Young footballers get a chance to meet one of soccer’s ambassadors

Young footballers get a chance to meet one of soccer’s ambassadors
Former L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Keane, right, with Nick Surface of G-Form, waits to engage fans during a meet-and-greet Saturday at soccerloco in Carlsbad. Photo by Steve Puterski

CARLSBAD — The line started early as soccer fans waited patiently for one of Major League Soccer’s best, and as of recently, former stars.

Robbie Keane, the Irish striker, held a meet-and-greet at soccerloco Saturday to mingle with fans and promote G-Form, a new flexible shin guard.

While the 36-year-old soccer star moves on from the L.A. Galaxy, he is far from ending his playing days and his role off the pitch.

“It’s always nice to give back to the community,” Keane said.

Keane said meeting fans and making public appearances have always been important to him as an ambassador of the sport.

While growing up in Ireland, he said playing soccer was an endless and timeless pastime. He always had a ball on his foot, noting how once he got home from school it was off to play street football, back for dinner, then back out with his brothers and friends.

When kids approach him now, Keane said he is more than willing to give advice, although it can be tricky depending on the position and tactics used by youth clubs and coaches.

“It depends on what kids want,” he said. “The key to success is being consistent and to always have that hunger and desire. Every time since I’ve been with the Galaxy, since Day 1, I’ve been better than the year before. You always want to be better than the next person.”

Like many European stars Keane migrated across the pond to the MLS, where he quickly became one of the league’s best goal scorers.

After signing with the Galaxy in 2011, he racked up 83 goals and helped lead L.A. to MLS Cup titles in 2011-12 and 2014. In addition, he was named MLS Cup MVP in 2014.

His international career, meanwhile, is just as decorated, as Keane is Ireland’s all-time leading scorer with 67 goals and tallied 143 caps with the national team.

He began his career in Europe in the English Premier League and developed his game with the Tottenham Hotspur from 2002-08 and 2009-11. Keane also spent time with Wolverhampton, Coventry City, Inter Milan (Italy), Leeds, Liverpool, Celtic, West Ham and Aston Villa tallying 126 goals.

He also appeared in the 2002 World Cup and the 2016 Euro with Ireland.

“It wasn’t hard to transition to L.A.,” Keane laughed. “When you go to a new team and speak the language, it helps. It was an easy transition for me. When I came to the Galaxy, I said I wasn’t here for holiday. I was here to do something.”

As for what’s next, he said time will tell, but plans on relaxing and letting his body heal before deciding the next destination.

One thing is for certain, the striker will don a uniform for at least another year or two, he said.

“I’m proud for what I’ve done with the Galaxy and the league,” Keane added.

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