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The Players Who Played On Robbie Keane's Home Debut - Where Are They Now?

By Mikey Traynor
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April 22nd, 1998.

The Republic of Ireland lost a friendly to Argentina and every Irish fan who watched the game left with a buzz of optimism, thanks to a wide-eyed 17-year-old who just announced himself as the next big thing.

We didn't know it at the time, although some of the more eternally positive football fans out there would have predicted it based just on what they had seen that day, but the young topless man looking bewildered in his post-match RTÉ interview would go on to become Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer by the time he was 24 en route to setting a seemingly unbeatable record.

The game was standard enough for the time.

A pre-tournament friendly for a tournament we didn't qualify for, the Argies were looking for a tough European test and we were looking to sell tickets to see the likes of Gabriel Batistuta and Ariel Ortega in the flesh. And they justified the money.

In fact, Ariel Ortega scored a sublime goal that is still talked about today.

[Watch Video]


What a player he was. Never did quite fulfil his potential though..

But all the talk was about Robbie on that day. So rarely does a teenager who makes everyone stand up and take notice go on to surpass the high expectations they set for themselves, but as Keano takes to the pitch for the final time in an Ireland shirt, he will be reflecting on an international career that did just that.

In honor of Robbie Keane's farewell, we took a look back at the players who took part in his first senior international in Ireland.


Republic of Ireland:

Shay Given

Then: Establishing himself as Newcastle's best goalkeeper.
Now: Starting for Stoke City in the Premier League while Jack Butland is injured.

You know where Shay Given is now. Back then he was in his second season at Newcastle after becoming one of Kenny Dalglish's first signings.

Gary Kelly

Then: An important part of a promising Leeds United squad in the Premier League.
Now: Retired a 'one-club-man' in 2007, now enjoying retired life away from football.


There's not much information available as to what Gary Kelly is up to these days, presumably he is continuing his excellent work with the Gary Kelly Cancer Support Centre in Drogheda.

Jeff Kenna

Then: A regular for Blackburn in the Premier League.
Now: Last managed St.Pats in 2009, now away from football.

After stints in charge of Galway United and St. Patrick's Athletic, Kenna's next job in football was on the coaching staff at the IMG Academy of Soccer in Bradenton, Florida, but returned to the UK shortly after.


Gary Breen

Then: Flourishing at Coventry City in the Premier League.
Now: Pundit with Setanta Sports, all XI positions in Team of Gary Breens.

Coventry represented the most stable period of Breen's career before he starred at the 2002 World Cup as a free agent. Still loved by the Irish fans, his song gets sung everywhere there are green jerseys to be seen.

Ian Harte

Then: Playing with his uncle Gary Kelly at Leeds in the Premier League.
Now: Currently a football agent, soon to be making bank like Mino Raiola.


Harte retired after helping Bournemouth gain Premier League promotion in 2015, and soon decided to make a go of it as an agent in one of the more interesting career moves after football for an Irish player.

He recently congratulated one of his clients for getting a new deal with Leeds:

Kevin Kilbane

Then: Making a name for himself at West Brom in the Championship having recently joined from Preston North End.
Now: Recently signed as a regular member of Newstalk's 'Off The Ball' team as well as being a pundit for TV3.

Killer is absolutely everywhere these days due to the combination of him knowing a lot about football, bring a really nice bloke, and not being shy on camera. Looks set to be a prominant pundit going forward having retired with 110 caps for his country.

Lee Carsley

Then: Playing Premier League football with the likes of Malcolm Christie at Derby County.
Now: Working with the English FA, coaching young players.

Carso's most recent job appointment caused a lot of surprise back in Ireland as it seemed very much like his job at the English FA was spotting players who could play for different countries, like Ireland, and alert the FA to the possibility of them declaring for another nation.

After retirement in 2011 he became a coach at Coventry and eventually managed Bradford in 2015.

Mark Kinsella

Then: On his way to becoming a club legend at Charlton Athletic.
Now: Most recently was assistant manager at Drogheda United.

Kin Sella as he was known in England retired in 2008 and hopped straight onto the coaching/management ladder. After spells at Walsall, the Charlton reserves, and Coventry he took full charge of Drogheda United in 2015 and is currently assitant manager/first team coach.

Steve Staunton

Then: Coming to the end of his time at Aston Villa.
Now: Occasionally appears on Sky Sports to talk football.

After an unfortunate time as Republic of Ireland manager, Stan also had an unfortunate time at Darlington and has not managed since. Last we saw of him was on Sky Sports' Fantasy Football Club talking about the glory days.

Robbie Keane

Then: Really enjoying playing for Ireland.
Now: Really enjouing playing for Ireland.

