Miroslav Klose (67), Gerd Muller (68), Sandor Kocsis (75) and Ferenc Puskas (84) are the only people who have scored more goals at international level than Robbie Keane.
The one-time Wolves, Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Spurs, Liverpool, Spurs, Celtic, West Ham and Aston Villa striker’s hat-trick for Ireland against the Faroe Islands on Friday at the Aviva in Dublin puts him among the greats. He has 59 goals in 126 appearances for his country (an almighty ratio of 2.135:1).
The LA Galaxy striker, on a $4m salary in the United States, has pulled ahead of Gabriel Batistuta, Thierry Henry, David Villa, Samuel Eto’o and Romario, among others.
Quite a few Paddy Power customers were on a Keane hat-trick at odds of 11/2 including one Bradford-based customer who is certainly enjoying his beverages this weekend after scooping £845. Ballsy.
Crucially, Keane has scored in four qualification play-off ties for Ireland – against Turkey, Iran, France and Estonia. That kind of calibre will be useful.
He doesn’t have the looks of Beckham and could learn some celebration skills from his boss, Marco Tardelli, but right now Robbie Keane remains Ireland’s best shot at qualification for World Cup 2014.
The odds? 3/1 to qualify and an ominous 1/5 against.
Ireland play Sweden in Dublin on Friday, September 6 and are away to Austria four days later. Winner takes it all.
Meanwhile, here’s a reminder of when Tardelli wasn’t just an overpaid, befuddling number two (the greatest goal celebration of all time)