Robbie Keane named assistant to Jonathan Woodgate at Middlesbrough

Fri, Jun 14 2019

Keane pictured in advance of the 2-0 Euro 2020 qualifier win over Gibraltar on Monday. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Republic of Ireland coach Robbie Keane has been announced as assistant manager of Middlesbrough following the appointment of Jonathan Woodgate as head coach.

The former Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur teammates will link up once more in the Smoggies dugout following the departure of Tony Pulis earlier this summer.

Middlesbrough, who boast Ireland number one Darren Randolph in their ranks, narrowly missed out on the play-offs this year after losing in the final to Fulham 12 months ago.

Woodgate will be assisted by 38-year-old Keane, who will continue the role he’s filled on Mick McCarthy’s staff since the management team took over in December.

The pair will be joined by the returning Leo Percovich, who was a coach with the club between 2013 and 2017, and the former Wales international goalkeeper Danny Coyne.

“This is a great opportunity for me on my pathway to a manager’s job in the future and I am very excited about it," Keane said in a statement released by the Football Association of Ireland.

“I am also grateful to the FAI and to Mick McCarthy for allowing me to take this role and to continue with Ireland.

"I made it very clear to everyone at Middlesbrough that I would not be coming here if I had to give up my Ireland role and they are happy to agree.

"Ireland means everything to me as it always has done and I look forward now to helping the team in our bid to make the Euro finals and those games in Dublin.”

McCarthy added: “I am thrilled for Robbie as he takes the next step in his path to becoming a top manager.

“He told me about it the minute he was offered the job and I told him that it was only a runner if he continued with Ireland. We are building for the future with this Ireland team and Robbie is a key part of that. 

"He has made a big impression on the players and the staff already as my assistant coach and this new role will only improve him which works for Middlesbrough and, most importantly, for Ireland.”

Tallaght native Keane spent 20 years playing at the top level in England, Italy, Scotland and United States before hanging up his boots in November following a spell in management in India.

He’s the Republic of Ireland’s all-time leading goalscorer and appearance-maker, having scored 68 goals in 148 games between 1998 and 2016.

Keane played schoolboy football before signing his first professional contract with Wolverhampton Wanderers at the age of 16, debuting a year later.

He broke the British record transfer fee for a teenager when he joined Coventry City for £6 million in 1999, where he excelled before signing for Inter Milan the following summer.

Following his return to England, he had spells with Leeds, Tottenham, Liverpool and Celtic before moving to Los Angeles in 2011, where he spent five seasons.

Keane took his first step into coaching as caretaker manager of Indian Premier League side ATK before being surprisingly named as part of McCarthy’s staff when he succeeded Martin O’Neill.