Giovanni Trapattoni hailed the genius of Robbie Keane after the Ireland captain’s latest record breaking exploits ahead of Tuesday night’s friendly with Spain in New York.
Keane became the most capped Irish player with his 126th appearance in Friday night’s 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands.
The LA Galaxy striker added to the celebrations with a stunning hat-trick to reach 59 goals in the green jersey.
And Trap is banking on Keane to deliver again when Ireland face Sweden and Austria in the September games that will decide their World Cup fate.
Trap told the Irish Sun: “We must congratulate our captain. He is the best Irish player I have known in 30 years.
“He scores the important goals. He’s one of the best strikers in Europe. Obviously this evening it was very important to win the game.
“People were looking for five, six, seven or eight goals. It’s not so easy as that but I think we played well. The players told me that the sun was a problem in the first half. Maybe that is why we did not score more but I am happy with the performance and result.”
Keane celebrated his hat-trick with his old trademark cartwheel – then admitted that wasn’t part of the plan.
The Dubliner, whose son Rob was mascot on the night, added: “I got excited. I shouldn’t really do it. I’ve got a bad shoulder. I was told not to do it but when you score goals everything goes out the window.
“Yeah it was great to have Rob out there with me before the game. At the moment he’s not really too sure but when he gets older I’m sure he’ll appreciate it a lot more.
“It’s a special night obviously because of the whole situation, getting the caps and obviously scoring three goals - for anybody it’s a great occasion.
“The most important thing was getting a good result and getting the three points. We were trying to get as many goals as we could because of the goal difference.
“What more can I say? It couldn’t have worked out better for me with the whole occasion. But it’s a campaign, it’s not really about individuals. It’s about the team and I’m more delighted for all the lads.
“I have to say, the whole two weeks together has been brilliant. I think we’ve probably bonded more this week in terms of the way we played on the pitch and the way we’ve conducted ourselves off the pitch, I think it’s been a credit to the management and everybody.”
Keane was happy with the win on a night that saw Austria shock Sweden with a 2-1 victory in Vienna.
He said: “I think against these teams it’s very important to get an early goal, and that was certainly the case.
“I wish we had have capitalised a bit more on it in the first half, but it wasn’t to be. The game usually opens up but to be fair to them, they kept everyone still behind the ball and they had a good shape to them, certainly in the first half. But the second half was a lot better.”
Secrets of ancient Irish charms and spells