Keane hopes history repeats itself

Keane hopes history repeats itself

Published Jun. 10, 2012 11:43 a.m. ET

Robbie Keane is hoping history repeats itself as he goes head-to-head with Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa once again.

Back in 1998, the two men found themselves in direct competition at the European Under-18s Championships when the Republic of Ireland got the better of the Croatians with a 5-2 victory in Cyprus on their way to lifting the title.

Keane, who often insists he does not remember games in his past, certainly has fond memories of that tournament, and would welcome a repeat in Poznan on Sunday night.

He said with a smile: "Hopefully that's the case.


"At the Under-18s, people didn't think we had a chance playing against one of the best nations and favourites England.

"They beat us 1-0, but we managed to crack on and beat Germany in the final on penalties, so I certainly hope that is the case this time."

Keane is not the only man to remember that game in Cyprus with 33-year-old Pletikosa, who would later spend a year in the same Tottenham squad as Keane, equally set on revenge.

He said: "I remember well this match. We lost against them in the first match of the Under-18s and I think Robbie Keane scored two or three goals.

"When I went to Tottenham, I was talking about that tournament. We will do everything we can to make sure that won't be repeated this time.

"Robbie is a really great player, he has great statistics in the Premier League and I can say in the year we spent together at Tottenham, I learnt a lot about him, so I know him very well.

"His best skill is that he is just unpredictable and he can surprise you at any moment with his reactions.

"But I am sure I and my team-mates will do everything we can to stop him."

Now 31, Keane has since played at the 2002 World Cup finals and made himself a household name both at home and abroad.

However, when he leads out his country at the Municipal Stadium in Poznan for their opening Group C fixture, he admits it will be among the most important games he has played.

Keane said: "It is certainly up there. I'm very fortunate, as I have said before, to have played in a World Cup.

"The European Championships is different. Everybody has great memories over the years of previous Irish teams.

"It is certainly going to be a special occasion to play for your country, but to lead your country in a major championships is something that I don't think any player will ever forget.

"It is certainly something that I am looking forward to."

As well as Pletikosa, Keane had spells at White Hart Lane with Vedran Corluka, Niko Kranjcar and Luka Modric, and he knows how much of a threat the latter in particular will be to Ireland's hopes.

He said: "I've been speaking to him over the last couple of days and having a bit of banter with him.

"I look forward to playing against him and hopefully after the game, shaking his hand with three points in the bag.

"We know they have grown as individual players and collectively as a team since [Slaven] Bilic took over as manager. They have become a stronger and even better team."