham the previous month had been the 100th Premier League goal of his career, making him the thirteenth player to achieve that milestone.

At the time of his 100th goal for Spurs I wrote a piece about him.

‘Deep into injury time as Spurs held on against a determined Sunderland, second half substitute, Robbie Keane, stepped up to score his 100th goal for Tottenham Hotspur and most importantly secured the win and the three points. The fans rose as one to salute the goal and Robbie Keane.

Go back a few weeks, however, to the last game of 2007 – six goals against Reading and the club’s leading scorer for the calendar year of 2007 didn’t get on the score sheet, in fact, he missed a penalty at 4 – 4 but saw Jermain Defoe save his blushes as he headed in the rebound. Keane was then substituted as the team went on to win 6 – 4.

Those two incidents sum 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.’

During his time at Tottenham, Keane developed his game to become a creator as well as goal scorer and had a great understanding with Dimitar Berbatov as shown on numerous occasions, including the cross that led to the Bulgarian scoring the first goal in the win over Reading. He also won the penalty which led to Spurs going ahead.

Keane had also been a reliable and consistent scorer of penalties. His record showed 14 successful strikes from seventeen penalties. He was so calm and showed such composure, able to focus on the task and exclude all distractions from the opposition. He had previously missed only one penalty for Spurs, saved by Ben Alnwick, when he had been playing for Sunderland at White Hart Lane in 2005.

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

For the early part of season 2006-07, 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. Opting for Keane, a decision backed by Juande Ramos when he was appointed, led to the departure of Defoe to Portsmouth.

Martin Jol showed great faith in Keane, making him vice-captain, and he accepted the responsibility as he did when appointed captain for the Ireland team going on to become their leading international goal scorer.

In the calendar year, 2007, Robbie Keane scored 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.

Keane scored 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. On his return he scored 4 against Burnley in September 2009 but he only scored one more League goal for the club a few weeks later. His role in the ‘golf trip’ to Dublin angered Harry Redknapp and Keane’s influence and time at White Hart Lane soon drew to a close.

Keane became the fifteenth player to score one hundred or more goals for Spurs. That elite group is headed by Jimmy Greaves and includes Teddy Sheringham, Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean, Bobby Smith and Glenn Hoddle, all Spurs ‘Legends’. His former strike partner, Jermain Defoe, is now ahead of him on the list but is Robbie Keane a Tottenham Legend?

Is Robbie Keane a Tottenham Legend?

Most of the players ahead of Robbie Keane in Tottenham’s all-time goalscoring record would be regarded as Legends. He showed an affinity with the club but spoiled that with his sudden desire to play for his boyhood club, Liverpool. It’s often said that it’s better not to return to a club and in Keane’s case this would probably have been true, although his goals in 2008 helped to lift Spurs away from the relegation zone.

A good goalscorer who contributed greatly to the club and was an important player during those first six years with Tottenham but not a legend.

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