Ireland captain Robbie Keanevia The Sun

Robbie Keane risked the wrath of his new LA Galaxy bosses to lead Ireland into Tuesday night’s big European Championship party against Estonia.

Keane politely turned down a request from the Galaxy to make an early return to California after Friday night’s 4-0 win in Tallinn.

Ireland’s record scorer hit two goals as the Republic all but booked their place in next summer’s finals and rendered the return leg in Dublin meaningless.

Galaxy boss Bruce Arena was hopeful that Keane would skip the homecoming in Dublin on Tuesday and return to LA ahead of schedule to prepare for Sunday’s MLS final against the Houston Dynamo.

Irish captain Keane was having none of it however and promptly declined the invitation to put club before country.

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“They requested could I come back to LA, but obviously the manager and myself and everyone have said ‘No’, because it’s still halfway,” said Keane.

“Even though it would be a tragedy if we didn’t qualify now, the job is still not done yet. We have to be professional and do the job properly.

“They requested me to come back with the final on Sunday, but this could be one of the greatest moments in Irish history for me playing for my country, and to miss a special night - hopefully - like this tonight, it wouldn’t feel right.”

Keane is adamant the Galaxy understood his decision as Ireland prepare to celebrate their first qualification for a major final since the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.

He said: “They weren’t annoyed. No, no, because I am with the national team. It would be disrespectful to the players and everyone associated thinking that the job is 100% done.

“We know in football anything can happen. They requested it and they were happy with what the manager and the Association said, so believe me, it’s no problem.”

That last World Cup qualification came via a play-off second leg in Tehran which then captain Roy Keane missed despite playing in the 2-0 home win the previous Saturday.

Current skipper Keane refused to be drawn into any comparison with his predecessor.

“I don’t want to get into what happened in the past, I can only speak for myself and what Ireland means to me, and you all know I turn up for every game,” said the Galaxy star.

“If I have got a slight injury, I still come in and try my best to play the game, that’s just the way I have been brought up, that’s the kind of player I am.

“My country means everything to me. I would never not turn up. I have never done that in the past, and I can proudly say that. Roy was a top, top player and whatever happened to Roy in the past, that’s something you would have to ask him.

“I can only speak on behalf of me and for me, this is probably one of the proudest moments my footballing career, to lead this team to where we are now and to achieve what we have achieved.”

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