Wolves The Perfect Launch Pad
‘I Felt At Home There’ – Robbie
“I had a great time there, it’s a brilliant club”…….the words of Robbie Keane on live television this week.
We always hoped that the bond between Molineux and what we recognised two and a half decades ago as the Irish boy wonder was one that would last for life.
Although he never did make it back to Wolves for the second spell he privately hoped would come about late in his career, the love is clearly still strong.
Keane used the latter stages of his studio appearance alongside Jamie Carragher on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football programme to talk first of the career choice he faced in his mid-teens.
He had trials with West Ham, Nottingham Forest, Liverpool and Leeds, as well as Wolves, and had the chance to move to the East Midlands or Merseyside.
“It was strange about Wolves,” he added. “I didn’t know much about them but the stadium was incredible for the Championship. I felt very comfortable there straightaway.
“I felt at home. The people were great. It was a homely club. Also, I wanted to play in the first team as quickly as possible. I knew that I probably wouldn’t have that chance straightaway at Liverpool or Forest.”
Time for a quick reminder of how a boy born in the months that followed Wolves’ second League Cup final triumph shot straight from their youth side to the first team without anything as routine as experience in the reserves…..
Keane produced the briefest of cameos in a pre-season win at Dundee United in July, 1997, scored one goal and made another at Stirling Albion two nights later and exploded into the limelight with a match-winning brace at Norwich on the first day of the season. All that only a few weeks on from his 17th birthday.
“It wasn’t a bad goal, I didn’t look back,” he told viewers of the Crystal Palace-Leeds game as footage of his stunning first strike at Carrow Road was shown. And he added of the overall Molineux experience after being given his chance by Mark McGhee: “I enjoyed it…..a cheeky kid up against bigger lads. It made me grow up.”
Recaps over the varied, feted, sensational moves and exploits that followed are hardly necessary but, in closing, it is impossible to overlook a colossal contribution for the Republic of Ireland.
Keane, now 41 and disregarded by his country at the ages of 14 and 15 because he was too small, has more senior caps (146) and more senior goals (68) than anyone else in the country’s history.
Not a bad career to have launched, was it?