| 8.2°C Dublin

'Robbie will leave long-term legacy in American game' - Klinsmann

LET'S BE honest.

The American public are not itching to turn on their TVs and watch some soccerball tonight to see just how two boys from Derby County and Ipswich Town manage on their full international debuts.

Players like Cyrus Christie and David McGoldrick are barely household names in their own households so the boys sitting at the sports bars of Wilmington and Boise are not too bothered about how Ireland fare against the USA. But Robbie Keane? Now that's a different ball game, as Jurgen Klinsmann came to Dublin to prepare his US team for the friendly with Ireland and spoke glowingly of the Ireland captain.


Keane's not the only thing with an Irish accent to make an impression on the German native who manages the US.

Klinsmann is adamant that Shane O'Neill, the talented young Cork-born but US-based footballer, is committed to the American path and is part of their underage set-up despite possible interest from Ireland.

Klinsmann was also reminded that he scored his first goal in a Tottenham shirt on Irish soil, in a friendly for Spurs against Shelbourne back in 1994.

"Did I?" he asks when questioned about the feat of scoring his debut Spurs goal, though he did add that he was amazed to see so many Spurs fans in Ireland, claiming that 11,000 of the 12,000 fans that day were Tottenham supporters.

But Keane is a big deal to Klinsmann and the American game.

"I would love to see Robbie on the field as he's so enjoyable," said the US boss, regretting that Keane won't feature in tonight's game as he has returned to the US to feature for LA Galaxy in the MLS play-offs tonight.

"I often say that in the US, Robbie Keane is a role model for all the American players growing up in this beautiful game.

"That's what he has done since he came overseas, he shows to the young players what it takes to become a professional, how much dedication and commitment you need.

"Robbie is the same Robbie in training as he is in the game and he is huge for the MLS.

"These are the types of players that you need to have in your environment to make the league grow and to make the younger players understand what the real big players are doing.

"And at the same time he continues to play for Ireland at the highest level, scoring goals, going back and forth.

"I use him a lot as an example of how to do it, he will leave a huge mark when he leaves the game with what he has done for the MLS over the years," added Klinsmann, aware that the way of life in American soccer - all stats and scholarships and soccer moms - is different to the European way.


"What does it takes to become a top professional? Here you are grown into that system by the age of 18," he says.

"That's why we need a Robbie Keane and these types of personalities to help us make them understand what it really takes, the America system is really different but we do fairly well and we showed that to a lot of people at the World Cup.

"And hopefully in Russia in 2018 we can surprise a few more people," he added, Klinsmann making it clear that while friendlies like tonight's tussle are important, they are already planning for World Cup 2018 in Russia.