Robbie Keane: Playing in the World Cup is the pinnacle
In the first of his exclusive series of blogs, brand ambassador Robbie Keane looks ahead to Qatar 2022 while reflecting on his own World Cup experiences.
I’m really excited for the World Cup. There’s always a great atmosphere and it always brings everyone together, so I can’t wait.
I’ll be watching in Qatar myself for the first 10 days before coming back home and getting back out there for the semi-finals and final.
I think for any player, playing for your country is one of the proudest moments of your career and the World Cup is the pinnacle. It was certainly number one for me.
The World Cup is special
It’s very hard to describe exactly what makes a World Cup special, but some of my memories will stay with me forever.
Obviously my best one has to be the last-minute equaliser I scored against Germany in Japan in 2002. I just remember the atmosphere in Kashima, the fans behind the goal and the lift that it gave everybody in the nation.
Aside from my World Cups, the one that got me in the most was Italia ’90. It was so special and gave me the motivation and energy to play in one in my career.
It was fantastic just to see the quality of players on show. The standard of the Italian team was amazing at the time as well with Salvatore Schillaci and Roberto Baggio, who is one of my favourite ever players.
An experience like no other
The World Cup is very hectic as you can imagine. The attention, build-up and nerves are noticeable.
We had a lot of media attention in the 2002 World Cup, as did everyone, but we were so far away. It was at a time where there was no social media, we didn’t have newspapers either, so we didn’t really see anything from home.
In this day and age, it would be different but we were protected from a lot of the coverage.
Home comforts are huge
When you’re at a World Cup, you’re stuck in a hotel for weeks. When you play at club level, you train, go home and get to see your family. Being away from them for a long period of time can be challenging for some players.
But it was always great to get a glimpse of what was going on back home.
In 2002, we knew it was getting crazy because we were getting the videos from all the journalists. They were sending them to our analyst and he was showing us videos of all our families.
My mum and dad were in one of them, watching one of the games when I scored. It showed everyone celebrating. That was great when I was so far away because they never got a chance to come, Japan and South Korea was a little too far for them.
I think Brazil have got a really good chance of winning it. It’s unlikely with the way the draw plays out, but I’d love to see a Brazil v Argentina final. If not, then at least a meeting between them at some point in the tournament.
I’ll go for Neymar or Lionel Messi because I think they can score a good few goals in the group stages.
My dark horses are Denmark. They’re a team that does well in tournaments and they have got some absolutely top players.
It’s remarkable what Christian Eriksen has done to come back in the last 11 months, incredible. He could be a big player for them.
Player to earn a big move
We’ve seen over the last few years how the World Cup can provide a platform for players who have got massive moves.
One that stands out for me is El Hadji Diouf, who went to Liverpool after an unbelievable tournament for Senegal at the 2002 World Cup.
We will definitely see some players we haven’t heard of come through and become players we’re talking about for a long time. I’m not sure who they will be, but I can’t wait to find out.
Visit Betway's World Cup betting page.