With the US national team taking on the Republic of Ireland later this month in Dublin, head coach Jurgen Klinsmann has moved to hail opposition captain and MLS star Robbie Keane as a role model for all footballers.
The LA Galaxy skipper has scored 53 times in 84 regular-season games since arriving in the USA from Tottenham Hotspur in August 2011, while consistently jetting across the Atlantic to turn out for Ireland, despite the increasing demands on his ageing legs.
Having established himself as the League’s MVP front-runner in 2014 with 19 goals and 14 assists in 29 games, Klinsmann has been astounded at how his fellow Spurs icon continues to stay at the top of his game, and believes his US players and others should be following his lead.
‘Keane is a tremendous athlete and a tremendous role model for all the players out there,’ he told US Soccer, in quotes covered by Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus.
‘With Robbie you have a player that always gives you everything. Robbie Keane, in his culture and his nature, is never about, “Okay, how much money can I make here?”
‘Robbie Keane is about, “I go on the field [and] and I’m training the same way as I do in the real game and I give everything I have.”
‘At the same time, he still plays for the national team. He flies back and forth. He would fly over tonight and play a game there and be tomorrow back with the Galaxy and play the next one. That’s the type of character he is.
‘Having a role model like Robbie Keane in this league is huge. And the more similar guys we could get to MLS to carry that message of total dedication, being a total professional, helping younger players, teaching younger players what it means to become that professional, the faster the league will grow.
‘He’s a special player.’
Having previously won successive MLS Cups in 2011 and 2012, Keane and the Galaxy are now on the hunt for a record fifth title in 2014, entering the post-season as joint-favourites with the Seattle Sounders to take the crown come December.
Bruce Arena’s side were held to a 0-0 draw at Real Salt Lake in the first leg of their Eastern Conference semi-finals series on Saturday, with the return leg set for Sunday at the StubHub Center, as the Irishman attempts to further his case for being the league's greatest-ever import.