Keane put an end to weeks of speculation Tuesday when the announced through that he was retiring from the international game.
The decision marks an end to one of the most inspiring and at the same controversial careers in the Republic’s soccer history.
Keane said in a statement issued through his lawyer that it was always his desire to play again for Ireland. But he pointed to recent injuries and medical advice as the basis for his decision not to make a comeback.
The 31-year-old Manchester United captain underwent a hip operation in September.
Keane’s announcement came on the eve of the Republic’s friendly game against Scotland under new manager Brian Kerr.
“During a meeting with Brian Kerr last week he outlined to me his future plans for the Irish team. It was my first meeting with Brian and I formulated the opinion that the Irish team was in very capable hands,” Keane said in his statement.
“It has always been my desire to play again for Ireland and following my meeting with Brian, I discussed in depth with my manager, Alex Ferguson, my wife and my immediate family the possibility of my return to international football. I also consulted with my medical team, who operated upon my hip last September. The unequivocal advice given to me by my doctors was that I should not return to international football.”
“In the light of such advice, I regret that I am compelled to confirm my retirement from international football.”
Keane’s decision is likely to please Manchester United. Manager Alex Ferguson, had advised the Cork-born star to end his Ireland career because of the extra risk of injuries posed by international games.
On the other hand it will be a disappointment to Kerr, who pitched for a Keane return at a meeting in Manchester last week.
Keane’s last game for Ireland was the pre-World Cup friendly against Nigeria at Lansdowne Road in May.
While many who were there that night spoke of how it seemed likely that they were watching his last home game in a green shirt, nobody believed his end would be played out in the dramatic fashion of the Saipan incident, in which Keane and then manager Mick McCarthy rowed to the point that Keane was absent from the subsequent World Cup campaign in Korea and Japan.
Keane will now also be absent from Ireland’s renewed effort to secure a place in the European finals in Portugal next year.
Speculation of a Keane return first surfaced in an article in The Star on Monday, the newspaper that Keane’s ghostwriter, Eamon Dunphy, writes for. In it, it was claimed that the Manchester United ace was willing to ignore the advice of Ferguson and rejoin the Irish squad for the next few games.
Ferguson said last week that considering Keane’s age and history of injuries, it would be best for him now to dedicate the remainder of his career to Manchester United.