Irish soccer captain Robbie Keane can’t wait to return to the big stage with Ireland – and this time he is ready to make the most of it.

The LA Galaxy striker reported for European Championship duty on Monday night, 10 years after his World Cup heroics in Japan and South Korea.

Now approaching the twilight years of his career, Ireland’s record goal scorer is ready to make the most of his second major finals.

He said, “When you are 21 years of age, you think you have got 20 years left in you. But now you are coming towards the end and you are not too sure how many tournaments you have left in you.”

Keane also admitted it hurt to watch the last World Cup in South Africa after getting so close to qualification in Paris.

“It was a pain in the a***, to be honest with you,” said the Dubliner.  

“This is what you play football for, this is why we are here. Playing the friendly games is great and playing for your country is the best experience you can have.

“But this is why you play football, to play in these big competitions. I have been fortunate to play in a World Cup, which was one of the best experiences of my life, but I haven’t played in a European Championship yet.

“Every time you watch one on the TV, you are just desperate to be there.”

Keane also admits he is enjoying life as one of the elders of the current Ireland squad.

As for this summer’s finals, Keane said, “If you look at the history of Irish teams in tournaments, they have always been a hard team to beat.

“They always upset a few people, and I am sure we can go over there and certainly make an impact.”

Robbie Keane in action with the LA GalaxyStephen Dunn/Getty Images