Oman will be the last time he pulls on an Ireland jersey, a thought that is simply weird for those of us who can't remember what an Ireland squad without Robbie Keane looks like.

Ireland's all-time record goalscorer is living in Hollywood and running the show for MLS side LA Galaxy.

Niall Quinn

Then: Helping to get Sunderland back into the Premier League.
Now: Commentary and talking about Manchester City on Sky Sports.


A lot happened for Quinny after his retirement as he managed and was chairman of Sunderland, started his own satellite broadband company, and starred in commercials for Persil. Now he's biased about Man City on Sky and loving life by all accounts.

Last seen slagging Gary Neville in the Sky Sports car park.


Alan Kelly

Then: Number one at Sheffield United in the Premier League.
Now: Goalkeeping coach at Preston North End.

After a spell as Ireland's GK coach under Giovanni Trapattoni, Kelly is now putting the keepers through their paces at PNE.

Denis Irwin

Then: Starring regularly for Manchester United.
Now: MUTV pundit.

Sadly we don't get to see too much of Denis as he tends to reserve his opinions for MUTV which is still, somehow, behind a subscription service.

We hope he's still a master of chess, but cannot confirm.

Phil Babb

Then: A member of the 'Spice Boys' at Liverpool.
Now: Playing in those Liverpool legends matches in weird places.

Was the manager of Hayes & Reading United as recently as 2015, but last seen looking extremely photogenic for the Liverpool legends in Australia.

Rory Delap

Then: Playing for Derby with Lee Carsley (and Malcolm Christie).
Now: Covering Stoke City games for BBC Radio Stoke.

Who knew then that the man would revolutionise throw-ins and have every booming long bomb referred to as a 'Rory Delap'.


German Burgos

Then: Starting goalkeeper at Mallorca.
Now: Assitant manager at Atletico Madrid.

Currently a part of the coaching staff at Atleti, along with another member of this team...

Roberto Ayala

Then: About to join AC Milan from Napoli.
Now: Playing legends matches in cool places.

Maldives is the latest spot, what a fine player Ayala was.

Roberto Sensini

Then: Midfield general for a glorious Parma team.
Now: Unemployed manager in Argentina.

Most recently in charge of Atlético de Rafaela in 2015 back in Argentina.

Nelson Vivas

Then: About to sign for Arsenal from Lugano.
Now: Unemployed manager since 2013.

Apparently, former Arsenal flop Vivas lost his last job as manager of Quilmes for attacking a fan in the stands in 2013.

Matias Almeyda

Then: Playing for Lazio in Serie A.
Now: Currently manager of Guadalajara in Mexico.

Known for his high-pressing managerial style similar to Jurgen Klopp over in Mexico.

Sergio Berti

Then: Back at River Plate after playing for a number of clubs in Europe.
Now: Like Ian Harte, now a football agent.

Aleksander Kolarov is one of his clients, there's the most random fact you'll learn today.

Diego Simeone

Then: Very scary midfielder at Inter Milan.
Now: Very scary manager at Atletico Madrid.

You know damn well what Diego Simeone is up to, as he is one of the very best managers in the world.

Juan Sebastian Veron

Then: About to sign for Parma from Sampdoria for what was then considered mega-bucks.
Now: President of Estudiantes and still playing amatuer football.

At 41 years of age, Veron still lines out for his local amateur team Estrella de Berisso. What a man.

Gabriel Batistuta

Then: Banging in goals left, right, and centre for Fiorentina.
Now: Pundit, and no longer Argentina's all-time leading goalscorer.

Messi recently surpassed the great Batistuta as his country's leading scorer, a record that would have lasted a lot longer if not for arguably the best player ever.

Claudio Lopez

Then: Being a little genius for Valencia in La Liga.
Now: Director of football at Colorado Rapids.

Good mates with Kevin Doyle by all accounts*, (*we made that up, but surely...) the little man was a pleasure to watch until he retired at the Rapids in 2010.

We can now confirm that Kev and Claudio are, in fact, good mates as he informed us on twitter:

Ariel Ortega

Then: Scoring a magnificent goal against Ireland while playing for Valencia.
Now: Last seen in the backroom staff at River Plate.

He never quite could deliver on his incredible talent like so many who were dubbed the "next Maradona" in their time. Still, he gave the Lansdowne Road crowd a glimpse of his ability on that day.

LiveScore is holding a special fan event in Dublin to debate the UEFA Champions League with a panel of Evan Ferguson, Denis Irwin & Emma Byrne, hosted by Conor McNamara

Reserve your spot for this unmissable night in The Camden on the 30th May by clicking here.

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