Keane comfortable with Ireland underdog role at Euro 2012

Robbie Keane, the leading goal scorer in Republic of Ireland history, has admitted he is happy for his country to be considered underdogs at Euro 2012, the Daily Mail has reported, feeling it will benefit the side against the so-called bigger nations in the group.

Ireland are fourth seeds in a group containing Croatia and the last two World Cup winners, Italy, victors in 2006, and Spain, who won in 2010 and are the holders of the European Championship trophy too. But the LA Galaxy striker believes he and his teammates are well-placed to spring a surprise against their more vaunted opposition.

Keane said: “It’s good for us that people think that because we know as a group of players the confidence we have at this moment in time. I mentioned before about the [Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia] and the relaxed feeling we had before that game, it’s very similar now.

The 31-year-old, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Aston Villa, made his senior international bow in March 1998 as a 17-year-old, four months before his 18th birthday. Since then Keane, who will captain Ireland at Euro 2012, has scored 53 international goals, the first and so far only Ireland player to break the 50-goal barrier.

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